The famed chef loves his hometown.
Saskatoon-born Dale MacKay has the resumé of a chef twice his age. By his early 20s he was working under Gordon Ramsay at the celebrity chef’s flagship restaurant in Claridge’s. At 27 he was taking Rob Feenie’s position as the head chef at Vancouver’s Lumière, and was soon working directly under another famed celebrity chef, Daniel Boulud. By 31 he was the inaugural winner of Top Chef Canada and used the prize money to open two Vancouver restaurants of his own, Ensemble and the more casual Ensemble Tap. But deciding to shutter those rooms caused McKay to reassess what was important to him; when the answer was “family,” he packed up his knives and headed back home to booming Saskatoon. This month sees his journey come full circle with the opening of Ayden, the new spot named after his young son. 1. Park Cafe on 20th Street is Ayden’s and my favourite place to grab breakfast. It’s got a good feel in a cool area of town, and seems to have a great following. 2. Come wintertime, my friends and I love to ice fish—we huddle up in a shack with a wood-burning fire on Lake Diefenbaker, keeping warm with coffee and Baileys. Was created in 1967 with the completion of the Gardiner and Qui Appelle River Dams. It’s 225 km long. 3. I love to shop at the Saskatoon farmers’ market. You can’t get any closer to the grower unless you were on the farm! Housed in the city’s former electrical garage. 4. Going to the Forestry Farm in the winter months makes me feel like a kid again: they have horse-drawn sleigh rides to take you around. From 1913 to 1965, it shipped 147 million trees to Western Farmers 5. Boomtown at the Western Development Museum has been one of my favourite places ever since I was about five years old. It’s an indoor town set in the 1910s. wl