It’s no secret that talented chefs have become the new celebrities, and it makes perfect sense. With their eye for artful presentation, knowledge of exotic cuisines and willingness to search the globe for innovative ingredients, these gastronomic gurus have the ability to transform a simple meal into an overload of the senses. Get to know Vancouver’s own roster of famous chefs, who have helped turn the city into an exciting culinary destination.
Surely, you’ve heard of a California roll — you know, the ubiquitous sushi roll with cooked crabmeat, cucumber and avocado? Hidekazu Tojo, Canada’s first sushi chef, is credited for creating this East-meets-West staple in Vancouver during the early ’70s as a way to appeal to non-Japanese diners, and its popularity has made it a standard item on sushi menus throughout North America. Belly up to the sushi bar at Tojo’s eponymous restaurant on West Broadway to try his original creation and other special items from the master roller.
When it comes to Belgian cuisine in Vancouver, look no further than the creations of Nico Schuermans. The success of his award-winning Belgian-fusion restaurant, Chambar, is the culmination of formal training at CREPAC School of Culinary Arts in Belgium, as well as decades of work in multiple Michelin-starred restaurants. Make a reservation to get a taste of his inventive food, or learn a few culinary secrets of your own at The Dirty Apron Cooking School, a joint venture between Karri and Nico Schuermans and former Chambar sous-chef David Robertson.
You may recognize him as the first winner of Top Chef Canada, but even without the celebrity title, Dale MacKay’s resume should garner some serious respect in the kitchen. After working under renowned Chef Gordon Ramsay at his establishments in New York, London and Tokyo, MacKay became executive chef of the now-closed Lumière, a Five Diamond, Four Star restaurant by Daniel Bouloud. In early 2011, MacKay opened his own restaurant in Vancouver’s West End neighborhood, featuring inventive sharing plates with locally sourced ingredients and French influences.
Bringing the rustic Italian cuisine of his childhood to Vancouver, Umberto Menghi transports diners to the hills of Tuscany with his flavourful feasts. Since his humble beginnings in the Italian countryside, Menghi has opened numerous restaurants in British Columbia, including Il Giardino in downtown Vancouver. He also has written five best-selling cookbooks and hosted a cooking show called The Elegant Appetite.
Native Vancouverite David Hawksworth spent a decade perfecting his culinary craft in Michelin-starred restaurants throughout Europe, but his gastronomic artistry really began garnering attention once he took the helm at Vancouver’s famous West Restaurant. Since then, Hawksworth earned the position as the youngest chef inductee to the BC Restaurant Hall of Fame and served as a guest chef at New York City’s James Beard House and Masters of Food & Wine in Carmel. His latest endeavor, Hawksworth Restaurant, exhibits his talent for unique flavor combinations and artful presentation, while showcasing Canada’s diverse local ingredients and multicultural heritage.View 5 Vancouver Celebrity Chefs in a larger map