Western Living Magazine – Neil McLennan, March 25, 2022
Well, it was another odd year with more ups and downs than anyone was looking for. But as usual the industry—chefs, owners, educators, activists, farmers and business people—figured out a way to make things work in imperfect circumstances.
Our top 10 FOTY winners will be announced on May 9 on westernliving.ca (keep an eye on our Facebook and Instagram for updates). They’ll also be featured with portraits and essays in Western Living’s May/June 2022 issue.
So please join us in raising a glass in honour of our 2022 Foodies of the Year Finalists: these are 40 of the tastemakers, innovators and damn-good cooks who wowed our editorial team.
Congratulations to each and every one of you.
1. Tushar Tondvalkar (The Indian Pantry, Vancouver)
This founder is decolonizing Indian food with his Indian Pantry line as well as through his pop-ups and ghost kitchens, Urban Tadka and Frankie Street Wraps.
2. Mike Bernardo and Carole Morton (Naramata General Store, Naramata)
The former head somm at the Vij’s group joins with Morton to bring us the perfect wine country store—proper cheese, charcuterie, tough-to-find bottles.
3. Ryan and Jen Hawk (Wayne and Freda, Penticton)
Is the West’s most perfect coffee shop—friendly but cool, elevated yet approachable—located in humble Penticton?
4. Kenyon Family (District Wine Village, Osoyoos)
The brains behind the Okanagan’s one-stop destination have created the ability to visit 10 tasting rooms at once—from Nk’Mip to One Faith. Perfect for wine touring in a time crunch.
5. Sarah Goodman (Chiwis, Squamish)
Goodman, a trained nutritionist, launched her healthy chips made from fruit mid-pandemic—and they’re now available across Canada and have legions of devotees.
6. Aki Kaltenbach (Save da Sea, Vancouver)
Kaltenbach’s first product, a plant-based “smoked salmon” made from carrots, uses simple ingredients—including locally sourced bull kelp and Omega-3s from flax oil—to create a smoky, savoury, delicious alternative. Now available in over 150 outlets across the country.
7. Ayissi Nyemba (Emkao Foods, Mission)
The launch of Canada’s only single-source, traceable, sustainable chocolate products made from organic cacao beans has transformed what it means to produce chocolate at every stage of the supply chain. Nyemba uses a direct-trade model and has committed to leading the most sustainable and ethical chocolate maker in Canada.
8. James and Cammy Lockwood (Lockwood Farms, Cowichan Valley)
In the past decade, this pair has gone from newbie farmers to supplying much of Vancouver Island’s restaurants with the freshest, most lovingly grown produce around.
9. Rod Olson (YYC Growers, Calgary)
Through this farmer-owned cooperative, Olson is highlighting the importance of supporting local farmers and is bringing education on topics from improving your diet to improving the soil.
10. Greg Dilabio and Antoine Dumont (Oca Pastificio, Vancouver)
The line between FOH (Dumont) and BOH (Dilabio) is about 12 feet at this jewel-box ode to fresh pasta that snagged Best New at the Vancouver Magazine Restaurant Awards last year.
11. Miki Ellis and Stephen Whiteside (Dachi, Elephant, Vancouver)
There may not be any two people more loved within their industry than this pair. Dachi is the de facto clubhouse for Vancouver restaurant folk while the new Elephant draws the high-end tasting meal crowd.
12. Jennifer Keith and Luke Butterworth (JustCook Kitchens, Edmonton)
This pair of UofA MBAs dreamed of a space where a multitude of the city’s young chefs could operate in a slick food-hall setting.
13. Dustin Dockendorf (Autostrada, Vancouver)
Previous Foodie of the Year award winner Lucais Syme rules the back of house at the juggernaut that is Autostrada, but it’s Dockendorf who keeps the trains running and the smiles big at all three spaces (plus Capo and the Spritz at the Opus Hotel).
14. Jesse Dame (Wind Cries Mary, Victoria)
The casual Bastion Square spot has captured the attention of the local foodie crowd by keeping things simple—“elevated cabin fare”—with housemade sausage, local produce and late hours that see other industry folks stopping by after their shifts.
15. Rudy Tomazic (Friends of Dorothy, Victoria/Kelowna)
Victoria’s hopping LGBTQ2+ spot follows on the heels of the original location in the more right-leaning Kelowna. The hyper-inclusive space has become famous for their drag brunches and dramatic interiors.
16. Garrett Bruce Martin (Concorde Entertainment, Calgary)
The opening of the uber-popular Major Tom marks the 18th room in this conglomerate that seems anything but a conglomerate, thanks to Martin, the group’s Culinary Director, making sure each addition has a distinctive personality.
17. Tommy Pang (Chef’s Choice, Vancouver)
The nondescript name on a nondescript stretch of Broadway belies that this Cantonese spot is the most vibrant and exciting Chinese restaurant to open in Vancouver in years thanks to Pang’s deft handling of the classics.
18. Alessa Valdez (The Restaurant at Phantom Creek, Oliver)
Expectations for the jaw-dropping spectacle that is Phantom Creek are perennially high, but chef Valdez has been wowing them with the most refined, inventive (and, yes, expensive) food in the South Okanagan.
19. Jian Cheng (Nancy Go Yaya, Vancouver)
Cheng’s modern Singaporean cuisine (a heretofore underrepresented genre in the West’s repertoire) has been line-up inducing since day one, launching a new generation of eaters who crave roti john and other regional calling cards.
20. Paul Moran (1909 Kitchen, Tofino)
The Top Chef Canada winner (S7) has been killing it at Moran’s marinaside 1909 Kitchen for the past few years. Last year, he launched Wild Origins, a line of dried wild foods that captures the essence of the wild West Coast.
21. Nutcha Phanthoupheng (Baan Lao, Richmond)
Opening a restaurant during COVID was bold; opening a $190 tasting menu of royal Thai cuisine in sleepy Steveston, B.C., seems even more so. But Chef Phanthoupheng has made this daring spot a destination for Lower Mainland food lovers.
22. Roni Zaide (Roni’s Kitchen, Calgary)
The Calgary culinary educator released her first cookbook on the eve of the pandemic and it, along with her online classes, has brought her passion for vegetarian cooking to a new audience of locked-down fans.
23. Scott Iserhoff (Pei Pei Chei Ow Catering, Edmonton)
The Mushkego Cree chef brings contemporary Indigenous catering to Edmonton and delivers food stories along with a deep dive into local ingredients. In his time off, Iserhoff sells jams and bannock mixes with the Indigenous Artisan Market Collective.
24. Anastasia Kiku and Jason Hawkins (Reusables, Vancouver)
When the pandemic began, Kiku and Hawkins saw the garbage start to pile up—and stepped in by developing a more sustainable solution than wasteful single-use takeout containers.
25. Aart Schuurman Hess (Goodly, Vancouver)
The CEO and former bank director has been tackling food waste through the rapidly growing Goodly, which transforms surplus produce donated by suppliers and farmers into a range of soups that taste great and save the planet at the same time.
26. Jeff Guignard (ABLE BC, Vancouver)
Guignard used his experience as a parliamentary chief of staff to wrest the ability to buy liquor at wholesale prices from the B.C. liquor control board—and in doing so had a significant and ongoing impact on the financial health of every restaurant in the province.
27. Dana Lee Harris (BC Hospitality Foundation, Vancouver)
The wine industry insider spent five years leading the BCHF to become a groundbreaker in supporting the underrepresented hospitality industry, and was a shining example for many once the pandemic hit.
28. Craig McIntosh and Carissa Campeotto (Trendi, Vancouver)
The Vancouver-based startup uses AI-driven robotics to help the farm and food industry rescue and upcycle food waste into nutrient-dense products that can be widely distributed to both Canadians facing food insecurity and the wider consumer market.
29. Don Guthro and Quang Dang (D.I.C.E.D. Culinary, Vancouver)
Chef/activist Guthro has been helping underprivileged candidates enter culinary school since 2011 and adding Dang (West) to his casual but beloved D.I.C.E.D. Café near Vancouver’s Jericho Beach has brought a whole new lens of attention to his great social endeavour.
30. Maude Renaud-Brisson (Apero Mode, Vancouver)
In the suddenly crowded world that is wine subscription boxes, it’s this transplanted Quebecker’s knack for finding wines that are cool (and cool-climate) but also broadly accessible that has set her apart from the competition.
31. Emily Walker (Naramata Inn, Okanagan)
Walker left several high-profile jobs in Vancouver (Four Seasons) to raise her family back in the interior and has now landed perhaps her highest-profile gig yet—curating the superlative list at Naramata Inn, where she is sussing out the most interesting wines in the Valley.
32. Faaiza Ramji and Lindsey Good (Field Notes, Edmonton)
When an entrepreneur curious about what the Prairies hold (Ramji) partners with the owner of a 100-year-old farm in southern Alberta who is passionate about turning our crops into more products the world can enjoy (Good), the result is one of the most unique success stories of the pandemic—a pea-based amaro that’s been flying off the shelves.
33. Gurpreet Ranu (Anohka Distillery, Stony Plain)
South Asians have traditionally been underrepresented in Canada’s craft distilling industry, but that didn’t stop Ranu, who not only launched his strikingly modern distillery just west of Edmonton but also managed to snag Best Canadian Dry Gin at the recent World Gin Awards.
34. John and Cathy Windsor (Devine Distillery, Saanich)
Devine has been at the centre of craft distilling for a decade, but although they said goodbye to industry legend Ken Winchester they have still managed to snag top spot in the Canadian Craft Distilling Awards with their genre-bending Ancient Grains Whisky.
35. James Grant (Little Hong Kong, Edmonton)
The Edmonton barkeep did the impossible—he brought home yet another World Class Global Best Bartender in the World award (a feat previously accomplished by previous Foodie of the Year winner Kaitlyn Stewart in 2017) for his grace under pressure in the industry-leading competition.
36. Dinah Santos, Brock Coutts, Mike Borgford, and Mike McCallum (Patent 5 Distillers, Winnipeg)
The Exchange District distillery has always used cool local ingredients (like saskatoons to make an Old Tom-style gin), but it’s their ready-to-drink cocktails that are bringing their talents to those beyond the bricks-and-mortar location.
37. Taylor Whelan (CedarCreek Estate Winery, Kelowna)
Winemaker Whelan has overseen CedarCreek’s transformation from a well-known winery making reliable bottles to a juggernaut whose Platinum Level releases have risen to the ranks of the most desirable and lauded wines in the country.
38. Omar Mouallem (The Last Baron, Edmonton)
The Edmonton writer (and, full disclosure, former WL contributor) followed up on his award-winning article on the phenomena that is Burger Baron with a full-length documentary on CBC that merged the Lebanese diaspora with rural Alberta and dove deep into the origin myth behind the quirky chain.
39. Kyla Pascal and Kathryn Gwun-Yeen Lennon (Hungry Zine, Edmonton)
This new zine has put its focus on the food justice stories from diverse identities that have been absent from mainstream food media.
40. Mike and Jannah Haas (Angry BBQ, Regina)
This pair of diehard BBQ fans have become a go-to resource for buying guides and recipes for those who love the smoke.
To read the full article with photos: Western Living Magazine