Featured Chefs from across Canada
Chef Michael Smith, Prince Edward Island
Chef Michael Smith is Canada's best–known chef and a passionate advocate of the dynamic Canadian Cuisine movement. He is a 1991 honours graduate of the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in New York and has cooked professionally for more than twenty years. His career has included stints in a Michelin three-star restaurant in London, some of Manhattan's finest kitchens, South America, the Caribbean and throughout North America. On behalf of Canada he is leading the chef team that will be cooking for the Olympic athletes in Whistler.
In 1992 Smith joined The Inn at Bay Fortune in rural Prince Edward Island. In just a few years it became one of Canada's top-ten restaurants and a showcase for Chef Smith's intensely local cooking. In 1998 Michael's first TV show launched from the Inn's kitchens. The Inn Chef was an immediate hit and today Michael hosts four different series seen in more than 70 countries worldwide including Chef at Large, Chef at Home and Chef Abroad. He has been awarded numerous honours along the way including the prestigious James Beard Broadcast Media award for the best cooking show in North America. Michael has also written four cookbooks, the latest - The Best of Chef at Home - is a smash hit across Canada.
Chef Michael Smith is Prince Edward Island's official Food Ambassador, a much sought after public speaker, newspaper columnist and food activist. He has devoted his career to helping families create simple, practical and nutritious food.
Chef Chris Aerni, New Brunswick
Chris Aerni is one of New Brunswick's most celebrated chefs. In 2001,following traditional chef training in Switzerland and time working around the world, Chef Aerni and his wife Graziella purchased the Rossmount Inn in New Brunswick, an 87-acre estate including an 18-room country inn with a fully licensed bar and restaurant.
The restaurant at the Rossmount Inn is known throughout the Maritimes for its creative, market-fresh cuisine honouring local ingredients and the people who produce them. A true leader of his kitchen, Chef Aerni continues to create dishes with reputations of excellence and artistry – here is where he is most at home.
Continuing with his passion for local ingredients and producers, Aerni participated in the Canadian Chefs' Congress in September 2008, a biennial gathering of chefs from across the country, to reinforce the passion and integrity of the Canadian food culture.
Chef Alain Pignard, Quebec
From Lyon, France, Chef Alain Pignard plied his trade in some of the finest kitchens around the world before coming to Canada, including: Hotel des Ambassadeurs in Paris; the famous Hotel Dorchester in London, where he worked under celebrated Chef Anton Mossiman; and the Cavalieri Hilton in Rome where he was Chef Saucier of the internationally acclaimed restaurant, La Pergola.
In January of 1999, Chef Pignard was appointed Executive Chef of Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth in Montreal, Quebec. Over the next 12 years, Chef Pignard held the positions Chef Saucier of the Beaver Club, Chef for Le Montréalais and Sous Chef of the main kitchens. Often called ‘the man with endless inspiration', Pignard and his 90-member kitchen brigade turn out dishes for not only the Le Montrealais, Les Voyageurs and the legendary Beaver Club at the Queen Elizabeth, but also the hotel's 33 function rooms and 1,039 guest rooms. They also prepare more than 100,000 meals annually for social and highly visible events throughout the city such as the Canadian Center for Architecture, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the Montreal Symphony Orchestra and VIP racing fans at the Formula One Grand Prix of Canada - no small challenge!
Through his classical training, world travels, and experience working under the tutelage of the masters, Chef Pignard has amassed a vast and varied background, which today allows him to showcase his talent and offer guests the creations of his inexhaustible imagination and passion. Highlighting Canadian produce throughout his work, Chef Pignard explains, “I feel the Chef of Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth has a great responsibility to promote the high-quality products of Quebec, and particularly those produced by the small, specialized farmers.”
Chef Donna Dooher, Ontario
Chef Donna Dooher, celebrated cookbook author and restaurateur, is one of North America's leading advocates of the rewards and entertainment value of hands-on cooking. After graduating from the Culinary Arts Program at Ottawa's Algonquin College and pursuing further studies at the University of Guelph's Hospitality Manager's Development Course, Chef Dooher established herself as a prominent figure in the Toronto hospitality community. With over 25 years of professional experience in the kitchen, Donna expanded her successful catering business, Avant-Goût, in 1990 to create an intimate restaurant called Mildred Pierce. Built in the west end of Toronto's warehouse district, Mildred Pierce introduced its guests to a unique dining experience and established brunch as a culinary trend in the city.
In 1998, Chef Dooher founded The Cookworks cooking studio, which offered entertaining and informative workshops focused on practical cooking. The popular concept of the kitchen table proved worthy for the boardroom table and evolved into corporate team building for the business community of Toronto. Her hit Food Network show, The Cookworks, grew out of this initiative and is currently aired in over 120 countries worldwide. In addition, Donna has served as Food Editor for WISH magazine, and authored the best-selling Market to Table cookbook, adding to her previous triumph with Cuisine Canada's award-winning Out to Brunch with Mildred Pierce.
Chef Dooher's newest venture is Mildred's Temple Kitchen in the heart of Toronto's Liberty Village and reflects her commitment to providing locally sourced, seasonal ingredients, simply and sumptuously prepared. Donna sits on the Board of Directors for The Canadian Food Services and Restaurant Association, is the Co-Chair of the Yes Chef! Campaign at George Brown College, is an active member of Slow Food, and a self-proclaimed ‘fork hugger' dedicated to supporting Ontario farmers and local agriculture.
Chef Rémi Cousyn, Saskatchewan
Chef Cousyn grew up in Provence – in the tiny village of Villeneuve Loubet, famous for being the birthplace of France's most renowned chef, Auguste Escoffier. He decided at a young age to pursue cooking as a career and during his apprenticeship years was invited to represent his region in the contest “le meilleur apprentis de France”. After obtaining his French national cooking diploma at the Ecole Hotelière de Nice, Rémi trained under famed chef Roger Vergé in his signature “Cuisine du Soleil” restaurant, Le Moulin de Mougins. After forays in Lugano, Montréal and Whistler, Rémi settled in his wife's family home of Saskatoon.
In 1995, Rémi and his wife Janis took the reins of a popular coffee house called Calories in an up and coming neighbourhood. Never yielding to the pressure to serve the “meat and potatoes” that people were accustomed to, the couple held true to their vision and ideals by pioneering the local food movement in the province and helping develop a clientele who expected something more. Their simple, fresh and unpretentious approach soon won over, and today Calories is a nationally recognized bustling European style bistro and a dining icon for Saskatoonians.
Rémi's creativity and insistence on quality local food inputs forged relationships with many local farmers. This relationship culminated in the 2009 opening of Souleio Foods in downtown Saskatoon, a truly vertically integrated from farm to fork market store and restaurant.
Souleio for Rémi, embodies the true meaning of the word “organic” - authentic, artisanal foods produced with care and attention to the natural environment, encouraging both “pride in place and pride in people”. Souleio promotes a food culture centered around the table, giving food inputs and cookery the respect they deserve, nurturing the link between our personal health, the food we eat and our place within the global community. Chef Cousyn remains devoted in his kitchens to teaching the next generation, instilling in them his love of “terroir” and respect of tradition.
Rémi and Janis received the 2009 Saskatchewan Lauriers de la Petites et Moyennes Entreprises award for entrepreneurial excellence. In 2008 they were named Western Living Magazine's first Restaurateur of the Year, top foodies under 40. Chef Cousyn proudly represented his new Prairie home amongst other respected colleagues at the first Canadian Chefs Congress in 2008. He is a founding member of Villages de Chefs, an association of French chefs working outside of France. These chefs have culinary perspectives that promote French tradition while embracing the culture of their new local environments and food sources. Chef Cousyn will return to Paris, France to launch Villages de Chefs first collaborative cookbook in the Spring of 2010.
Chef Daryle Ryo Nagata, Vancouver
Chef Nagata began his culinary journey at the Westin Hotel in Edmonton. Upon completing his apprenticeship, he began a career that would take him through 18 hotels and restaurants in both Canada and Europe. His goal was to move every year after his apprenticeship to see different leadership styles, other parts of the world, and international styles of cooking.
Currently at Vancouver's Pan Pacific Hotel, Chef Nagata is known locally for his brilliant use of fresh herbs in unique dishes that showcase the tremendous variety of ingredients the Pacific Northwest has to offer. He led the way in the 1990s by planting an extensive herb & edible flower garden on top of what was then Canadian Pacific's Waterfront Centre. His reputation for being on the cutting edge of food flourished with those luxurious gardens. Following an impressive round of international appointments, Chef Nagata has put his creative stamp on each of the hotel's tantalizing menus.
A past appointee to the tasting board of the illustrious Culinary Institute of America, Chef Nagata's stellar international background includes the exclusive Savoy in London, the Hotel La Reserve in Geneva and the Fairmont in Washington, DC, where as executive chef he served as personal chef to numerous heads of state and celebrities. Chef Nagata invites all diners to share his motto: “Nourish your body, feed your soul, happy cooking.”
Chef Nagata's paternal Japanese grandparents were a major influence in his childhood in Alberta. Taking after them, he places high emphasis on health and seeks to provide that same wholesome food – and some education – to visitors. To this day, tofu is one of his favourite comfort foods.