Canada is full of exceptional culinary talent. We all know the names of those who helped put our country on the gastronomic map. They are the chefs we see on TV and in magazines: Mark McEwan, Alvin Leung, Susur Lee, Normand Laprise, Patrick Kriss, Michael Bonacini, Lynn Crawford, Jamie Kennedy, Alex Chen, Scott Jaeger, David Hawksworth… to name a few in the national limelight. But beyond the headlines, there are chefs in cities big and small that should be on your radar because of their creativity, unique flavour combinations and simply because of the impeccable beauty of their dishes. I could fill this entire issue with some of the names past few years, but here are just a few of our current favourites who should be on your radar.
Chef Keith Pears:
You only need to take a peek at his Instagram to see that when it comes to Chef Pears’ cooking, you’re in for a treat. The Vancouverite was born into a family of chefs and destined to become one of Canada’s top culinary talents. He’s won every competition from MasterChef to Chopped, not to mention his latest: gold at Canada’s Great Kitchen Party. Chef Pears recently accepted the role of executive chef at the upcoming W Toronto hotel, scheduled to open later this year. We cannot wait to eat there!
Chef Dan Craig:
From the two Michelin-star Abbaye Saint Ambroix (France) to the Four Seasons Hotel (Sydney) and the Ritz Carlton (Toronto) to his present home at the Westin Harbour Castle, Chef Dan Craig’s name is synonymous with passion, creativity and food mastery. Over the years, Chef Craig has worked with two of the world’s top 50 restaurants and competed in several international culinary events including the 2016 Bocuse d’Or National competition. Though his training is primarily in French cuisine, he loves including flavours from his travels to create fresh, relevant and innovative dishes. If you ever have the chance to try his homemade pâtés, I have no doubt you’ll join me as one of his faithful fans!
Chef Jason Bangerter:
Though he will go down in my history as one of the two chefs that truly made me enjoy carbs, Chef Jason Bangerter is one of the most exquisite chefs in the country. Worth every second of the 75-minute drive from Toronto to Cambridge, Langdon Hall celebrated its 30th anniversary with the number four spot on Canada’s 100 Best Restaurants earlier this year. Part of Canada’s Relais et châteaux, the spa and country club is the only restaurant in Ontario to be awarded the AAA/CAA Five-Diamond rating.
An extraordinary culinary experience, everything in the 116-year-old mansion is exceptional. Chef Bangerter went from one of the city’s best restaurants (Auberge du Pommier) to making Langdon Hall even greater with a splurge-worthy menu of extravagant offerings that change with the seasons. Though he is one of the most influential leaders of the Canadian culinary scene, what I love the most about Chef Bangerter is his passion to give back and mentor the next generation of Canada’s culinary scene.
Chef Jonathan Gushue:
Towering above the falls of the Grand River and Elora Gorge, the Elora Mill Hotel & Spa has been part of the community for over 175 years. Though most come to Elora for the view, the culinary team at the Inn now brings world-class dining to this adorable village. The restaurant serves a true farm-to-table Canadian, vegetable-driven menu that draws its inspiration from the bounty of local fare, artisans and from relationships with organic farmers. Formerly at Langdon Hall and Fogo Island Inn, Chef Gushue is poised to follow in the footsteps of his mentor Chef Jason Bangerter and build the restaurant into a serious culinary destination.
Chef Eric Gonzalez:
Located in the Laurentians, Le Manoir Stone Haven is a destination filled with history and charm but also home to one of Quebec’s most noteworthy chefs. Chef Eric Gonzalez (ex Enfants Terribles, Atelier Joël Robuchon, Hotel Saint-James) is undoubtedly one of the noteworthy chefs in the country. A member of the prestigious Maîtres cuisiniers de France, he received his first Michelin star at the age of 27. His menu oscillates between classics of French cuisine and dishes focused on freshness. Though some experience seekers head north of Montreal for the breathtaking views, nature trails or the hotel’s Italian garden, I recommend heading there for the food.
Brigitte Foisy is the Vice-President of Chefs Canada, an organization that works to shine the spotlight on Canadian cuisine and chefs, as well as our national culinary teams including Bocuse d’Or Team Canada. She has also been working with some of the world’s biggest food and beverage brands for over 25 years.