Chefs Name their Ultimate Canadian Ingredients


Photo credit: Abdallahh/Flickr/CC
Photo credit: Abdallahh/Flickr/CC

Happy Canada Day!

I recently asked a handful of Western Canadian Chefs: “What is your ultimate Canadian ingredient?” Here are their answers.

I love berries, berries and more berries. I’ll eat them all: saskatoons, strawberries, salmon berries, huckleberries, soapberries. I grew up picking saskatoons,  soapberries and strawberries with my grandma and as an adult discovered the others. They signal summer and pies and time with family – what else is Canada Day about, really?

I hope you can find some of these Canadian flavours at your local grocery shops/backyards/ butchers/gardens and use them. 

Chef Jonathan Chovancek

“Maple Syrup has both sweet or savoury applications and has a completely distinct flavour. Plus, nothing says Canada like tapping a tree in the middle of winter, and cooking down the maple sap into sugar and drinking maple rye,” Jonathan Chovancek, Executive Chef, Cafe Medina, Vancouver, B.C.

“Sablefish is Ocean Wise certified and sustainably harvested from the North Pacific Ocean. It is very versatile and perfect for roasting in high heat. At Boulevard, we prepare it with a gai lan flan, beech mushrooms, shallot, coconut rice and lemon grass vinaigrette,” Alex Chen, Executive Chef, Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar, Vancouver B.C.

Chef Robin Wasicuna from Wiseguy Foods, soon to be Twin Pines Diner
Chef Robin Wasicuna from Wiseguy Foods, soon to be Twin Pines Diner. Photo credit: Patrick Kane

“Cranberry and juniper. Great sweet and savory applications and available country-wide!” Robin Wasicuna, Chef, Wiseguy Foods/Twin Pines Diner, Yellowknife, Northwest Territories

“Smoked or candied salmon encompasses a piece of Canadian history as well as primitive cooking techniques. Another quintessentially Canadian staple would be wild rice, which has been cultivated in Canada for thousands of years,” David Gunawan, Chef/Owner, Farmer’s Apprentice/Royal Dinette

Chef Blair Lebsack of RGE RD
Chef Blair Lebsack of RGE RD

“My ultimate Canadian ingredient is Bison. We always try to use the whole animal so my favourite summer preparation is grilled bison heart with potato salad, pickled mushrooms and horseradish gremolata,” Blair Lebsack, RGE RD, Edmonton, AB

“Sockeye Salmon is part of Canadian history and renowned around the world. It’s extremely versatile — from barbecue to smoked to sushi — and quintessentially British Columbia, especially when caught off the coast of Quadra Island,” Dan Olson, Chef/Owner, Railtown Cafe and Railtown Catering.

Chef Brad Holmes of Olo
Chef Brad Holmes of Olo

“Wild mushrooms; chanterelles, morels, porcini and pine mushroom just to few name a few of my favourites. I love the meaty texture and great forest aroma. They are great grilled, pickled or roasted. Yum!” Brad Holmes, Olo, Victoria, B.C.

What’s your favourite Canadian ingredient? How do you prepare it? Share your thoughts in the comments below. 

PS I realize these are all dudes. I will be focusing more on lady chefs in the future…my bad.





4 responses to “Chefs Name their Ultimate Canadian Ingredients”

  1. Jaillan Yehia Avatar

    Great idea for a post – now that I’ve lived here a couple of years I totally understand the superiority of all these Canadian ingredients – sockeye and berries in particular, but before that I would only have been able to name the maple syrup. And I’d love to see a follow-up with female chefs too. But really, no need to apologise for the dudes 🙂

    1. mpost Avatar

      Hi Jaillan – The list of ingredients surprised me actually, I thought it would be more maple syrupy. Fun fact: I didn’t know wild rice was Canadian until this article. Thanks for reading – follow the blog on Facebook: and you’ll see when I interview those female chefs I admire.

  2. Helen Avatar

    Well this was enlightening. Sablefish, cranberry and juniper, huh? Some interesting surprises here, even for a Canadian like me. 🙂

    1. mpost Avatar

      I was surprised too – I’m going to totally look for a recipe with juniper in it and/or sablefish. Thanks for stopping by Helen!

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