6 Top Hotel Chefs Answer “What is Canadian Cuisine?”

By Andrew Wong,

150 years later and Canadians still can’t seem to agree on what is the true “bread and butter” of their national cuisine. Poutine? Maple syrup? Butter tarts?

Who better to ask than the culinary authorities from top hotels across the country who are dreaming up new ways of showcasing Canada’s bounty with each season. For visitors from abroad and from closer by, these top hotel chefs are masters at adding a Canadian twist to their menus.

 

Chef Chris Smythe of the Prince of Wales Hotel in Niagara-on-the-Lake

Canadian potluck dish: Niagara Preserved Peaches with House made Ricotta Cheese

“My idea of Canadian cuisine is a menu based on the concept of using food items that have been produced or grown in Canada.  I always look to the seasons and the Terroir from which you are basing your menu from.  Food items grown or produced in Canada taste different from say food items grown or produced in Europe because of the soil and climate.”

Niagara-on-the-Lake The Prince of Wales Hotel Escabeche restaurant filet mignon

Photos courtesy of Vintage Hotels

Why foodies ought to come to the Prince of Wales:

In Niagara on the lake there are many festivals with celebrations of food and drink, the 2 largest are the Peach festival and the Ice Wine festival.  If I were to pick an ingredient that sets us apart from most other areas of the world I would have to say it is our production of Icewine.  A recipe that I have used time and time again that encompasses Icewine with other seasonal ingredients is “Niagara Apple and Cranberry Crumble with CDC Vidal Icewine.

Niagara-on-the-Lake The Prince of Wales Hotel Escabeche Restaurant dining room

Your best bets for a memorable meal in Niagara-on-the-Lake: Masaki Restaurant and Mason at Silver Smith Brewery

Junk food guilty pleasure: Classic Quebec “Poutine”

Where Chef Smythe is headed next: Definitely Coastal France (Normandy), Wine/Cheese/Fresh Fish/Time stands still.

 

The Prince of Wales

 

Vintage Hotels focuses on a high standard of Culinary experiences, each dining outlet has their interpretation of what Canadian foods embody.  The chefs create local and seasonal menus to reflect each of their personalities as well as showing what Niagara has to offer at these times of year.

 

Niagara-on-the-Lake The Prince of Wales Hotel canopy bed

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The Prince of Wales Hotel is a landmark of Picton Street in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Guestrooms with individual personality and award-winning hospitality start from $240.


 

Chef Stephen La Salle of the Andaz Ottawa ByWard Market

Canadian potluck dish: Butter tarts

“Canadian cuisine is definitely an expression of the people that are around us, from the people that were here to the influences that settled here and the fabric of our communities today using what grows best here.”

Andaz Ottawa ByWard Market saucer

Photos courtesy of the Andaz Ottawa ByWard Market

Why foodies ought to come to the Andaz Ottawa ByWard Market:

Our “beaver dough”, deep fried pastry just like the sweet Ottawa treat but savoury, topped with local braised elk meat, Canadian mustard seeds marinated in local beer and sweet caramelized onions on top.”

“In Ottawa we’re right on the border of Ontario and Quebec, English and French Canada. Our novel take on poutine has all of the ingredients of a classic Quebecois poutine but with the flavours of a classic English style roast, topped with a cheese curd foam for fun.

Andaz Ottawa ByWard Market cocktail

Your best bet for a memorable meal in Ottawa: Oz Kafe

Junk food guilty pleasure: Ketchup Chips

Where Chef La Salle is headed next: With every Andaz being different with huge roots and reflection of their neighbourhood and community, I’d love to see how my fellow Andaz chefs promote their locale in their hotels.  Soon to open, Andaz Munich is high on my list as well as some of our sister hotels in Tokyo, Delhi, Costa Rica, and Hawaii.

 

Andaz Ottawa ByWard Market

 

[At Feast and Revel] We are constantly exploring and pushing the boundaries of what we know to be Canadian food. By applying sophisticated techniques to familiar flavours, we are able to showcase a completely new dining experience based on the season.

 

Andaz Ottawa ByWard Market Feast Revel entrance

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The Andaz Ottawa ByWard Market is located one block east of the capital’s most famous marketplace and within walking distance of the Rideau and Parliament Hill. Sleek rooms with contemporary furnishings start from $169.


 

Chef JW Foster of the Fairmont Banff Springs

Canadian potluck dish: Elk Tartare

“To me, the fabric of Canadian cuisine has a very multicultural feel – we are a nation of immigrants from around the world, and this is ideal for a chef. We have access to so many amazing small farmers, producers and artisans that bring such passion to the items they grow and create. We are very fortunate to live in a vast country with such diversity in its landscape, and there is a bounty of foraging opportunities from coast to coast that inspire chefs to celebrate our land.”

Fairmont Banff Springs bar restaurant

Photos courtesy of the Fairmont Banff Springs

Why foodies ought to come to the Fairmont Banff Springs:

To truly experience the best of Banff and Alberta, I would say you have to enjoy a 50oz full rib bone-in Tomahawk in our 1888 Chophouse. We work in partnership with a small ranch in Southern Alberta to bring in prime-graded whole beef carcasses and we dry-age in house for 45 days. It creates quite a stir in the restaurant when wheeled through the dining room and carved tableside!  Alberta is known for amazing beef and this dish definitely lives up to that international reputation.

Fairmont Banff Springs restaurant banquette seating

Your best bets for a memorable meal in Banff: Grapes Charcuterie & Wine Bar

Junk food guilty pleasure: His own special poutine with duck fat fries, double-smoked wild boar bacon & Bleu Fumé cheese

Where Chef Foster is headed next: I have always wanted to stay at Ashford Castle in Co. Mayo, Ireland to explore a hotel built in 1228 while foraging and feasting in the Irish countryside

 

Fairmont Banff Springs

 

At the Castle we showcase the best of Canada and our many talented producers. I always say that if a guest spends only one night in Banff, we’ll give them an authentically local experience they will always remember. In our 1888 Chophouse we have in-house dry-aged beef and amazing wild game from across Alberta. We do extensive in-house pickling and preserving, we smoke and cure our own meats and fish, all of which are showcased throughout the hotel.  And when the sun shines, relax on our STOCK Food & Drink patio, watching the apprentices tend the rooftop greenhouse and garden!

 

Fairmont Banff Springs suite living room

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The Fairmont Banff Springs is found right in the heart of Banff National Park with no shortage of outdoor activities in all four seasons. Cozy yet tasteful rooms at this historic hotel start from $315.


 

Chef Julien Ouellet of the Auberge Saint-Antoine in Quebec City

Canadian potluck dish: Cipaille (a traditional dish from Quebec made of game meat)

It’s a cuisine that is built on a rich heritage. It’s comforting and soothing in cold winter months without being labelled as Nordic and refreshing in the warm season. It roots on a vast territory which provides with a unique variety of meats, vegetables and grains.”

Photos courtesy of the Auberge Saint-Antoine

 

Why foodies ought to come to Quebec City:

One would immediately have to say the famous “poutine” but it would be a mistake to forget about dishes such as the “tourtière” (kind of a meat pie). There’s no firm recipe for this dish as it will vary from family to family but to me this is how you know it’s become something cultural.

Auberge Saint-Antoine restaurant Chez Muffy

Photo courtesy of the Auberge Saint-Antoine

Your best bets for a memorable meal in Quebec City: St-Joseph street offers for fine groceries, bistros, classy restaurants, ethnic food, tea and coffee shops.

Junk food guilty pleasure: Grilled cheese sandwich

Where Chef Ouellet is headed next: La Chèvre d’Or, Relais & Châteaux

 

The Auberge Saint-Antoine

 

To enjoy meals made of the best local products the season has to offer (farm to folk) and to experience the warm and charming atmosphere of our dining room in the heart of Old Quebec City.

 

Quebec City Auberge Saint-Antoine bedroom sun

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The Auberge Saint-Antoine is a trivago Awards 2017 Winner in the 4-star hotel category. Rooms that honour architectural elements from the city’s English and French pasts start from $206.


 

Chef Daniel Vézina of Laurie Raphaël at Hôtel Le Germain Montréal

Canadian potluck dish: Tourtière of Lac St-Jean (made with various wild game meat and potato) served with homemade ketchup

It’s a multi-ethnic cuisine, sometimes classic, sometimes eclectic!
From an ocean to the other, in a metropolis or in a small village, we can enjoy local products or products of every country in the world. A varied cuisine filled with tradition and novelty!

Laurie Raphaël appetizer

Photos courtesy of Laurie Raphaël

Why foodies ought to come to Montreal: 

  • Smoked meat at Schwartz’s
  • Poutine at La Banquise
  • Hot dogs at Montréal Pool Room

Laurie Raphaël foie gras

Your best bets for a memorable meal in Montreal: Little Italie is a place where a lot a foodie from Montreal go. I go to Jean-Talon Market 2 to 3 times a week!

Junk food guilty pleasure: Late night poutine and roast beef sandwich from Ashton

Where Chef Vézina is headed next: The Loden Hotel, Vancouver

Hôtel Le Germain Montréal

 

[The experience at the hotel’s restaurant] is worth it as much for the creative cuisine inspired by our country as for the thoughtful and warm service which always made the trademark of the Laurie Raphaël.
The decoration and the relaxed atmosphere carry you towards a universe of discovery where every detail is the object of a particular attention.

 

Hotel Le Germain Montreal Laurie Raphaël restaurant

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The Hôtel Le Germain is one of downtown Montreal’s smartest hotels, offering an “oasis of peace and tranquillity” at a compelling price. Classic rooms and larger suites start from $240.


 

Chef Daniel Schick of the Omni King Edward Hotel in Toronto

Canadian potluck dish: Raclette Cheese served alongside in the skin boiled potatoes, gherkins and pearl onions and a peppermill (a communal dish that honours my Swiss heritage)

To me, Canadian cuisine encompasses foods that were hunted and gathered by Indigenous Canadians, which were then influenced and enriched by Canada’s long multicultural history.

We see the resurgence of foraging and gathering with the integration of regional ingredients in Canadian cuisine. For myself and for other chefs in the industry, there is now a direct dialogue between growers and chefs. This has created agricultural partnerships with Canadian growers, which means sourcing the best sustainable, local ingredients for all of our dishes.

Toronto Omni King Edward hotel high tea

Photos courtesy of the Omni King Edward Hotel

Why foodies ought to come to Toronto: 

It has to be the peameal bacon and egg sandwich from the St. Lawrence Market. The market has a vibrant past, with unique merchants and artisans right around the corner from The Omni King Edward Hotel. Grabbing a quick bite at the Market is a quintessential Toronto experience.

Toronto Omni King Edward hotel buffet

Your best bets for a memorable meal in Toronto: There is a growing demand for vegan and vegetarian restaurants like Planta, Doug’s Public Kitchen and Veghed.

Junk food guilty pleasure: Duck Confit Poutine is a classic Canadian dish, but elevated.

Where Chef Schick is headed next: I’ve been lucky enough to visit the Alto Atacama Desert Lodge & Spa in Chile. It is a place of extremes unlike anything you’ve experience; it’s an oasis of green juxtaposed against the third largest desert in the world.

The Omni King Edward

 

The Omni King Edward Hotel is a place to enjoy the time-honoured tradition of Afternoon Tea, complete with delicate sandwiches and classically prepared sweets, loved for more than a century. Another incredible food experience to enjoy is the Hotel’s famous Sunday Brunch made from locally sourced ingredients.

Toronto Omni King Edward hotel bar

 

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Found right on King Street East in Downtown Toronto, The Omni King Edward has been a champion of luxury hospitality in Canada’s largest city for over 100 years. Sumptuous guestrooms at this timeless hotel start at $224.

What is Canadian cuisine to you? Let us know in the Comment section.

Feature photo courtesy of Laurie Raphaël