Canada - Dean Kanuit
Vice-Conseiller Culinaire Honoraire, Bailliage of Alberta in Calgary
Executive Chef, Glencoe Club, Calgary (Alberta)
" Follow your passion as there is not necessarily a lot of money at the start but it will come. Take the time to learn the classics, that's the bedrock from which we build. Be committed and hardworking, it will pay off "

A native Calgarian Dean Kanuit is the Executive Chef at Calgary’s prestigious Glencoe Club. Inspired by his mother, who was an excellent cook, Dean watched “The Galloping Gourmet” (a tongue-in-cheek television cooking show hosted by English cooking personality Graham Kerr) through his youth and was fascinated with the possibilities.

He began his formal education at Calgary’s Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT). Following graduation, he apprenticed at the Hotel Chartreuse Hunibach in Switzerland returning to Calgary in 1990 as Sous Chef /Chef de Partie at Restaurant La Chaumière. The owner, Grand Officier Maître Rôtisseur Joseph De Angelis, encouraged Dean to enter the Chaîne’s young chefs’ competition. He went on to win the national final. In 1992 he competed for Canada at the international final in South Africa where he was placed third.

With this result under his belt he stayed on to work in South Africa being acknowledged as South African Young Chef of theYear in 1994. However his native Calgary called him home to a position as Executive Sous Chef for Delta Hotels, under the direction of Executive Chef Vincent Parkinson, (now Chancelier Honoraire). In 1998, he moved on to the Glencoe Club as Executive Chef where he is today managing 51 chefs and support kitchen staff for seven in-house restaurants, covering culinary experiences from fine dining to casual cuisine.

Another key part of his view on his responsibilities is the mentoring and development of apprentices; including coordinating international exposure for their further learning in the field. As outlined in a 2014 article in Calgary’s “Culinaire” magazine, Chef Kanuit believes in sending staff on plum opportunities to foster their growth.

Inducted into the Chaîne in 1999 as a Chef Rôtisseur, he served as Vice-Conseiller Culinaire for the Bailliage of Alberta in Calgary from 2007 to 2009. Over the years he has also assisted aspiring chefs at his alma mater as a member of SAIT’s Professional Cooking Program Advisory Committee directing course content for the programme.

Aside from his Jeunes Chefs Rôtisseurs experience with the Chaîne, Chef Kanuit is no stranger to international competition both as a participant and a coach. In 2016, he will be heading to Singapore with a pair of apprentices from the Glencoe Club to compete in the Food and Hotel Asia Culinary Challenge. The team has been offered the use of the kitchen of Wolfgang Ranner, the winner of 1992 Jeunes Commis Rôtisseurs Final at which Dean came third!

In a Q&A session specially commissioned by the international Chaîne News On-line website, Dean expanded on his thoughts on his profession and its future. See below.

Eric Jones, Chargé de Presse

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You have obviously inspired a lot of young chefs – from where (or who) do you draw your inspiration?
I have a few key players that were there for me at different times in my career. Worthy of special mention is without a doubt Vincent Parkinson, Executive Chef at the Calgary Golf & Country Club, one of Canada's most exclusive private clubs. Vince held nothing back and truly developed and set people up for the next step. A lot of chefs say it, not a lot follow through. Vince has created the legacy I would like to emulate.

What would I say have been the biggest developments in gastronomy that you have witnessed in your years as a chef?
Certainly some of the biggest changes have come via the internet. In the beginning, we waited each month for the next issue of a trade magazine to arrive. That was the insight into trends that were usually six months old by the time we received them. Now it’s a click of a mouse to be informed on the latest developments!

What do you think are the most significant trends and challenges faced by gastronomy today?
From a trend point of view I would say that everyone thinks they’re a foodie. We can thank the Food Network on our television sets and computer screens for that. The trick is to take classical roots and evolve it into a contemporary presentation style. People also have a hard time understanding limitations, especially when feeding a large group. We all want it to look pretty, but it would be nice to have it hot as well!

As for challenges, I am still very much old school. Our predecessors worked hard to establish cooking as a truly skilled profession, something to be honoured and treasured. I especially felt this in Europe when I worked there in the 80s. The Food Network brought our profession into living rooms around the world with the star chefs!! Today we are going backwards in North America – tattoos, ear rings, nose rings, beards and woollen toques in the kitchen. Most look like they stepped out of Depression era abattoirs, not into professional kitchens.

What do you think today’s chefs should be doing to keep moving gastronomy to a new level?
I think the biggest thing is to make a commitment to keep looking at our peers for motivation and enlightenment. This is why I still find competition such a valuable exercise. We are fortunate to be part of an industry that shares new concepts and ideas with each other. Take advantage of it!

What advice would you give to young aspiring chefs?
Follow your passion as there is not necessarily a lot of money at the start but it will come. Take the time to learn the classics, that’s the bedrock from which we build. Be committed and hardworking, it will pay off. Sometimes you need to go two steps back to move forward.