David Hawksworth is a star of Canada’s dining scene. The Vancouver chef’s eponymous restaurant, open since 2011, was named Canada’s Best Restaurant by Maclean's magazine the following year. Since then, Hawksworth, and the restaurant that bears his name, have continued to raise the bar on Canadian dining in terms of cuisine, experience, and social consciousness.
As one of Canada's most renowned chefs and a native Vancouverite, what would you say are the top three West Coast culinary trends for this season? How do Montreal and Vancouver's culinary trends differ?
Three West Coast culinary trends for this season are share plates, great pizza and fresh fish crudos. I am not as familiar with Montreal's culinary scene, but from the few times I have had the pleasure of visiting, I really enjoyed the neighbourhood restaurants and delicious food.
Let's talk about the fight against food waste. When did you first become aware of the importance of reducing food waste? What are some things you and your family do at home in your own kitchen to help reduce waste?
From the first day I worked in a kitchen, I became conscious of how much food waste their is in our industry. Here in Vancouver and in my home it is mandatory to compost all food scraps as well we recycling everything possible.
What does success mean to you?
Success for me would be to do my part in elevating Canada to be recognized as a culinary destination with some of the best restaurants and chefs in the world.
Giving back to the community is a consistent theme in your career. Can you share the inspiration behind some of these recent initiatives (Mealshare, Growing Chefs/ Eat.Give.Grow)?
It is important to me to provide for those who haven't been as fortunate as myself. Growing up in Vancouver, I had the privilege of never going without, but I truly understand that many people in our country, and beyond, don't have this luxury. Some struggle to put food on the table for their families and the importance of fresh produce and nutrition has at times been lost in our society in recent years. It is important for me to lead by example through education, community partnerships and philanthropic work, as I have a platform and voice that I can lend to a wide variety of causes that are really making a difference. Giving back is a huge part of my belief system and I hope to continue my work in this area for years to come.
Educating and supporting emerging chefs is another passion, particularly in regards to the Hawksworth Young Chef Scholarship Foundation. Why is this so important to you?
Having spent a lot of my career working in Europe, there were a number of competitions such as the Roux Scholarship that really inspired and offered young chefs the opportunity to learn and gain exposure. When I returned to Canada I realized that our country didn't have anything of this calibre and that is why I set out to create the Hawksworth Young Chef Scholarship. It is important to me to provide a platform where young chefs can be exposed and show their talents to some of the best in the country as well as have the opportunity to hone their skills through competition and an international stage.
What have you, the mentor, personally learned from these young talents?
I am always inspired by the courage these young talents have. It is hard enough to compete with their top culinary peers, but having to present to an esteemed panel of judges is also nerve-racking. Their creativity inspires me to always push myself and strive to do more unique dishes in the kitchen.
What can fans expect from your anticipated cooking demo at the Phi Centre?
People will be surprised by the combination of summer ingredients with the versatility of stale bread, and will hopefully think twice before putting it in the garbage.
Watch David Hawksworth in Montreal for his series The Next Course.
Follow Chef Hawksworth as he travels the country in search of the Canada’s top culinary talent. The journey takes him to Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Montreal before the Hawksworth Young Chef Scholarship national finals. Along the way Chef meets with other top culinary personalities and discusses the current climate of the Canadian food scene.