Over the past few years, Edmonton’s food scene has been rejuvenated with new hot spots serving incredible possibilities beyond the usual steak and potatoes: artisan pastries, gourmet and locally sourced dishes, beautiful brunch specialties, craft cocktails, and more. Though these modern and internationally renowned restaurants may astonish (and please) return visitors to the city who were unaware of the city’s burgeoning food scene, it’s no surprise to Vinod Varshney, Program Chair of NAIT’s Culinary Arts, and the culinary teams he’s been coaching and winning international competitions with over the years.
Since 2004, the team has earned dozens of medals at competitions in Erfurt, Dubai, Singapore, and other culinary hubs in the world. “The proof is in the pudding,” quips Varshney, “when [Culinary Team NAIT] can compete against the best in the world and still come back with medals.” At the 2013 Hong Kong International Culinary Classic, Culinary Team NAIT took home 20 medals in total, setting a record for most medals awarded to a team at the competition!
Why have Edmonton and its chefs seen so much success on the world stage? Varshney offers a simple answer that comes down to the qualities required of a great chef: a dedicated practice, good attitude, creativity, and time-management skills. “These students do a lot of practicing,” says Varshney. “When there is a will, there’s a way. These students are hungry and very eager to learn.”
For someone who’s experienced so much recognition for his leadership and tasted cuisines from around the world, Varshney still finds many reasons to admire the chefs and restaurants in Edmonton. Among his recommendations are the contemporary regional dishes of Larry Stewart at Hardware Grill, the Indian delights of Deependra Singh at Guru Fine Indian Cuisine, and the unique and delectable creations of Frank Olson at Canteen.
The appeal of Edmonton’s food scene will continue to intrigue travellers from around the world, and you don’t have to follow the teams to competitions to taste some of their appealing dishes. To start your mouth watering, review this list of the award-winning chefs and restaurants in the city receiving national and international acclaim:
10th on enRoute’s 2011 list of Canada’s Best New Restaurants | Eat his work at Corso 32
Former Culinary Team NAIT member | Eat his work at Nineteen
2016 Edmonton Gold Metal Plates Winner | Eat his work at Prairie Noodle Shop
4th on enRoute’s 2014 list of Canada’s Best New Restaurants | Eat his work at RGE RD
Former Culinary Team NAIT member & medal winner | Eat his work at Duchess Bake Shop
2016 Canadian Food Champion in Steak | Eat her work at Woodwork
Winner on Season One of Food Network’s Chopped Canada | Eat her work at Atlas Steak + Fish
2015 Edmonton Gold Metal Plates Winner | Eat his work at Solstice Seasonal Cuisine