This morning, the VFT Foodies were delighted to chat with foodie legend, Eric Pateman. Eric is the owner of Edible Canada Bistro, partner of our Granville Island Market Tour, and thought-leader in Canada’s culinary scene.
Photo Credit: ericpateman.com
In an inspiring 30-minute discussion, we learned:
- The origins of Edible Canada Bistro on Granville Island
- The state of global food tourism, and
- The defining elements of Canadian cuisine
In summary? With his colourful career path, entrepreneurial spirit, and fervid passion for food, we came away realizing that Eric Pateman might just be the most interesting man in Canada.
Our conversation in 8 Great Quotes from Eric Pateman:
On the origins of Edible Canada
One day, my accountant said, “Did you really spend that much money eating out last year? That’s not possible!” After producing my stack of receipts, my accountant remarked, “…You need to find a tax write off for eating, man.”
Born and bred in Vancouver, Eric Pateman began cooking at the age of 12. He went to Debrulle Culinary School, started a catering company at 17, and worked across Europe in the hotel industry. After completing his MBA at Oxford, he travelled the world doing feasibility and financial analysis of hotels and restaurants in Olympic host cities.
Soon after his accountant’s insightful comments, Eric came across a company called Edible Paris – a culinary concierge service in Paris, France. Inspired by the idea and the promise of “writing off his appetite,” Edible Canada was born in Vancouver.
“I’m a typical entrepreneur. I love shiny objects and I chase them. I come up with things that I love to do and I think: How I can include that in my business?”
11 years later, Eric has over 90 employees between Edible Canada Bistro on Granville Island, 5 retail shops across Canada, a culinary tourism division, and a consulting division.
The Granville Island Market Tour was one of Eric’s first offerings as a “culinary concierge”. Despite its notoriety as a Canadian foodie destination, the Granville Island Public Market was lacking a store focused on the farmers, foragers, and artisans of Canada. 3 months later, Eric filled this niche and opened a small retail shop called Edible British Columbia.
On opening on Granville Island
“I’m a chef, so I’m always a little more interested in the food than the retail stuff.”
In his 400sq ft retail shop, Eric would set up a small table and bring induction burners and a small oven to host pop-up dinners throughout the week. What started as once a month seatings quickly turned to twice a month, and eventually, 5-day-a-week dinners. Without a dishwasher, plates, and settings, they would take all their supplies in and out, every evening.
Some of Vancouver’s best chefs cooked in Eric’s “20-seat pop-up” restaurant, including David Hawksworth and Vikram Vij. With the arrival of the 2010 Olympics, Eric’s after-hours market dinners were attended by corporate groups like Visa and Samsung. Under the watchful eye of the Vancouver Health Inspection, Eric was spurred to move from the Public Market to open his current 86-seater restaurant space on Granville Island: Edible Canada Bistro at 1952 Johnston Street.
On culinary tourism
“Culinary tourism is the hottest thing right now. When someone visits a country, nothing is more photographed than food. Nothing more shared on social media than food. It’s all about how do you better tell the stories of your country through food?”
Eric’s work takes him across the the globe, spending 3 out of 4 weeks on the road. He recently spoke at the World Gastronomy Tourism Conference in San Sebastian. There are 114 countries are entirely focused on food tourism. It is the fastest growing segment in the tourism industry.
On what Eric’s up to
“In a few weeks, we’re taking off for A Flight Across Canada. It’s six of Canada’s best chefs on private jet to across Canada…We’ll be introducing urban food culture to chefs from the North and sharing lessons and techniques with each other.”
You can catch Eric and these 6 chefs in downtown Toronto’s Canada Goose store on July 1. They’ll be whipping up dishes from the Flight Across Canada trip for Canada Day.
Eric currently is writing the culinary strategy for the province of British Columbia. He will be soon be a key player in creating a national food strategy for Canada.
On Canadian cuisine
“Canadian cuisine is defined as local, seasonal, sustainable ingredients, in the hands of many cultures.”
“This resonates across the country. We have a very geography-based cuisine. But really, the food of Canada is dictated by the food we grow and the region that we’re in. West Coast is seafood, foraged…Central Canada is grains, pulses…East Coast is European-influenced, lots of seafood. Everywhere you go you have these amazing ingredients.”
“Another thing that differentiates Canada’s culinary scene? There are no rules. You can combine Thai, Filipino, and French in the same dish, and nobody blinks. We just eat and it’s so good!”
About 3 years ago, a study was conducted by PhD students from the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Italy. Focused on defining national food cultures, these students travelled across Canada for two weeks and were finally asked, “What is Canadian food to you?”
“They had 63 different nationality’s cuisine over a two week period. That’s not unique unto itself, but the fact that many of these dishes were better than the home country where those dishes originated from…that’s unique. The ingredients that we grow in Canada are known around the world as known as some of the best – top quality products, grown in a pristine environment.”
“We did a call-in program with CBC and did a segment on, “What is Christmas dinner in your house?” There were so many people that responded…we had 300 people on hold.”
“People would say, “I have Thai salad, with perogies, with roasted salmon…” and that was everyone! You don’t hear someone who just says, “I have turkey.” Or if they did, they soaked it in fish sauce and stuffed it with lemongrass. And that’s Canada!”
Experience a slice of Canada
Learn more about our Granville Island Market Tour, in partnership with Edible Canada.