Joël Watanabe was born in 1976 in Ottawa, Canada to a French mother and a Japanese father, a family of food lovers. His great grandfather was a chef in Corsica, his father is a tofu maker, and Joel's mother always cooked all their family meals from scratch and instilled a love for food in Joel from an early age. He began apprenticing in restaurant kitchens at age 17 and moved to Montreal where he often held two jobs at the same time. At 21, Joël was mentored by a chef from the Japanese embassy who was hired to train him in sushi at Icho restaurant in Ottawa. This disciplined educatio n imparted valuable skills as well as a keen respect for Japanese cuisine. He quickly moved up through the ranks and in 2000, he was hired for his first chef position to open Kinki, a high‐end modern sushi restaurant back in his hometown of Ottawa.
Food Network's popular 'Opening Soon' show chose the restaurant for one of their episodes. Kinki opened to rave reviews and was considered a huge success. After a year Joël felt that it was time to improve upon his European technique and moved back to Montreal where he honed his French and Italian skills. In 2004 he moved to Whistler, Canada and worked at Araxi for 3 years as the raw bar chef which has won the best fine dining award in Whistler for numerous years in a row in the Vancouver Magazine Restaurant Awards. During this time, he was chosen to be part of a team to go to Rome to cook for the Governor General at the Canadian Consulate. Following his travels around south east Asia and a brief stint cooking in Melbourne, Joël moved to Vancouver where he worked with Gord Martin at Bin 942 which won best small plates the year he was there. Afterwards, he was opening chef at La Brasserie.
In 2009, Tannis Ling approached Joel with her concept of modern Chinese food, updating classic dishes and placing them in an intimate atmosphere. In January of 2010, Bao Bei opened its doors and became an instant success, winning a series of awards, including Enroute Magazine's second best restaurant in Canada award. Critics were enamored with the menu and lauded the blending of French and Japanese techniques with traditional Chinese flavors. Joël continues to titillate the palates of Bao Bei costumers with his unique approach to Chinese cuisine.
Kunal Ghose, chef/co-owner of Red Fish Blue Fish, (in Victoria's beautiful Inner Harbour), and creator of the popular "tacones", sleeps well at night knowing that success came via sustainable practices. After 20 plus years of running restaurants for others (and not so sustainably), when the opportunity came up to do it right in Victoria, he jumped on it. The Ocean Wise program aided him in creating a 100% sustainable menu. Well studied and passionate about the issues that face our oceans, Kunal is acutely aware that hand selecting the finest and most ethical seafood for his kitchen serves a great purpose for the longevity of his business and for our oceans. Redfish Bluefish composts and recycles nearly all of the waste created. Kunal has had some TV appearances that include "Eat St." and being a chef'testant on "Top Chef Canada", as well as other recent media in "Reader's Digest", "Western Living" and "Yam "magazines . His recipes and tips have been also been published in "The Oceanwise Cookbook", "A Good Catch" and soon to grace the, "Eat St. Cookbook". Twitter follow him at @ChefishBluefish.
After competing (and placing second) on Top Chef Canada 2012, Chef Trevor Bird was inspired to open the farm-to-table Fable restaurant in Kitsilano. "I've always been very passionate about how things are grown," he says, "and knowing where food comes from." Chef Bird earned a degree in culinary management from Ottawa's Algonquin College, was the chef de partie at MARKET in the Shangri-La Hotel in and has also worked as a chef at Truffert and as a sous chef at Restaurant Garcon (both in Montreal) along with Sooke Harbor House and Lumiere (Vancouver).
Peter's palate was shaped by growing up in an Italian household and part of an extended family of food lovers. This childhood spawned a quest to find the perfect place in the world to live and cook great food. Peter began his career at esteemed establishments in Toronto and Vancouver earning the opportunity to work in both the kitchen and the gardens of the world- renowned Sooke Harbour House on Vancouver Island. There he was introduced to the amazing bounty of the Island and started to truly understand the relationship between food and the land you live on. But Peter is a wanderer at heart, so culinary education continued with extensive travels to South East Asia and India. Here his eyes were opened to the glory of the East and its diverse food philosophies; however, it was after the death of his beloved grandfather he felt a need to further explore his own ethnicity which resulted in his four year of living in Italy. Traveling and cooking there brought him back to his food roots and the deep understanding of the connection between the land, food and people. He was further able to form his own philosophy about an uncomplicated yet passionate approach to food and wine. On a trip home to Canada, Peter realized that the best to be had could be easily found on Vancouver Island. At Zambri's he has been able to bring together his artistry and passion for cooking, love of food and commitment to the place one lives. He has been part of the Island Chef Co-Operative; trained and fostered a number of younger cooks who now have gone on to successful careers of their own and actively participates in food-related programs on Vancouver Island.
Khalil Akhtar is a CBC journalist and food writer. He can be heard daily as co-host on CBC Radio's On The Island. His weekly radio column on food issues airs on CBC morning programs across Canada. He teaches South Asian cuisine at Cook Culture in Victoria.
Chef Chris Whittaker is fast becoming a well-known name in Vancouver, and not just in culinary circles. Whittaker is the force behind Forage, a vibrant addition to Vancouver's West End dining scene (opened November 2012). With his guidance, Forage has become the pioneer restaurant for responsible management through Zero waste efforts, reduction of energy consumption and support of our local communities, from farmers to fishers, and everything in between. Forage supports Ocean Wise and Whittaker is a double gold medal winner at their annual Chowder Chowdown.
About Forage. Casual, comfortable and affordable, Forage celebrates all things BC. The menu is locally focused in both food and beverage; service is attentive yet never fussy, and its approachable West End location (1300 Robson Street) makes Forage a "local's local". It's an ideal destination for breakfast seven days a week, brunch on weekends, and nightly for drinks and dinner from 5:00 pm.