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South Shuswap Scoop Flip of a Coin

Things could have turned out very differently for Chef Michael Roszell, Chef de Cuisine of Quaaout Lodge if the coin had landed heads.  

Michael grew up in the Yukon and there he developed his love of cooking from local ingredients under the tutelage of his mom and aunts who were all great scratch home cooks.  He also had a passion for the outdoors and conservation became a lifelong interest.  When it was time to choose a career path, he decided to let his fate be decided by the flip of a coin!  Lucky for us and the Shuswap’s Jack Sam’s Restaurant, tails meant he enrolled in the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts in Vancouver.  

Michael’s experience grew as he first directed his talents towards pastry and spent time working with many of BC’s best Chefs including our very own Chris Whittaker back when he was Chef at Forage, Ned Bell during his tenure at the Four Seasons and Scott Yaeger from Pear Tree.  Michael also crossed the Atlantic and did a stint working for Michelin Star Chef Tom Kitchin at Edinburgh’s leading gastropub, The Scran & Scallie where he discovered a passion for food styles.  

It was when Michael was at Pear Tree in Burnaby that he was encouraged by Chef Yaeger to enter competitions.  During his time at Pear Tree, he competed in the Chaine des Rotisseurs' young chefs national competition and was a finalist in the Hawksworth Young Scholarship Program winning the Pastry Award.  Fast forward to today and we are so excited to share that Michael has revived his passion for competition and is one of four finalists in the Garland Canada Culinary Competition!  

Chefs from all over Canada applied to the annual cooking competition that features national top emerging talent and offers over $10,000 in cash and prizes.  Culinary schools across Canada reviewed dozens of applications narrowing them down to ten semi-finalists.  Michael and his fellow semi-final nominees were asked to invite a panel of three judges into their home kitchens (virtually) and share a 45 minute culinary demonstration, which creatively reflected the theme of Revival and incorporated a black box ingredients and pantry list. Judges then select the final four to move forward.   Our very own Chef Roszell will be cooking live May 10th in Toronto at the Restaurants Canada Show competing head to head in a timed cooking demo.  We are so excited to cheer him on!  

Recently we had a chance to chat with Michael about his choice to come to the Shuswap.  Originally intended as a yearlong stint working for Chef Whittaker with thoughts of returning to Europe, Michael like so many of us fell in love with the Shuswap siting it as a rare opportunity to find a welcoming community and a bounty of fresh and local ingredients and producers.  Michael’s goal is to share his combined love of cooking and the Shuswap by helping to bring some new opportunity to the area. Entering competitions not only helps him to continue to finetune his skill but believes it can attract more talented individuals to work, live and play in the Shuswap and ultimately, help to elevate Canada’s culinary reputation.  

As for his own future, he imagines one day owning an intimate place somewhere in the Shuswap that is an experience for guests and cooks.  A place to learn, mentor, create and thrive.  Great local food, wine, stories and atmosphere.  We can’t wait!

Of course we couldn’t let him go without asking for a few words about his boss and mentor, Chef Whittaker.  “Chef Chris is a man with a purpose and has a vision for the future of gastronomy. Not through techniques and fancy plating but through how we interact with our surrounding community.  A man who will leave an everlasting impact on those people around him, including myself.”

Good luck Michael! We are excited for you and for your Shuswap vision.  

Follow Michael’s competition here and don’t forget to vote for him as Fan Favourite between April 25th and May 9th.  

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