5 Chefs to Watch

The 5 Chefs - L to R: Ricardo Scebba, Dana Ewart, Cameron Smith, Rod Butters, Neil Schroeter

The 5 Chefs – L to R: Ricardo Scebba, Dana Ewart, Cameron Smith, Rod Butters, Neil Schroeter



The Okanagan is full of outstanding chefs, each known for their unique styles and approaches to cuisine. There are the traditional favourites, the “rock star” favourites, the creative favourites. Here are five chefs who have taken their signatures to the next level, bringing in even more fans, whether through marketing, access, branding or a combination of all.


Big Fresh Italian

Eating at Ricardo’s Mediterranean Kitchen in Lake Country is like being invited to join a large, welcoming Italian family for a celebratory dinner. The namesake of the restaurant is Chef Ricardo Scebba, who has owned this popular eatery with his wife Sue Miller since 2001. Eat readers love it, in 2013 naming it “Best restaurant – cooking local.” Chef Scebba’s creations include lots of pastas, seafood and meat mains with a fresh and local spin, since as many ingredients as possible come from regional suppliers, even from the garden of his Italian parents, Connie and Joe Scebba, who you’ll often see in the festive restaurant. Speaking of family, many of Ricardo’s dishes are from his own heritage, including many created by his mother, and are featured in That’s Amore, his bestselling cookbook published in 2011. Ricardo even has a TV show.

Ricardo’s Mediterranean Kitchen, 415 Commonwealth Road, Kelowna, 250-766-6810, www.ricardos.ca


Taking It to the Streets

Chef Neal Schroeter’s Okanagan Street Food was voted “Best new addition to the food and drink scene in the Okanagan” in 2011 and “best dish under $10” in 2013 by Eat Magazine and it’s easy to know why. When you pop into Chef’s cozy eatery in the Kelowna industrial district, you’re in for a blissful surprise. Not only is the renowned and amiable Chef right there in person, right across the counter, but you’ll encounter top-notch gourmet fare, all for the price of a typical lunch. The seared fish taco and pulled pork sandwich immediately come to mind, as well as candied salmon risotto fritters (chile and lemon grass dipping sauce) and amazing daily soups. Chef Schroeter and his team also make and sell entrees, stocks and sauces. You’ll find Okanagan Street Foods at farmer’s markets, special events, and for catering functions. This Red Seal chef worked cross-    country at notable restaurants for years, including overseeing food production at the Whistler Convention Center, and for seven years as Chef de Cuisine at the Cellar Door Bistro at Sumac Estate Winery in Summerland where he was known for his innovative dishes. He now belongs not just a restaurant, but with all of us. Okanagan Street Food, 812 Crowley Avenue, Kelowna, 778-478-0807, www.okanaganstreetfood.com


King of Local

Rod Butters comes to mind when many people think of a chef who focuses his food and beverage menu on produce and products from local suppliers. And if it’s not precisely local, then it’s meat from the Interior and seafood from the West Coast. With Audrey Surrao, he’s the high-profile co-owner of RauDZ Regional Table in Kelowna. When you eat at the 21 foot long communal table in eclectic RauDZ, you’re experiencing fine food and drink and you know exactly where it comes from–they let you know, from the greens to the beers on tap. His ingredient combinations are simple, but unusual, comfort food favourites taken to the next level. Poutine has the addition of chicket confit. Salad greens are graced by grilled pears and a Brie sandwich. Lamb sirloin is accompanied by sauteed gnocci, mushrooms and vegetables. Chef Butters’s past positions and accolades are almost too numerous to list. Besides working with numerous high-profile hotels, he opened the highly esteemed Wickanninish Inn in Tofino, and Fresco Restaurant in Kelowna before RauDZ. Chef Butters was practicing regional cuisine long before it became fashionable to do so. No wonder Eat readers in 2013 named RauDZ restaurant of the year in the Okanagan. RauDZ Regional Table, 1560 Water Street, Kelowna, 250-868-8805, www.raudz.com


Outdoor Abundance

Instrumental in promoting the tradition of dining in the vineyard in the Okanagan, chefs Cameron Smith and Dana Ewart of Penticton’s Joy Road Catering are involved in every aspect of promoting cuisine terroir here in the Valley. In addition to having a presence at the Penticton Farmer’s Market, they cater to events ranging from gourmet picnics to weddings and are esteemed for their summer al fresco outdoor dinners at God’s Mountain Estate in Penticton, which they have been doing for six years. Joy Road is known for its baking–including the Galette, a traditional French tart, filled with fresh Okanagan fruit. All of Smith and Ewart’s menu items and products whenever possible make use of local produce and product. As for their outdoor dinners, they are inspired by whatever happens to be available. Both chefs, from Toronto, are highly trained, worked at many high-profile restaurants and then travelled the world before arriving in the Okanagan where they were inspired by the local bounty.

Joy Road Catering, Penticton, 250-493-8657, www.joyroadcatering.com

— Dona Sturmanis

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