Meet Your Maker – The VDPM re-opens April 4

A scene of the Victoria Downtown Public Market on the last day of their winter session in Market Square. Photos by Ellie Shortt

March 17 marked the last day of the Victoria Downtown Public Market Society’s winter market. Not only did the St. Patrick’s Day date bring some lively Celtic music and a sprinkling of cheerful green coloured visitors, but the sun was shining and the birds were chirping, singing in the start of the upcoming spring and summer market that will begin April 4.


For Maryanne Carmack, who has helped with the VDPM communications since last spring, this is a very exciting time of year. With a consistent show of approximately 20 vendors each Saturday during the winter, Carmack anticipates added growth with nicer weather. “Expect to see our market take over the inner courtyard of Market Square,” she says. “We will have fresh herbs, plants, mushroom starter kits, berries, eggs, an abundance of fresh produce, bread, cheese, ice cream, salt, pasta, tortillas, pesto, chilies, seafood, meat products… the list goes on and on!”


They will also be holding the market on a Wednesday instead of the wintertime Saturday scene. This will open a new dimension to potential customers who Carmack admits already have “so many other wonderful markets happening on the weekend” that she  “wouldn’t want [the] vendors to have to choose.” Always consciousness and respectful to one another, this collaborative relationship is something Carmack says she loves the most about the VDPM. She notes that they currently operate the “only food focused foodie market in Victoria celebrating local producers and artisans” whereby you can do most of your grocery shopping through the VDPM vendors, support the local economy and actually get to know the faces behind the food.


Speaking of the faces behind the food, here are five vendors that are well worth getting know this spring-summer season, whether you’re a fresh first timer or a veteran market-goer.


Maryanne Carmack, an owner and chef of El Guapo with one of their top selling chorizo sausage sandwiches

El Guapo

The brainchild of Carmack and her husband Ryan McGregor, El Guapo is simple, delicious and was one of the top attractions of the winter market this year. A more recent player in the VDPM scene, this artisan food cart serves legendary chorizo sandwiches made from smoky, hot paprika-packed sausage topped with rocket, juicy red pepper and fresh arugula, placed on a chargrilled olive oil-dressed bun. A stand-alone meal without the fuss of added condiments, there’s no mystery as to why El Guapo sells out every time. And if you’re looking for a take home treat, try their addictive smoked paprika salt, made in collaboration with another market vendor, Andrew Shepherd of The Vancouver Island Salt Company.

Join them on FB or twitter @elguapogrillvic



Matt Horn, the owner and chef of the Cowichan Pasta Company with his collaborative spaghetti carbonara

Cowichan Pasta Company

Matt Horn, owner and chef of the Cowichan Pasta Company, is another vendor whose products prove to be a perfect example of the benefits of vendor collaboration. Smoked chanterelle mushrooms from Untamed Feast, alder smoked salt from the Vancouver Island Salt Company, fromage frais from Hilary’s Artisan Cheese and eggs from Omnivore Acres Farm add to his rich and amazing carbonara. Along with other marvellous mid-day market snacks, he provides taste testers for shoppers’ take-home pasta choices.

Phone: 250-732-2457, Website:








Hilary’s Artisan Cheese

Hilary Abbott, owner and cheesemaker of Hilary's Artisan Cheese

While this friendly artisanal cheesemaker’s fromage frais mentioned above is beyond belief, that’s just one of Hilary’s many wonderful French inspired, washed rind, cow and goats milk cheeses. Working close with his neighbour farmers in the Cowichan Valley, there’s never a question of quality and freshness when sampling Hilary’s cheeses at the market or at their Fort Street location.

Farm: 1725 Cowichan Rd Bay Cowichan Valley, Subd. B, BC (250) 748-5992

Store: 1034 Fort St, Victoria BC (250) 388-5810



Autumn Maxwell, owner and chef of Cold Comforts with a macaron ice cream sandwich

Cold Comfort
Although Cold Comfort has been a bit hit at the winter market this year, it’s easy to understand why owner and chef Autumn Maxwell is so excited about the spring and summer session. Her creative cold treats include ice cream flavours such as Brown Sugar with Roasted Almond; Herbal Chai Tea with Clove, as well as her popular Ice Cream Sandwiches made from Macarons and creamy iced fillings such as Japanese Picked Plum and Cranberry Sorbet.  The macarons are gluten free, and for those of you who can’t handle the dairy, Maxwell also offers a variety of coconut based cold treats.



Fry’s Bakery

Byron Fry, owner and baker for Fry's Bakery with a fresh loaf of his German-style bread

If you’ve been to the VDPM before, then you’ve seen the impressive line-up that forms at Fry’s Bakery from the moment the market is open for business. Often running in with hot loaves after the line is already well underway, owner and baker Byron Fry is as unique as he is talented with stunning behemoth loaves of German-style breads that could truly feed a family for a week. Byron’s Great Great Grandfather ran Victoria’s original Fry’s Bakery in the 1920’s, and Byron plans on continuing the family legacy by opening his own bakery across from the original Craigflower location this summer.


Phone: (250) 889-5455



Of course these are just five of the many talented VDPM vendors whose excitement grows as they near the April 4 spring/summer market date. But even more exciting for Carmack and others is the prospect of extending the capacity for local farmers and producers through their general goal of building a permanent downtown public market. “It’s all about increasing local food access and security” Carmack concludes, “and escalating the vibrancy in downtown for both tourists and residents alike.”



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