After more than 20 years in British Columbia, and four tours in Europe with Culinary Team B.C., former Whistler Chef Dean Hossack now makes his home at the Overlander Mountain Lodge on the edge of Jasper National Park.
For Dean, the move to Alberta returned him to his cooking roots. Having graduated from SAIT in the mid-90s, the chef lately completed the Certified Chef de Cuisine program—a long-held goal and, until recently, Canada’s highest culinary accreditation— through NAIT.
With experience ranging from resorts, hotels and member clubs in the Okanagan, to Whistler Mountain and the 4 Diamond Nita Lake Lodge in Whistler’s Creekside, Dean brings a farm-to-table approach to his dishes.
Sourcing from Alberta growers is a priority, and already, both Alberta-raised Bison and lamb are on the menu, as well as organic produce from the Robson Valley. (In the past, and perhaps again, Dean has had a habit of taking apprentices to help with the spring planting. It helps, he notes, to develop that career-long appreciation for farmers and the land.)
Asked “Why Overlander?” Dean has an easy answer. “Just look around. It’s busy and energetic but peaceful, and there’s so much to draw on in terms of inspiration. And Alberta grows some of the most amazing food. I couldn’t be happier.” Dean arrived here in May 2019 with his wife, international award-nominated author, Darcie Friesen Hossack.
What made you want to become a chef?
“It was my first day of Culinary school at SAIT. I had arrived thinking of a career in health service kitchens, and the school’s orientation alone opened a whole new world! Gone was my original idea, replaced with an immediate and then lifelong passion for the joy of food. “
Why do you use Alberta ingredients in your kitchen?
“There are so many reasons for everyone to choose local, but in Alberta there is every reason. Here at Overlander, our goal is to serve only Alberta grown products on our menus. We’re not quite there yet, but from the grains in our baking, to the honey in our vinaigrettes, to the meats at the center of our plates, Alberta farmers are the reason for everything we do.”
What is your favourite Alberta ingredient to use?
“My favourite Alberta ingredient is lamb. It’s far too easy for hotels and restaurants to reduce costs by using lamb imported from Australia or New Zealand. Not only is Alberta lamb superior, but it is my belief that Albertans, and those visiting us from elsewhere, want to have the experience of ingredients from right here at home. We have such an abundance on our doorsteps. It would be a shame not to use all we can.”
What dish should guests be sure to try on your menu?
“We have a menu that changes seasonally. Whatever the season, however, we are known for our lamb (which might be braised lamb shank served with organic vegetables and gluten free gnocchi), as well as Stone Peak’s signature Certified Angus Beef Tenderloin.”
What is a favourite kitchen/cooking memory?
“People often ask if I still cook at home, after all the time I spend in the Stone Peak kitchen. I happen to love cooking for family, whether it’s just me and my wife and some schnitzel, or a particularly perfect Thanksgiving dinner I made for her family one year. I think my very favourite cooking memory, though, is a farmers market dinner I made for my brother’s family in New Zealand a few years ago. After time spent in The Shire, there was nothing more perfect than making a meal fit for a family of Hobbits.”
Why do you take part in Alberta on the Plate?
“Being new (again) to Alberta, not only is Alberta on the Plate a wonderful way to meet new producers, it’s our way of promoting all of the grown-in-Alberta food, and bringing that awareness to our guests.”