Mayor's Arts Award for Culinary Arts

Profile image of Mary Mackay and Leah Patitucci

2017 recipients

Mary Mackay


Mary Mackay is co-owner of Terra Breads, where she serves as Director of Product Innovation and Quality Assurance. Terra Breads is a Vancouver based award-winning bakery specializing in sourdough breads made with wild yeast achieved through a long fermentation process.

Mackay trained at Dubrulle French Culinary School. She has hosted bread-making videos and contributed to many local Vancouver cookbooks. Since 1999, she has been a member of Les Dames d’Escoffier, an organization of women culinary professionals who raise funds for scholarships for women in the culinary industry.

As a past board member of Vancouver’s Chefs' Table Society, Mackay supported initiatives and sustainable programs that inspired and educated local chefs and producers. Mackay has been working in the restaurant and baking industry for 33 years and at Terra Breads for 24 years. She continues to focus on her passion for baking and fermentation in Vancouver.

Leah Patitucci

Emerging artist

Leah Patitucci is a 20-year-old cook/pastry cook currently working at the renowned Pear Tree Restaurant under Chef Scott Jaeger. Since entering the culinary world in late 2012, Patitucci has completed her cook training at Vancouver Community College, earning her Red Seal Certification. Patitucci has also studied baking and pastry arts.

Patitucci has cooked at some of Vancouver’s top restaurants such as Hawksworth and Blackbird Bistro. She also spent two years at Temper Chocolate and Pastry, rising to the role of head baker. In 2016, Patitucci traveled to Germany with Culinary Team Canada as a pastry support member for the International Culinary Olympics. She also won the title of 2016 Vancouver Community College Student of the Year.

Past recipients

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Meeru Dhalwala


Meeru Dhalwala has cooked and run the kitchens at Vij’s and Rangoli restaurants since 1995. Meeru works closely with her all-female kitchen staff – all of whom hail from villages in the Punjab, India – to experiment with recipes at the two restaurants. Meeru also penned the two award-winning Vij’s cookbooks: Vij’s – Elegant and Inspired Indian Cuisine, and Vij’s at Home: Relax, Honey. The third cookbook, Vij’s Indian: Our Stories, Spices and Cherished Recipes, is to be released in October 2016.

Meeru focuses on forging relationships with local businesses, particularly farmers. She sits on the board of directors for Vancouver Farmers Markets. Meeru also works closely with staff at UBC Land and Food Systems and with UBC Farm on various fundraising initiatives, including “Joy of Feeding,” which features home cooks of various ethnic backgrounds and professions showcasing their family favourite comfort foods, often sourced locally and/or organically.

Arka Lwin

Emerging artist

Arka Lwin is a firm believer in supporting local food systems and sustainability as a catalyst for positive change. As a graduate of the Environmental Studies program at Carleton University, Arka wanted to live a lifestyle closer to the change he wanted to see. After consideration, he decided to support sustainable agriculture and his love of food by becoming a farmer. Along this journey, he and an experienced farm-to-table cooking chef came up with the idea of a farm-to-table food truck.

Their vision showcases BC’s best ingredients within a fine seasonal dining experience but through a casual food truck platform – holding a high standard of dining and placing the most importance on the fresh ingredients.

Alice Spurrell


Alice Spurrell was always an outstanding home chef, and waited until her four children were grown before relocating to London and Paris for six months to attend the Cordon Bleu cooking schools.

When she returned to Vancouver, she and her daughter Allison opened their boutique catering company The Menu Setters in 1986. One of their specialties was catering wine tastings, and they started importing specialty cheeses to compensate for the lacklustre selection available locally.

Alice and Allison moved away from catering when they opened Les Amis du Fromage, a retail mecca that made an extensive selection of fine cheeses available to the public. Les Amis proved to be a catalyst in the gourmet food revolution in Vancouver, and its two locations are destination shopping experiences for Lower Mainland food lovers.

Alice has been a leader in the local food and wine community for decades, and she loves any opportunity to share her passions with professionals and fellow food lovers alike.

Jennifer Peters

Emerging artist

Jennifer Peters honed her skills as a protégé of Chef Bruno Marti, the beloved godfather of fine dining cuisine in Canada. With Chef Marti’s guidance, Jen developed an uncompromising dedication to high-quality food ingredients.

She then worked and trained in Michelin-starred restaurants in England and on returning home, she worked at Diva at the Met at the Waterfront Hotel before becoming sous chef at the Pear Tree Restaurant.

She was the chef at Raincity Grill and taught at the Dirty Apron Cooking School.

Jen and partner Chef Hamid Salimian have now started their own company called Nextjen Gluten-Free.

John van der Lieck


John van der Lieck, 2014 Mayor's Arts Award for Culinary Arts honoreeJohn van der Lieck is a fifth generation charcuterie craftsman of German and Dutch heritage with an international passion for gastronomy.

Since the age of 14, John has worked with meat, first during school holidays and later as an apprentice, journeyman, and master. At 17, he spent a year in Malaysia with a Muslim family, and his food universe began to expand. He later worked in Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, Belgium, and France.

He opened the Oyama Sausage Co. at Vancouver’s Granville Island Public Market in 2001.

A Vancouverite for 26 years, John feels blessed to have met and worked with people from so many places, sharing their ideas about food.

His enthusiasm is evident in his quest for ingredients. His partnerships with farmers and suppliers ensure that the cream of the crop is always delivered to Oyama. He is constantly experimenting with fusions between traditional and international charcuterie in an effort to delight palates and develop Vancouver’s own unique gastronomic culture. 

Roger Ma

Emerging artist

Roger Ma, 2014 Mayor's Arts Award for Culinary Arts emerging artistRoger Ma was born and raised in Vancouver and grew up surrounded by avid home cooks. Family gatherings centred around home-cooked meals. His culinary philosophy is derived from his Asian heritage and his New York experience, and focuses on seasonal ingredients.

In 2004, he attended the Art Institute of Vancouver – Dubrulle School of Culinary Arts. After culinary school, Roger moved to Whistler as part of the opening team of Fifty Two 80, the restaurant at the Four Seasons hotel. He then moved to New York and worked as a sous chef at Daniel Boulud’s flagship restaurant Daniel. In New York, he won the 2011 JRO Umami Recipe Challenge. Roger has also assisted Boulud in opening Maison Boulud at the Ritz Carlton in Montreal and Café Boulud at the Four Seasons in Toronto.

He was part of the opening team of Boulevard restaurant at Vancouver’s Sutton Place Hotel and is currently the restaurant’s chef de cuisine.

Eric Pateman


Culinary Arts 2013 Honoree Eric PatemanEric Pateman has grown his company from a one-man culinary concierge service into one of the leading ambassadors of Canadian cuisine and a storyteller for hundreds of small companies.

Beginning his company as Edible Vancouver in 2006, Pateman soon expanded to Edible British Columbia (EBC) with a culinary artisan retail store on Granville Island, then to Edible Canada in 2010.

A Vancouver native, Pateman has worked in the hospitality industry for over two decades as a chef, hotel consultant, and entrepreneur, and has had the opportunity to rate restaurants for the Mobil Travel Guide. He is regularly sought as an expert on Canadian food and wine for research projects, cooking demonstrations, and speaking engagements.

He is the co-author of the BC Seasonal Cookbook. He was named one of Business in Vancouver's Top 40 Under 40 Business People in 2007 and was on Western Living magazine's list of the Top 40 Foodies Under 40 in Western Canada in 2008.

Jackie Kai Ellis

Emerging artist

Culinary Arts 2013 Emerging Artist Jackie Kai EllisJackie Kai Ellis has loved baking since she was a little girl, teaching herself from books she borrowed from the library. After pursuing her love of baking by studying at Paris’ École Gastronomique Bellouet Conseil, Ellis opened Vancouver’s Beaucoup Bakery, combining her love of the comforting North American baking she grew up with and the delicate art of French pastry-making.

Ellis has been named one of Western Living magazine’s Top Foodies Under 40, and her croissants were cited as the city’s best in Vancouver magazine. She has been featured in newspapers and publications across Canada and is a regular guest on CTV’s Morning Live news show, sharing her approachable attitude to baking and desserts and highlighting the best that Vancouver’s culinary scene offers.

Robert Clark


2012 Honouree Artist Robert ClarkRobert Clark is C Restaurant's executive chef and head of culinary operations for C Restaurant, Raincity Grill, and NU Restaurant, and Lounge. Clark began his culinary training at Ontario's George Brown College, graduating in 1982. Throughout his career he has trained with Canada's top chefs such as Jamie Kennedy, Michael Bonaccini, and Mark Thuet.

Only quality, sustainable products from earth and sea are used as the building blocks of his cuisine. Clark's belief in food is pure and simple: “As chefs, our job is not only about serving great tasting food, but encouraging our staff and our guests to learn how to get sustainably produced food to the table.”

Merri Schwartz

Emerging artist

2012 Emerging Artist Merri Schwartz, photo by Heather GoldsworthyMerri Schwartz credits her childhood with awakening her interest in baking. Raised by back-to-the-land hippies, she didn’t buy her first bag of granulated sugar until the age of 18. She learned in a kitchen filled with carob, honey, and whole wheat flour that everything could and should be homemade.

A whirlwind pastry career later, Schwartz has been lucky enough to serve as pastry chef at some of BC’s best restaurants, including King Pacific Lodge, C Restaurant, Quattro on Fourth, Raincity Grill, The Granville Island Hotel, and Cocoa West Organic Chocolatier, as well as training at the Valrhona Chocolate Institute outside of Lyon, France.

The same passion for food and agriculture led Schwartz to found Growing Chefs! Chefs for Children’s Urban Agriculture in 2005. This Vancouver-based, non-profit organization pairs chef volunteers with elementary school classrooms, where the chefs help the students plant, grow, and cook their own vegetables.

Schwartz founded Growing Chefs! with the hope that sustainable practices will become integral to living and cooking in Vancouver, and in cities like it all over the world. After acting as the executive director of Growing Chefs! for four and a half years, Schwartz joined the board of directors as the chair in 2010.

The 2012 peer jury was Robert Le Crom, Frank Pabst, and Annabelle Leslie.

Annabelle Leslie


2011 Culinary Arts Honouree Annabelle LeslieAnnabelle Leslie was exposed to a variety of culturally diverse cuisines while growing up in Montréal, but it wasn't until she moved to the Caribbean that she tapped into her love of the culinary craft. An avid, ocean-going sailor, Annabelle was able to combine her love of boats with her passion for food while she worked with an eclectic group of French chefs aboard some of the region's most luxurious corporate yachts.

After almost five years of sailing through the Caribbean and South West Indies, Annabelle decided to pursue another love – skiing. Naturally, her next stop was Whistler, where she cooked in several award-winning, fine-dining establishments.

Launching Cardero's Restaurant in Coal Harbour in 1997 as the executive chef, Annabelle cultivated Cardero's status into becoming a renowned, award-winning restaurant. After 13 years at Cardero's, she has become the exectuive chef at the Teahouse Restaurant in Stanley Park.

Erik Heck

Emerging artist

2011 Culinary Arts Emerging Artist Erik HeckErik Heck started his kitchen career as many others do, at home under the support and supervision of his parents, who shared their passion for using as many local and organic ingredients as possible.

Upon graduating from high school, Erik took a job as a dishwasher at Earls in North Vancouver, before taking a stint as sous chef at Joe Fortes, executive sous chef at Glowbal Grill and The Italian Kitchen, and then back to Glowbal Grill as the executive chef.

After two years at Glowbal Grill, Eri made the decision to partner with John Crook to open up their first venture, The Flying Pig, and the dream became reality.

The 2011 peer jury was Michel Jacob, Robert Lecrom, Bruno Marti, and Frank Pabst.

Frank Pabst


2010 Honouree Artist Frank PabstFrank Pabst is one of Canada’s most accomplished chefs, whose disciplined technique – learned in some of Europe’s finest kitchens – is matched to the West Coast’s extraordinary catch of seafood.

He is widely recognized for his creative impetus and leadership in responsible seafood practices, and currently leads Blue Water Cafe’s brigade of expert chefs as executive chef.

He holds tenures in Michelin-starred restaurants throughout Germany and France, including La Becasse (Aachen), the Hotel Negresco (Cannes), and Restaurant de Bacon (Antibes).

Frank has also received acclamation as Chef of the Year from the Vancouver Magazine Restaurant Awards and The Georgia Straight’s Golden Plate Awards.

Culinary Youth Team Canada

Emerging artists

2010 Emerging Artists Culinary Youth Team CanadaEvery four years, the German Chefs’ Association hosts the world’s largest culinary competition, the World Culinary Olympics.

Earlier this year, a competition was held in Windsor, Ontario, to determine which of Canada’s premier cooking schools would be given the honour of representing Canada in the junior competition at the 2012 Olympiad. When the “smoke” cleared, a team of Vancouver Community College students and their instructors had captured the title of Culinary Youth Team Canada.

In June, members of the team joined their counterparts from six other countries from around the world at the Aregala 2010 conference in San Jose, Costa Rica, taking a first place finish. The team will travel to Dublin in February to introduce the young competitors to the realm of international culinary competition.

There being no junior competition at this event, these daring young cooks and their coaches have decided to push their abilities to the limit and will be representing Canada in the senior category, challenging teams of top chefs from around the globe.

The Culinary Youth Team Canada consists of: team manager and coach John Carlo Felicella, assistant coach Settimio Sicoli, and team members Johnny Ho, Jasper Cruikshank, Arielle Schwab, Jil Aranas, Tyson Gee, Daniel Davyduke, Sandy Chen, and Santiago Cuyugan.

The 2010 peer jury was Michel Jacob, Robert Le Crom, and Bruno Marti.

Hidekazu Tojo


2009 Honouree Artist Hidekazu TojoHidekazu Tojo has played a seminal role in the diffusion of Japanese food in Vancouver since arriving in the city in 1971. He is creator of such dishes as the California roll, BC roll, dynamite roll, and rainbow roll, which have now become standard fare in sushi restaurants throughout North America.

Since opening his Tojo’s in 1988, he has received countless awards and recognitions, including Vancouver Magazine’s Best Japanese restaurant award each year since opening. He is an inductee to the BC Restaurant Hall of Fame and has been listed in the NY Times best seller 1000 Places to See Before You Die.

He has served celebrities and dignitaries from around the world, including the soccer icon David Beckham and the Emperor and Empress of Japan. Tojo’s continued commitment to locally available ingredients, caught or grown sustainably, has elevated the region’s culinary culture to a new height.

Hiroki Watanabe

Emerging artist

2009 Emerging Artist Hiroki WatanabeHiroki Watanabe has worked in Canada as a sushi chef since his arrival in this country in 2003, following training at the traditional Japanese "ryotei" or fine-dining restaurant Nadaman in Nagoya, Japan. He was a 2008 Vancouver Magazine "Premiere Crew" nominee.

The 2009 peer jury was Michel Jacob, Bruno Marti, and Barbara-Jo McIntosh.

Robert Le Crom


Executive chef at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver since 1989, Mr Le Crom oversees the culinary operation of Griffins Restaurant, 900 West Lounge, and in-room dining and banquets for the Fairmont.

Born and raised in Brittany, France, he studied at the Tours Hotel School in the Loire Valley and began cooking in 1962, honing his skills while working in France, England, Spain, and Japan.

In 1990, he introduced the Fairmont culinary apprentice program, offering on-the-job training in the Fairmont kitchens.

He has been selected, along with two other Vancouver chefs, to attend the 2008 Beijing Olympic Summer Games as an official member of the Canadian Olympic Team.

The 2008 peer jury was Amir Ali Alibhai, Greg Bellerby, Barbara Cole, David Dove, Arthur Erikson, Gathie Falk, Anne Marie Fleming, Susan Gordon, Michel Jacob, Bruno Marti, Terry McEvoy, Laurie McGauley, Barbara-Jo McIntosh, John McLachlan, George McWhirter, Eric Metcalfe, Jonathan Middleton, Melanie O’Brian, Stephen Osborne, Christina Ritchie, Jim Sinclair, Trudy Van Dop, Lorenz von Ferson, and Hal Wake.