Liana Robberecht

Chef Liana started out on the Professional Cooking Program at NAIT in the early 90s before training in a variety of disciplines across Western Canada, including Pastry Arts at Dubrulle French Culinary School in Vancouver. After leading the culinary team at the private Calgary Petroleum Club for more than a dozen years, Chef Liana brings her farm-to-table philosophy to the three kitchens and staff of 40 she oversees at WinSport’s Canada Olympic Park.

Location: Calgary, Alberta
Position: Executive Chef WinSport, Calgary
Notable Awards/Achievements: Newly appointed member to Women Chefs and Restaurateurs (WCR) Executive Board; Participant in Women of the Wild West 2015, James Beard Foundation Dinner, NYC; Chef of the Year 2011, Alberta Foodservice Expo and Canadian Restaurant & Foodservice Magazine; 2010 Golden Whisk Award, Women Chefs and Restaurateurs.    
Years In The Industry: 25+

What was it like being the first female chef at Calgary Petroleum Club?
Being named the first female chef at what is perceived to be a male-dominant private club was a thrill and an honor -but maintaining the title of executive chef there for over a decade was the real achievement for me.

It’s been 6 months since you made the move to WinSport, how are you settling in?
It’s a different world for sure. I’ve been settling in slowly, taking time to observe, get to know the operation, the people, and the “how-tos”. With the amazing support system provided by WinSport management so much can be achieved. It’s a blank canvas and I see opportunities everywhere, so I’m excited for the future. Jason McKay, the director of the Food & Beverage Operations, is a big picture thinker and has already opened up so many possibilities – for example we’re ordering beehives at the end of February, and plans for an on-site garden are also in the works.

How and when did you become involved with WCR? What kind of impact has it had on your career?
I spotted a Women Chefs & Restaurateurs booth at a big food show in Chicago; curious I walked over and started to ask questions. Liking what I was hearing I then said, “well, I’m Canadian…” and the response was “we love Canadians!”. I have been a member for over ten years and it has been a hugely rewarding experience, both personally and professionally. The resources are invaluable – from personal advice, to tips on techniques from the best chefs in our industry today – all given with no ego or expected favors in return. The association is incredibly valuable to me and has become a huge part of my life.

Which other organizations are you involved with in the food community?
Slow Food Calgary and international gastronomic society, Chaine des Rotisseurs.

How do you channel your aesthetic eye as a painter into your plating techniques?
Art is a large part of who I am and food is another medium I can express myself with. I’m obsessed with food and art – the textures, layers, depth, and colors. Having the ability to think two, and three dimensionally is a gift I never take for granted. I visualize shapes, and positive and negative spaces before I start plating – there’s nothing like that feeling after you finish a concept… step back, take a minute and reflect. I love it.

How would you describe Calgary’s culinary scene? How has it changed over the years?
Calgary’s food scene is on fire. We have incredibly talented chefs, and award winning, internationally recognized multi-cultural restaurant concepts. It’s a small, tight-knit community. Chefs here really collaborate, share ideas, thoughts, advice, and help each other out – it’s one big family. As to how the food scene has changed I would say…. we ain’t all steak and ‘taters!

What is your favorite thing about Canadian food culture?
I love the diversity.

Learn more about Chef Liana Robberecht on her Chef’s Roll profile here, or follow her on Twitter and Facebook.