By Mike Butler
I have a hard time saying no when asked to be part of a project, be it theatre, fashion shows, or fundraiser events. I love helping and being part of the community in all forms because I get to meet some pretty fascinating people along the way.
The Valley Regional Hospital Foundation recently asked me to host some online cooking tutorials as part of their Harvest for Health fundraiser. Myself, a sous-chef (an employee of the Valley Regional Hospital), and a celebrity chef spent a few hours creating a culinary masterpiece with a prominent Valley fruit or vegetable (squash, onion, plum, apple). Could my job have been easier? I got to spend time with some of the nicest, most talented chefs in the business, and we have them ALL at our disposal in Nova Scotia. I learned some tricks of the trade, ate some glorious cuisine, and made some terrific contacts. One of these chefs was Peter Dewar. I got to chat with Peter about his interests, his family, and his recipe for success.
Peter grew up in Riverview, New Brunswick and spent his summers in PEI at the family farm eating his grandmother’s oatmeal. Peter trained at The Culinary Institute of Canada, PEI and did his two-year apprenticeship in Bern, Switzerland.
Peter returned home to Canada and peppered our country with his incredible cooking skills. Peter was first cook at the CP Hotel Beausejour in Moncton, then chef de partie at the Prince George Hotel in Halifax. He then ventured to the west coast and took the position of sous chef at Val d’Isère in Whistler, BC, where his passion for skiing came out. Soon Peter discovered he cooked just as well on the slopes as he did in the kitchen and for a number of years, Peter worked winters in Whistler doing ski sales and event management. But summers in Digby, Nova Scotia found him as executive sous chef at The Pines Resort and Spa.
Then, in 2003 Peter accepted a position as Culinary Arts Chef Instructor at Nova Scotia Community College (NSCC) in Kentville. “I teach culinary management and I also do product development for local and national companies,” says Peter. “Pure Infused Maple from Hutchinson Acress is one of the product lines that I am very proud of. I am very excited to have a new kitchen at Kingstec. I was given the chance to design a world-class teaching kitchen and myself and the students are so happy to have started cooking in the space this fall. In our new state-of-the-art kitchen at NSCC, I am in my glory having the freedom to teach and create with students.” I have been in this kitchen folks, and it’s a chefs dream come true!
Besides cooking in the kitchen with his grandmother, Peter celebrates his start in the kitchen in a very funny way: “A car accident got me started in the kitchen,” he says. “I was delivering pizzas when I was 16 and rear ended someone because I was waving at my mom. The next day I was given an apron and sink, and I lost my keys to the pizza car that day.”
And where did that experience take Peter? Well, here’s a little list of how talented he is: In 2007 and 2008, Peter was the top chef at the prestigious International PEI Shellfish Chef Challenge, and in 2010, he won the CATCH seafood competition in Halifax. He’s a member of the Canadian Culinary Federation, and he represented the Atlantic Region at the 2008 CCFCC National Chefs Challenge in Montreal, where he won first place. Peter coaches the Junior Team Nova Scotia and Team Kingstec NSCC, both of which have won numerous provincial and Atlantic hot salon titles. In recognition of his contributions, Peter received the President’s Citation Award from the Nova Scotia Association of Chefs and Cooks in 2009 and was named their Culinarian of the Year in 2009. Just to name a few accomplishments!
And when he’s not knee deep in sauce and pastry, Peter takes to his bike. He “Cycling pretty much year-round is my go to,” he says. “Recently I just got back into mountain biking and even did a few races this year. Both my sons, who are 4 and 7, also ride a lot, we have VIP parking at the Gorge. Gardening is something I love, I collect ornamental grass and hostas. My front lawn is my pride and joy, if it doesn’t look like a golf course I am not happy! As far as relaxing goes, good coffee (a tepid TAN latte!) and a long bike ride are the musts. I feel tranquillity is always my goal. I also hangout/help/work at Bank’s Bike Shop in the summer. I love being around people that are passionate about cycling.”
Peter has lived all around the world and feels very fortunate to live in the Valley. The cycling is great ,but as a chef he finds the food we produce to be second to none and a chef’s dream to cook using the ingredients from our area. Peter’s dish for the cooking show through the Valley Regional Hospital involved plums! You can visit the Valley Regional Hospital Foundations website to get the link to Peter’s segment. It’s well worth it.
The future looks bright for Peter. There’s always an interest in food, wine, and all things buttery here in the Valley, but the most important thing, along with his partner Janet, is to raise their two happy boys that love the Valley and all it has to offer. You can follow Peter @chefpeterdewar. Many thanks and happy kitchen creations!