Sous-chef Paul Dokmanovic Enhancing the appeal of the Banff Centre

Located in one of the choicest natural settings in North America, the Banff Centre School of the Arts and Conference Centre overlooks the resort town and the historic Banff Springs Hotel. This year the centre, born in the depths of the Great Depression in 1933, celebrates its 75th anniversary as a respected cultural and educational institution that has inspired new creative works, transformed careers, and changed lives.

Recently Paul Dokmanovic, chef of the newly opened Three Ravens Restaurant & Wine Bar added new prestige to this renowned cultural institution. The Centre’s first venture into a la carte dining was enhanced by Chef Dokmanovic who out-cooked his rivals at a competition in January hosted by the International Association of Conference Centres in Toronto. His dish of rosemary lamb chops with chicken and king oyster mushroom-stuffed basil tortellini won the 2008 Canadian Copper Skillet Competition and was largely responsible for the Banff Centre being named the best in Canada.

Chef Dokmanovic was born in Sudbury, Ontario and, due to the family atmosphere from his early years, loved cooking and food. “My mother inspired me to become a chef. She was a great cook and owned her own breakfast and lunch restaurant in Sudbury for some 11 years.”

He began his career at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology in Calgary then moved on to work as apprentice to the Senior Chef de Partie for six years at the luxury Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel. In the ensuing years he worked for one year as sous-chef at Gastof Zur Sonne, Zurich Lake, Switzerland before transferring for a year as a Senior Chef de Partie at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, moving in 2006 to the Banff Centre as Chef at the Three Ravens Restaurant.

In this prestigious eatery he became responsible for implementing the new kitchen operations, and designing menus for the multimillion-dollar dining facilities. Today, besides this primary responsibility, he supervises four different kitchens, and off-sight catering functions and events. As well, he supervises 62 kitchen and stewarding staff members and oversees the preparation of up to 3,600 meals per day.

Chef Dokmanovic is known to be skilled in organizing meals and banquets to order for all types of organizations. “For groups I create and prepare meals according to the group’s price range and type of cuisine the group would like.”

Some of the groups that he has hosted include the BMW car company bringing 450 people together from all over the world; the Canadian Pork Seminar which included a special menu revolving around pork for about 800 people; and large arts festivals for groups of some 1,200.

One of the most recent events Chef Dokmanovic supervised was a seven-course Christmas dinner for the International Group: ‘La Chaîne des Rôtisseurs’ which included a good number of succulent meat dishes of which he is proud.

“I love to work with the local meats of Alberta which include bison, venison, elk, lamb, and, of course, beef,” he says.

To further hone his skills, Chef Dokmanovic is enrolled in the Certified Chef de Cuisine program — the highest level of accreditation for cooks in Canada — at Sait Institute in Calgary.

In March, he will travel to Utah for the International Copper Skillet Competition, where he’ll meet the top chefs of six countries; Denmark, Sweden, Australia, Germany, Great Britain, and the United States.

What makes Chef Dokmanovic‘s career a success is the love for his profession. “I love the fact that I can bring so much pleasure to a person just with my food creations,” he says. “This is what makes my career satisfying.”

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