Chefs of the West: Simon Smotkowicz, Executive Chef, Shaw Conference Centre, Edmonton

Growing up in Toulouse, France, Simon Smotkowicz discovered at an early age that food is something best enjoyed in the company of good friends and a loving family. Today, Smotkowicz infuses a little of that joie de vivre into every banquet event he helps orchestrate as Executive Chef of Edmonton’s Shaw Conference Centre.

Simon Smotkowicz, Executive Chef, Shaw Conference Centre, Edmonton

“Food was always an important part of our culture,” says the amiable culinarian. “Much of my influence came from my mother and grandmother who took extra care with whatever they were preparing for the family dinner. My appreciation of food is a result of being exposed at a young age to really good cuisine and the terroir of where we lived.”

After graduating from the Toulouse Hotel School in 1968, Smotkowicz worked in the industry for several years, including running his own restaurant. Then, while on vacation in Canada in 1975, he learned that a cousin in Edmonton needed a chef for a new performing arts centre. That touched off a Canadian culinary career lasting over 36 years, including more than 15 years at the Shaw.

“What I’ve tried to do over the years is to put the same amount of attention towards a large banquet meal for 1,000 people as to a small, intimate dinner for 10. Paying attention to detail, making sure you do things right and that you don’t take shortcuts – I think that has been responsible for our success here at the Shaw.”

As Business Manager of Canada’s National Culinary Team, Smotkowicz is a veteran of dozens of international competitions and recipient of the Canadian Culinary Federation’s National Chef of the Year honours in 1998. Although international competition has been a long-standing interest, Smotkowicz says it is the variety of his work at the Shaw that has kept the fires burning all of these years.

“It’s different every day. Most of our menu ends up being customized because everybody wants something just a little different. It’s a new challenge every day – that’s what keeps us going.”

Venue & Supplier Profiles