Chef Rob Feenie, Cactus Restaurants

In the late nineteenth century, French novelist Marcel Proust participated in an exercise which could be thought of as the Facebook of its era — he answered a questionnaire about his personality in a friend’s Confession Album.

Proust’s answers have been published, in one form or fashion, for more than a century. Several have used the questionnaire for their own devices, the most notable being Vanity Fair Magazine’s Proust Questionnaire featuring celebrities. City Palate now gives it a culinary twist.

Meet Rob Feenie, the food concept architect of Cactus Restaurants and Canada’s first Iron Chef.



Years cooking?


Where would you like to live?


Your favourite food and drink?

Japanese — my kids love sashimi — and Italian food.
Alsation wine — those big luscious Pinot Gris, Riesling and Gewürztraminers.

What would you be doing if you weren’t cooking?

Professional golfer.

What do you most appreciate in your friends?

Honesty. They don’t let me get away with anything.

Your favourite qualities in a dish?


A cook?


A wine?

Maturity. I like to drink wines that were made before I was born.

Who would be at your dream dinner table (dead or alive)?

Sting, all members of AC/DC, Bill Clinton, Tiger Woods, my wife.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

Simplicity, and I say ‘sorry’ a lot.

Current culinary obsession/exploration?

What we’re doing at Cactus: producing great items at a great price.

Meaningful/crazy cooking experience?

Playing golf and cooking for Bill Clinton and 40 other people on the same day. The coolest has to be cooking for Sting on a private yacht, then hanging out backstage drinking Champagne with Diana Krall, Elvis Costello, Chantal Kreviazuk and my wife during the concert.

Best (cooking) thing that ever happened to you?

At Charlie Trotter’s in Chicago on the final night of my stage there, I joined 10 chefs, including Norman van Aiken and Emeril Lagasse, for dinner. They changed my entire thinking about food.


I lived in Strasbourg for two weeks and cooked with Alsatian chef Johnnie Letzer (he also taught Michel Jacob of Le Crocodile in Vancouver) and Emile Jung (Au Crocodile, Strasbourg), Michel Jacob and, of course, Charlie Trotter.

Favourite casual cheap and cheerful/after work food?

Cactus. Even before I worked for them.


I’ve seen the good, the bad, the ugly in cooking. I love what I do but I have to have fun. Snotty? Who needs it.

What’s next?

Don’t be surprised if you see a restaurant with my name on it again.