Shane Chartrand, executive chef, Sage

ShaneChartrand02We love his humour, his candour and energy and point of view, his professional skills in the kitchen, his joy. Shane Chartrand has podiumed at Gold Medal Plates and he’s inspired cooks to hone their skills and use their imaginations. After stints at several Edmonton restaurants (tellingly, he leaves them in better shape than when he arrived, the mark of a true professional) Shane is back at Sage where he apprenticed several years ago. He is crafting a truly indigenous menu from wild and farmed ingredients inspired by his heritage.


Penhold, Alberta

Years cooking?

At least 20.

Where would you like to live?

Anywhere in the mountains is a dream for me — mountains close to a big city.

Your favourite food and drink?

Right now? Petit Syrah to drink, and the food that inspires me is creative, awesome and interesting.

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

Visual art, painting.

What do you most appreciate in your friends?

My friends are always there for me. We pick up the same conversation no matter how long it’s been.

Your favourite qualities in a dish?


A cook?

Somebody who is excited and willing to listen; someone willing to put some time into it, do some research. Read.

A wine?

Structure for sure, flavour, it doesn’t have to be old.

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

My parents, chefs Ferran Adria, Joel Robuchon, and Aaron Bear Robe. My friends.

Who would cook?

My friends, my apprentices, people I have cooked with.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

Oh my goodness, awesome.

Current culinary obsession/exploration?

I’m studying a couple of restaurants. One is New York’s 11 Madison Park. I’m trying to understand how they did things differently — their call system, their kitchen brigade, everything. Another is the Keriwa Café* in Toronto. It’s run by Aaron Bear Robe, an aboriginal guy from Calgary. I don’t know any other aboriginal chef who has done as well as he has.

Meaningful/crazy cooking experience?

The most meaning culinary experience I’ve had has to be last year; we killed and broke down an entire buffalo in the middle of sacred ground on the Beaver Lake Cree Nation, near Lac la Biche. Then I drove back up and cooked a buffalo feast at the school.

Best (cooking) thing that ever happened to you?

Here’s an example. I’ve cooked for Keith Urban and other celebrities, but the best was doing a cooking class for the CNIB. I had to teach nine blind people how to cook a dinner. I taught them how to make paella. I had to set the table up so everyone’s salt was to the left; the mise en place all exactly the same. I started to clean and cut the onions and peppers, and the students said; “Don’t do that. We can prepare our own onions and peppers.”

They were so resourceful and fun.


My Dad is a massive mentor to me. He taught me how to hunt and fish, we went to the mountains on a survival trip when I was 16 years old, he helped me get through school. There’s people I look up to and perhaps some people I’m a bit jealous of, their skills with wine and food, but there’s no other mentor but my Dad.

Favourite casual cheap and cheerful/afterwork food?

Easy stuff to make, like spaghetti, pretty much always at home as no place is open at the end of the shift. I like going for sushi, feels good, healthy.


I tell my guys all the time: work hard. I don’t mean blood sweat and tears. I mean think, use your imagination in how you operate in the kitchen, in life and about what goes on the plate. I try to hire the chemistry and the imagination.

What’s next?

At Sage we are creating a progressive indigneous menu using influences from Plains Cree, Mountain Cree, Huron and the Iroquois; and ingredients from right across the country; mushrooms, whitefish, perch, sardines, sweet grass braids, squash blossoms, spearmint, hay, lavender, cattail, honey, rutabaga, popcorn, hemp seeds. I’ve always wanted to do an indigenous menu. It’s just as exciting as anything can be.