The September Proust Culinary Questionnaire: Will Kotowicz, Glendon Tan and Peter Keith

Meet the guys behind Meuwly’s and the Secret Meat Club: Will Kotowicz, Glendon Tan and Peter Keith.

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 himself in a friend’s Confession Album.

Proust’s answers have been published, in one form or another, for more than a century. Many have used the questionnaire for their own devices, the most notable being Vanity Fair’s Proust Questionnaire featuring celebrities. The Tomato gives it a culinary twist.

This summer, Peter Keith, Glendon Tan and Will Kotowicz opened Meuwly’s, offering smoked meats, sausages, salami, pâté and preserves, all made in their glass-walled production kitchen. You can pop in for a sandwich or pick up the makings for a charcuterie board. Making charcuterie, especially the way they do it, with locally raised pork and beef and using old-world artisan techniques (aka time and salt) is not for the faint of heart. Peter and Will are both highly-trained chefs, while Glendon contributes a business mind and construction experience to the mix. Will also brings several years of experience in the art of fermentation. They also are the brains behind the Secret Meat Club, their monthly subscription service. What is really special, besides the quality of their offerings, is their openness, their willingness to try new things and their commitment to community. Meuwly’s 10706 124 Street #101, 587-786-3560,

Will Kotowicz, Glendon Tan, Peter Keith Image by Rasmussen
Will Kotowicz, Glendon Tan, Peter Keith of Meuwly’s
Image by Gerry Rasmussen

Glendon: “Edmonton.”
Peter: “St. Albert.”
Will: “Cold Lake.”

Years cooking?
Peter: “18.”
Will: “13.”

Where would you like to live?
Glendon: “Edmonton is pretty significant to me because of the ability to make my mark. There are opportunities here. Especially, in the food realm, we have a lot of land that is underutilized for food.”

Peter: “Vancouver Island. I grew up spending summers there, I like the lifestyle, it’s relaxing and there’s a cool sense of community.”
Will: “Somewhere rural. When I was a kid, I would chop down trees and build forts.”

Your favourite food and drink?
Glendon: “Upson’s Rose Lemonade with mango, orange juice, sparkling water and my mom’s ginger sesame garlic chicken.”

Peter: “Maisel’s Weisse beer and spicy peanut satay.”

Will: “A nice mineral-y bubbly with seafood.”

What would you be doing if you weren’t cooking?
Glendon: “Property and business development. Food businesses will become more and more important here in the next 50 years.”

Peter: “I’d be in politics. In high school, I was voted most likely to be prime minister. Food plays such a big role in our society and there are some serious problems in the food system.”

Will: “A mechanic or carpenter. Something with my hands and problem-solving.”

What do you most appreciate in your friends?
Glendon: “I appreciate integrity and trustworthiness. In my partners, how hardworking they are.”

Peter: “Compassion and thinking of others, even if we don’t share the same views, that’s important to me. The ability to pick up where we left off. With my partners, I admire their drive and how they bring that out in me. It’s how we push each other.”

Will: “Honesty, being genuine, humility, not a super ego, just being themselves. This whole process has been crazy and Glendon’s experience with the city and contractors has been immeasurable. The perspective of asking more questions and finding out more.”

Peter: “It’s like a marriage. Literally, you spend your entire 14-hour work day together.”

Your favourite qualities in a dish?
Glendon: “Clean flavours, evolves well, balance. And is the food quality high enough?”

Peter: “My approach has changed a lot after working at Chambar in Vancouver, putting things together that you would never think of. Being assertive with spices and thinking about the flavour profile, not the ingredients.”

Will: “I really appreciate things that appear to be simple, but there is actually a lot of detail that makes up the balance. For example—in our Italian sandwich, the salami cotto is heavily peppered, so we season just with salt.”

A cook or employee?
Glendon: “Initiative. Trying to improve your knowledge and your condition and other’s conditions. Service.”

Peter: “You have to want to please people. Why are you making a dish? If you don’t love making people happy, you will burn out. No ego disguised as passion.”

Will: “I appreciate work ethic, a genuine want and need to learn. I find that attractive; I relate to that.”

Who would be at your dream dinner table
Glendon: “Dinner with my fiancé, Lauren.”

Peter: “A room full of strangers from around the world; everyone cooks one course!”

Will: “Anthony Bourdain. And my Grandpa, he would get a kick out of Bourdain.”

Who would cook?
Glendon: “Peter and Will.”

Peter: “The best meals are when everybody does a dish.”

Will: “Will Horowitz.” (From NYC’s Ducks Eatery)

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
Glendon: “Worst case scenario.”

Peter: “Ultimately. At the end of the day.”

Will: “Basically. It depends.”

Current culinary obsession/exploration?
Glendon: “Sausages and the different ways of cooking them. I could have sausages a lot. Or, fried rice.”

Peter: “The onion family. Onion, garlic, shallots. Handling them in different ways and how it affects them.”

Will: “I’m deeply into food microbiology, looking more into cheese making and how it’s so relative to what we are doing here.”

Meaningful/crazy food experience?
Glendon: “When we lived in Libya there were the freshest oranges, almonds and fish right from the ocean. I didn’t really appreciate it because I was a kid. A few years ago I took a motorcycle trip to California, where we discovered fruit like the fruit in Libya. We jumped a fence for oranges and sat by the side of the road and ate them.”

Peter: “When I was eight, my parents took us out of school. They had saved for 15 years to take the family to Europe in a Volkswagen camper. I remember being in Athens, we just rolled up in our red camper van. We were walking around—imagine, with two hungry kids accustomed to eating at 5:30pm. We found an empty restaurant; we found out later it wasn’t actually open yet; it was too early. The lady starts pulling stuff out of the freezer, saying kids like this or kids like that (or, at least that’s what we thought she was saying). She called her kids in to come help cook. She just wanted to feed us. That idea, of true hospitality, has stayed with me all this time.”

Will: “On a Duchess staff trip to France we stayed in a cottage and cooked every day. One day we bought a Bresse chicken (the famous French AOP chicken Poulet de Bresse). We ate all of it, including all of the organs as pâté. I still remember how delicious it was and the fluorescent yellow fat. On that trip, we rested in the countryside for a week, then ate six meals a day in Paris for a week.”

Best (cooking) thing that ever happened to you?
Glendon: “When I was traveling in South America, I stopped in Lima for three months. One day at the hostel I made a Bolognese sauce. After that everybody always wanted it. That was my thing in Lima, making Bolognese.”

Peter: “In 2012 I went to the Culinary Olympics with the Alberta team, we were all under 21. The national team was all senior chefs, the best from across the country, super talented. What I noticed was that, at the peak of their careers, they were still learning, still going to each other for things. This was a profound idea to me at a crucial time in my career.”

Will: “I interned in Charleston with Craig Deihl. He has an amazing process, along with a love of big bold flavours. I had three days off in five weeks. We’d be cooking and he’d say ‘holy shit, Willy, it’s midnight!’”

Glendon: “I’ve been in school a lot and I found that teachers and professors are not my thing. When I first started in property, I would try and find mentors. I hope I can mentor people.”

Peter: “I wish I could name them all. I won the Alumni award at NAIT and I realized how much my life is attached to that school. My first mentor was Willie White. He taught me what it means to feed people and about consistency. Simon Smotkowicz created the NAIT scholarship program; he’s an ongoing leadership mentor. My high school CTS teacher, Randy Kozak at Paul Kane in St. Albert, he’s an early cooking and life mentor, he came out on our opening night.”

Will: “Craig Deihl and my grandfather, the original BC Tree Fruit guy. We spent our summers there in the orchard; rewired a tractor, learned to swim. Also, Karl Wolsiffer, a German master butcher at the federal plant in Leduc.”

Favourite casual cheap and cheerful/after work food?
Glendon: “Pho. We go to Pho Hoan Pasteur in Kingsway and Pho Tau Bay.”

Peter: “A Vietnamese sandwich. Van Loc on 98 street, the only reason I carry cash.”

Will: “Nachos at home.”

“Eat better food, contribute to your community, be a stakeholder. High quality, accessible food. Transparency. Simple and elegant. We buy the pigs and we make the food right here. Pigs come in, finished food goes out. It’s an old-world approach.”

What’s next?
Glendon: “I’m constantly looking for the next building. There’s a lot of room in Edmonton for food-centric buildings, maybe a commercial kitchen with other food prep businesses. The dream is a farm setting with processors, markets, all of it.”

Peter: “Finding our feet. Not just are we profitable, but are the staff happy, are we providing value? Are we a positive member of the community?

Will: “We really don’t know what the next step is, we’re thinking about taking a few products federal.”