Introducing: Executive Chef Steven Wilker
This fall, we officially welcomed Steven Wilker as our new Executive Chef in the Restaurant at Lougheed House. We didn’t have to look far – Steven is the son of Les Wilker, our former exec chef, and brother to Tasha, who has been managing the restaurant as well as the family’s other business, A Certain Flair catering.
Steven has just introduced his first new menus in the restaurant, so we asked him to tell us about himself.
How and where did you learn to cook?
My dad is an amazing chef, so I grew up in a kitchen and had the opportunity to help him at work. I fell in love with cooking as a child, and then in my teens and young 20’s I worked in a few different restaurants as a line cook.
Cooking became my full-time gig and passion when I started with A Certain Flair as sous chef. Every day catering can bring a new type of cuisine, so I was able to really have fun with new recipes and get creative developing my own.
What was your approach to developing new menus for the restaurant?
For dinner, we wanted a modern approach to a traditionally classic menu. The goal was to create a chef-driven, beautifully executed menu but with simplicity in mind to work with the limited space available in the kitchen here, very much a “quality over quantity” approach. It was also important to us to create a high-end menu that still had a fun home-cooked feel and could be enjoyed by everyone.
Our brunch and lunch menus were designed with a more casual style in mind. The Lougheed House itself is known as a beautiful “destination” location, but we also want to become known in the Beltline community and the surrounding downtown core as simply a restaurant as well, a favourite local brunch spot or a casual and relaxing lunch stop.
What is one challenge of doing the kind of work you do in a historic home?
The biggest challenge is the very small kitchen space. It forces you to be hyper organized, using every square inch with a purpose.
If someone else is doing the cooking, what do you like to eat?
If someone cooks for me, I will eat whatever. I love tasting other people’s cooking, because their style could be completely different from how I would envision a dish and that can be very inspiring.
The Restaurant at Lougheed House is open Thursday to Sunday through Christmas, with a seasonal closure in late December.
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I would love to eat again at the Lougheed House Restaurant, but since the change in chefs, the lunch menu no longer has much for those who need to be gluten-free. No, salad does not count, especially in winter. I am glad to see that GF Eggs Benedict is a weekend brunch option; too bad it is not on the regular lunch menu, too. I used to enjoy going to the Lougheed House, knowing there were some safe choices for me that were simple and hearty. Perhaps the restaurant could give more thought to former supporters who need gluten-free meals.