But before we answer ‘what,’ first we must answer why? How did Downey get to this place of wanting to define Canadian food? It has been a journey worth sharing.
He grew up loving food.
“I wanted to eat anything I’d never had before,” said Downey. “It drove my family nuts sometimes because I wanted to read the whole menu. Kids menus never interested me.”
But he didn’t grow up with a passion for cooking or spend much time in the kitchen.
It was out of desperation while he was in business school in Vancouver that he ended up in a commercial kitchen. He needed money, and a restaurant needed a dishwasher for a day, but when he showed up the fry cook wasn’t there, so he was instantly promoted.
“There was a connection immediately,” remembers Downey. “I really enjoyed the teamwork, the aspect of working towards one goal.”
He ended up quitting business school to work at that restaurant. Then New York came calling, and he attended the Culinary Institute of New York in Hyde Park about 90 minutes North of Manhattan.
“That changed my world and opened my eyes.”