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Interview: Vegan Chef Lexx Ambrose

By Anna Rybnickova

Credit: Britton Ledingham

When they were 19, Lexx Ambrose decided they wanted to be a chef. They became fascinated by the skills of their roommate who was a cook at a restaurant at that time. Since they were raised in an artist-forward family, they decided to turn creativity into a career. Ambrose became a vegan more than five years ago while they were a sous chef at the mainly meat-based Cactus Club Cafe in Vancouver. For a year, they were struggling to decide why they continued to work in an environment that didn’t align with their values anymore. Eventually, they became a head chef at Zend Conscious Lounge in Vancouver. After taking a leap of faith, they moved to Calgary to help open an entirely vegan brunch spot — The Dandelion in Ramsay. They were lucky to be at the point in their career where they had the ability to specialize in a more niche market such as vegan food. Now, Ambrose is a freelance vegan chef with their own company Plant Plate, catering for retreats and private events, organizing workshops and much more.

What is your favourite vegetarian/vegan place to go to in YYC? Why?

This is such a hard question to narrow down because so many places offer so many different great ideas involving food. However, Raw Eatery and Market in Kensington hits the top of places I’ve been back to the most. When you invest in a meal, you invest in who makes it and I truly believe you can taste intention and love. I have never eaten something from Raw that wasn’t jam-packed full of love, the owners live and breathe that place including choosing to truly care about their business and the people who come in which is huge for me when deciding where I choose to spend my money.

How do you perceive the vegan/vegetarian scene in Calgary? Do businesses respond to this trend and is there enough to choose from?

Calgary is starting to come up for sure, in the past four years alone it’s incredible to see everything that has popped up and what is coming to our city soon — such as a vegan butcher shop called Charcuterie that has taken social media by storm with local excitement. Calgary responds very well to vegan and veg business ventures, I have watched all walks of life embrace the food scene with open arms and come back time and time again. It’s very cool to be a part of that support and watch a city like Calgary become more open. As for is there enough to choose from? Never enough! Calgary is so vast in geography that it would take an entire economy of vegan food to even scratch the surface of our city. Vancouver is half the land size and outnumbers us with vegan food by the hundreds. Every corner you turn you can find something, whereas here we are still in the phase of having to plan destinations in order to eat veg luxury.

What are some of the ways the culinary scene in Calgary could improve in regard to a vegetarian and vegan diet?

Calgary needs more innovation, we have lots of comfort food, which is wonderful, especially since our city is more winter than city and comfort food may be the only thing that keeps people here — kidding of course. But we need places offering experiences that blow people away with culinary skills. Maybe our economy isn’t in a place to sustain that kind of business yet but I have a feeling it will come, I say this with confidence because of future plans I have myself and hopefully others are out there thinking the same thing and are just waiting for the right time to do so.

Where would you recommend getting vegan ingredients that are a bit harder to get in the city?

Most people venturing into the vegan cooking world can actually find anything you would cook within any grocery store you walk into, however for those wanting to challenge themselves to make more elaborate recipes I would say Bulk Barn is a good place to start for things such as vital wheat gluten, nutritional yeast, or egg replacing ingredients such as flax. To achieve tricks like egg taste in food you’ll need to add kala namak black salt to your spice cupboard, it has a very sulphuric taste and smell which adds to the overall and that can be found at The Silk Road Spice Merchant in Inglewood, which I highly recommend everyone check out because it’s a chef’s candy shop. Lastly, I would say Community Natural Foods has a vast selection of other ingredients you won’t find in a typical grocery store.

You are a freelance vegan chef. Where can people see you in action?

To see me in action you’d have to summon me to work with you or for you, I offer meal prep services, private workshops, private chef experiences, retreats, catering, you name it and I probably do it on some level. If you follow me on social media you might catch announcements for pop-up dinners in collaboration with other businesses, but if you’re the type of person who doesn’t like to plan anything and only gets involved in experiences on a whim, we’ll never cross paths because I’m not situated in an open environment that is shared with the general public. So if anyone out there wants to connect, find me online and do so — I’m all about social connections, even if I don’t feed you and you just want to talk food, I’ll be into it.

If you had to eat only one meal for the rest of your life, which one would it be and why?

This is surprisingly easy to answer. Pancakes. And why? Because pancakes have never let me down. I have never had a plate of pancakes and experienced disappointment. So why risk eating one thing forever if I’ve been disappointed by it in the past? Eat smart, eat pancakes.


Interview With David Suzuki

By Brendon Purdy

By Brendon Purdy

Where Edmonton Editor Lindsay Shapka had a chat with David Suzuki about his new book Letters To My Grandchildren, and about what is next for the well-known Canadian. Suzuki will be in Edmonton, at the Metro Cinema on June 27, 2015 for a live talk about this page-turning read.

WHERE (W): It seems like a very personal topic, writing to your grandchildren, but obviously you must have felt that there is a larger message in there, and a larger audience for it. Why did you decide to share these letters with the world?

David Suzuki (DS): It is a very personal book, but it was a very easy book to write compared to my other ones because it was like I was talking to my grandchildren. But, I did write it to appeal to other people. I am really issuing a call to elders to get off the couch and off the golf course and get on with the really important part of their lives, which is passing on the lessons that we have learned. Young people need to hear what we have gone through — our successes and our failures. I do hope young people will read it as well. A lot of my ideas come from my life [experiences], and I am hoping that [the book] will spark ideas in young readers.

W: Are there any important messages that you are hoping readers will take from the book?

DS: I do have some [messages in the book] regarding the First Nations people, as two of my grandchildren are Indigenous people that live on a reserve in Haida Gwaii.
There are a lot of environmental messages as well, which is kind of what people expect from me. But I also pass, on lessons from working with the media — the media creates a persona that you see on TV, but that has nothing to do with who I am.
The two things I didn’t talk about in detail are my foundation which I am very proud of, and my career as a scientist because I have written about both of those things extensively in other books.

W: Speaking to the idea of fame, I know that you are very famous for a lot of things — you have won multiple awards, you have countless honourary degrees — but what is it that you have accomplished that matters most to you?

DS: Well, to me there is only one thing, and that is my children and my grandchildren. My greatest contribution is children who are decent, hardworking and talented human beings who are contributing to society themselves. I am very, very proud of that.

W: When you were the same age as your grandchildren, what did you want to be when you grew up?

DS: I had an insect collection, and I used to run through the fields and search for new bugs. I was particularly keen on beetles and I wanted to be an entomologist. Then, as I got older people started telling me that I would never get a job as an entomologist, so then I wanted to be an Ichthyologist because I loved fishing! But, I fell in love with genetics when I was in college and that just changed everything for me.

W: What’s next for you?

DS: I want to spend more time with my grandchildren, but my wife has told me to stop using the word “retirement”. Right now my health is okay, and I really passionately care about environmental and social issues because of my grandchildren. I will continue to speak out whenever I have the opportunity and try to make any sort of impact.

In the book I tell the story about the hummingbird. It is an old Indigenous story that tells about a forest fire that breaks out and a hummingbird going by sees the fire. He flies over to a pond, gets a beak full of water, flies back to the fire, drops the water on it, and goes back to the pond. The bird is going back and forth with a small beak full of water, and all the other animals of the forest are just laughing and saying, “What are you doing? You’re not going to put the fire out!” And he just looks at them and says, “I’m doing the best I can.”

And that’s all I have ever done and will continue to do — the best I can.


Your Guide to Harry Potter: The Exhibition in Edmonton and Interview with Oliver and James Phelps

It’s finally here! Harry Potter: The Exhibition is showing in Edmonton at the Telus World of Science November 23, 2013 – April 6, 2014. Visit www.telusworldofscience.com for more information including tickets, hours, and location.

Where Edmonton got a sneak preview of the exhibit and a chance to talk with James and Oliver Phelps, who portray Fred and George Weasley in the Harry Potter films. Read on to find out what to expect from this magical attraction!



Interview with Ed Sheeran

By Breanna Mroczek

British singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran is currently on tour with country-pop songstress Taylor Swift as the opening act on her Red tour, with Canadian tour dates in Toronto, Winnipeg, Edmonton, and Vancouver.

Before his second show in Edmonton, Sheeran stopped by local radio station Virgin 104.9 for a fan VIP Experience.

If you’re wondering: “Who is Ed Sheeran?”: After years of independently releasing EPs and singles, Sheeran achieved mainstream success in the UK with his song “The A-Team”  which became the best selling debut single in the UK in 2011. He released his debut album + later that year, and it went quadruple platinum in the UK. Like Swift, Sheeran has received accolades for writing most of his own songs and draws on folk, hip-hop, and pop influences. Hailing from London, he (arguably) garnered attention in North America because of his affiliation with popular boy band One Direction — Sheeran wrote songs for the band, including “Moments” and “Little Things”. Still, Sheeran’s musical style and sound doesn’t compare to that of the aforementioned boyband sensation—his unaided live performances (Sheeran performs only with a loop pedal and guitar, and without a backup band), gripping songwriting, and genre-blending style have earned him attention and praise as a solo artist.

Sheeran’s Edmonton fans eagerly gathered at the Virgin Radio studios, clutching their bright orange copies of Sheeran’s debut album + (pronounced “plus”)to meet Sheeran  and listen to a performance that included acoustic renditions of Lego House, a cover of Macklemore’s Thrift Shop, and The A-Team.

Sheeran was very polite and casual, dressed in a Star Wars T-shirt that showed off his many arm tattoos—including a brand-new one on his right arm that hadn’t even healed yet—and neon blue Nike shoes that he purchased yesterday “at some mall” in Edmonton. No, Sheeran wasn’t oblivious to his presence at the largest mall in North America; when asked if he had been at West Edmonton Mall, he replied “is that the one with the roller coaster? No, not that one. [Taylor Swift’s] dancers went there last night but I didn’t go—the one I went to was small and didn’t have as many stores, but it had a shoe store and… I bought these” he says, gesturing to his shoes. Talking with Sheeran was like having a conversation with a friend—no gimmicks or pretentious, diva-like behaviour.


Comedienne Loni Love Brings the Laughs to Edmonton

Comedienne Loni Love (Chelsea Lately) enjoys a successful career doing what she loves — touring the world and making people laugh — with no signs of stopping anytime soon. Love will be performing at The Comic Strip (West Edmonton Mall, 8882-170 St.) nightly from November 21-25. Tickets are are $18.95-$24.95 and are available online or at the door.

WHERE Edmonton had the pleasure of talking with Love prior to her show in Edmonton, and she was talkative, friendly, and, of course, funny. If the brief chat we had with her is any indication, her full-length performances this week are certain to be hysterical!


Exclusive Interview with Star Trek’s Nichelle Nichols

This weekend (Oct 20 – 21) the Edmonton Comic and Entertainment Expo will give fans the opportunity to meet and listen to some of the most familiar actors from sci-fi/fantasy film and television. One of the guests we are delighted to welcome is the iconic Nichelle Nichols, who is best known for her role in the original Star Trek television series as Lt. Uhura. Her career spans numerous fields, as she has worked as a singer, dancer, producer, writer, and with NASA to recruit the first women and minority astronauts to the space program. WHERE Edmonton recently interviewed the very talented Ms. Nichols, who was completely charming, funny, and absolutely fantastic to talk to:

Nichelle Nichols will be at the Edmonton Comic and Entertainment Expo this weekend, Oct 20-21
Photo courtesy of Mediatonic PR.


Bloc Party Concert and Exclusive Interview

Bloc Party plays at the Edmonton Event Centre on Tuesday, September 25 at 7 pm.
Photo courtesy EMI Music Canada.

Bloc Party – the British indie-rock band, not to be confused with the political party – are in Edmonton on Tuesday, September 25 to play a show at the Edmonton Event Centre in support of their new album, Four.

WHERE Edmonton interviewed Bloc Party bassist Gordon Moakes about their Four tour and upcoming show in Edmonton. Moakes was very pleased to learn of the lovely, warm fall weather Edmonton  is currently experiencing, and says the band is looking forward to touring Canada for a series of shows before heading back to the UK.

The band returned to the music scene earlier this year after a brief hiatus; when the band announced their break in 2009 and most of the band members went to work on various side projects, rumours swirled that Bloc Party had permanently disbanded. This, apparently, was never the case. Moakes suggests that there was never a question of whether or not the band would make another album; rather, the question was about when the band would be able to work most effectively together and  have a good energy to make the sort of fourth record they could be proud of:

“We knew there should be another album . . . it was just about timing,” Moakes tells WHERE. “[The break] was definitely necessary at that time. We just weren’t functioning as a group. We could have made the record but we wouldn’t have enjoyed making it. We would have just been thinking about other things; and with the time off we got to do those things . . . we got to make the sort of music that wouldn’t have been possible with the band. Being able to do that and to have time away was really good. The record we would have made [before the break] would have been disastrous. The time away was good for everyone . . . When making the record we came back as equals and it was an enjoyable experience which led to a much better record”.


Travel Writer and Travel Marketing Specialist Red Hunt

Red Hunt at Killarney Provinicial Park, Ontario.

Travel-marketing guru and writer Red Hunt has worked in the adventure travel industry for the past eight years. He writes and provides marketing services for travel newsletters, brochures, electronic communications and social media. Some of his clients include tour operators Intrepid Travel and Quark Expeditions and industry associations like Hostelling International. He also posts travel articles frequently on his website, where he has an entire section devoted to beer!


Travel Tuesday Q&A with Crooner Matt Dusk

Juno-nominated Canadian singer/songwriter and arranger Matt Dusk has been likened to Sinatra by reviewers. His 2007 debut album, Two Shots, achieved gold status. Though his suit-and-tie-clad public persona and self-described role as a “jazz-popp musicologist” might suggest someone who takes himself über-seriously, Matt is surprisingly laid-back and isn’t afraid to mix it up with his music: throwing a techno beat behind a crooning-style song or mixing Motown and ballroom on his most recent album, Good News. Born in Toronto, where currently lives, Matt has seen most of Canada while touring, with the exception of the Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Newfoundland. (Attention NL concert promoters: Matt wants to hear from you!) Recently, Matt carved some time out of his busy schedule to talk travel with Where.ca.

While on tour you spend maybe one or two nights in a city. Are you able to get out and see the places where you’re performing?
To be honest, there NEVER is enough time. Canada is HUGE and it usually takes 8 hours to go between major urban centres. So when you do a show on Monday, you’re on the bus overnight and in the next place on Tuesday. I’ve been coast to coast (almost) numerous times, and I have to say that Canada is one of the most beautiful countries, period.

What place or experience has stood out for you while travelling in Canada? Anything that has surprised you about your own country?
Recently while travelling from Calgary to Vancouver, we were making our way through the mountains, and became engulfed in a traffic jam…in the middle of nowhere. There were a bunch of goats that decided it would be a GREAT idea to camp out in the middle of the road and have a goat party or whatever they do. I thought this only happened in the movies…and in Europe!


Travel Tuesday Q&A with Photojournalist Kirsten Murphy

Kirsten Murphy is a self-taught photojournalist based in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories. She travels around the north as a regular contributor for Up Here magazine and a sometime host and producer for CBC. A recent trip to Ivvavik National Park in the Yukon was featured in the Globe and Mail. Her work has also appeared in Maclean’s and the National Post, in Frommer’s guidebooks and on CBC.ca. She’s excited about working on a book about northern dogs and a photo essay about emerging chicken farms in Hay River, Northwest Territories. (more…)