Community and appetite-minded, Chef Paul Shufelt has been making waves in the culinary industry of Edmonton. Celebrating rustic comfort cuisine with local and seasonal fare, Chef Paul has been a breath of fresh air amidst a quiet yet booming foodie shift in the city.
We sat down with Chef Paul to learn more about his food philosphy and restaurant, The Workshop Eatery, located in the Brookfied Residential community of Lake Summerside.
Q. How did your culinary journey begin?
A. Similar to many chefs, I grew up with my mom’s cooking, but what fueled my passion was working at a small restaurant as a dishwasher at the age of 16. From there, it was my first wake up call that the harder I worked, the more opportunities I got to work in the kitchen. Working in Montreal briefly, and then enrolling into the culinary program at NAIT, I was hooked. I’ve been blessed to worked under Chef Thomas Neukom in Banff, and a stint in Switzerland that has really shaped the chef that I am today.
Q. What was your inspiration for the Workshop Eatery?
A. There’s a number of things that inspired me, but honouring my mom’s cooking is really the foundation of the restaurant. There’s something to be said for home cooked meals, the comfort of it all. I also wanted to cook only with in-season, fresh ingredients from regional and national farmers and producers; it’s an important part of being a chef – supporting local as best as I can.
Q. So what kind of dishes do you create?
A. The restaurant will always feature staples proteins like fish, chicken or beef; but my team and I are always keeping the menu fresh with vegetables that are grown and available during the time of year. We focus on creating comfort food, with a little bit of a modern twist.
Q. There are some ingredients that are tough to get in our backyard or might not be seasonal. What does the restaurant do alternatively during the season?
A. We make almost everything in-house, including our jams, dressings and ketchup. We do preserve some ingredients so we can savour them throughout the year. The team puts great emphasis on capturing flavours of the season with certain ingredients and highlighting them at their peak. We also have our pickling cabinet, that really does wonders.
Q. What is the relationship with The Mosaic Centre?A. The Mosaic Centre is the perfect spot for The Workshop Eatery – visually stunning and a centre for a conscious community and commerce. The Centre model is sustainable and affordable, and supportive of how community members use the work spaces to innovate and collaborate. With the support of the building, the restaurant has its own vegetable gardens and we collect our honey from the rooftop honeybees.
Q. Is sustainability important for the restaurant?
A. The Workshop Eater has its own environmental and sustainable goals, where we aim to reduce our impact on the environment. I challenged our team to bring it down to one bag of garbage per day and three bags of recycling. While we are striving to achieve this, we aren’t there quite yet. I anticipate that we’ll be successful by the end of the summer.
Q. Leading a restaurant is no easy feat – what else do you have on the go?
A. It’s for the love of food. I write a weekly article for the Edmonton Sun, giving Edmontonians some tips and tricks to create their own mouth-watering and stress-free recipes at home with the family. I also make sure that I spend quality time with my family because that’s my first priority and number one role.