"Okanagan Inspired" is a weekly series of profiles offering a peek into the stories and inspirations of South Okanagan residents who hold creative roles in the community.
A lifelong passion for food is behind the beloved food Penticton's iconic Bogner's restaurant serves up every season.
Born in the small town of Deep River, Ontario, chef Darin Paterson has travelled the world learning and sharing his culinary skills.
“The claim to fame of Deep River was the nuclear power plant,” says Paterson, laughing.
“We moved when I was a teenager and I spent my young adult life and early 20s in Edmonton. I went to NAIT and became a Red Seal Chef. I left Canada for 12 years to cook in various restaurants in Saudi Arabia, Stockholm, Sweden and Singapore."
Upon his return to Canada with his Swedish wife, they agreed Edmonton wasn’t the right place for them.
"We decided to do a tour to Vancouver and see if there would be a location in Vancouver to open a restaurant, but on the way when we got to Penticton we saw Bogner’s had been put up for sale 2-3 days before. It reminded me of a place I had in Stockholm, so we bought it, and never made it to Vancouver,” Paterson explains.
Now having been in Penticton for 15 years, Paterson still feels like it is the right fit.
“I love the availability of products here and how it is so active agriculturally. We have wineries and distilleries and I think it is a great place for a chef to be. There are so many options to be creative with,” Paterson says.
Culinary arts have been a lifelong passion for Paterson.
“My first job when I was 12 or 13 was working at Dairy Queen. I thought it was an easy after school job, and easy money. I really enjoyed the one on one aspect of customer service too. I really thought it was cool though, how you could see the whole process from start to finish within the day," he says.
With Bogner’s having a long and rich history in Penticton, Paterson appreciates being part of its story and enjoys the fit.
“Bogners opened in 1976 and the original owners owned it for 22 years. The second owner had it for nine years and I’ve had it for 15 years now. This restaurant has always been a very homey place for local people. The warmth, atmosphere and individuals that work here make it a great venue,” says Paterson.
In addition to its history, Paterson adds his own unique experience and creativity to the restaurant.
“Owning it was a natural transition. Some chefs are good at making food, but there is also the hospitality aspect of it. I enjoy talking to people and opening up and giving people that background information of how my mind works and the flavours work,” explains Paterson.
With an ever changing menu, using what is available in the region is important to Paterson.
“ Our ingredients don’t have to be the most expensive or inaccessible. We use what we can of what’s around us, and work to put away what we can when there is an abundance. You can't just phone up and have things on demand year round. You have to work with what is available,” says Paterson.
In addition to changing the menu with seasonal availability, Paterson has a second reason for keeping it fresh and exciting.
“Our menus change all the time because we want to do something different and current. I don’t want to make the same calamari every day. It’s important to mix it up and keep it fresh and exciting,” he explains.
“For people starting out cooking, I say to always work in restaurants where you’re learning. The moment you stop learning you’re never going to reach your full potential. When younger chefs take jobs where they get paid more, but learn less, they stop their development and it's harder to pick up at an older age. Working as part of a conveyor belt of a restaurant won’t push you or help grow your understanding of cooking."
Although it's hard for him to pick a favourite thing to cook, you can often find Paterson making shakshuka, a traditional breakfast in the Middle East.
“I like it with salty cheese, runny egg and flatbread,” he says. While cooking, he will be found listening to Bo Kaspers Okester- Undantag. “It is a Swedish song. I see it as a modern day love song and it reminds me of my wife, so I think that’s why it’s my favourite song."
Bogner’s is open weekly Tuesday to Saturday for dinner, and will be offering contactless drive-thru Christmas Dinner on December 24 and 25, and for every meal sold, they will be donating a litre of soup to the South Okanagan Women in Need Society.