Outstanding Women in BC Foodservice: 2021 Edition

March 06, 2021

Leadership in restaurants, even in 2021, remains largely the domain of men. While over 60% of American women have worked in the restaurant industry at some point in their life and women are the cooks and chefs on the home front, when it comes to professional roles in restaurants and kitchens, women often hold less senior roles than men. However, we know and celebrate extraordinary women providing leadership in foodservice across the province.

The 9 women we are recognizing today are innovative and forging the future of dining and eating in our province. We are proud to showcase these women, who through dedication and determination, have risen to new heights in their careers. Their achievements deserve our respect and recognition.

As we encourage more women into leadership in restaurants, we are excited to see the continued change to the face of restaurants, to the enhancements of restaurant workplace culture and the empowerment of young women in careers in hospitality.

We hope that this week you will raise a glass to the women in leadership positions in restaurants and foodservice that we haven’t recognized today – we’d love to hear their stories. Please tag us @BCRFA and @BCTastesBetter.

On behalf of the BCRFA Team, we’re starting our International Women’s Day with a cheers to you!

  • Megan Buckley (Hy’s of Canada)
  • Eva Gates (Sequoia Company of Restaurants – Vancouver)
  • Suzanne Fielden (Rocky Mountain Flatbread - Vancouver)
  • Sandra Viney (Atlas Café – Courtenay)
  • Peggy Vogler (Aphrodite’s Café -Vancouver)
  • Katie Ruddell (Kokomo Foods - Vancouver)
  • Barb Finley (Project Chef - Vancouver)
  • Jude Brunt & Maddie Hodges (Globe Café Tapas Trattoria - Big White)

1. Megan Buckley – Chief Operating Officer at Hy’s of Canada, Vancouver

Megan Buckley is passionate about always getting it right. She believes in the trade, not the tricks of the trade and in service that is comfortable, genuine, professional.

Megan began her journey with Hy’s of Canada, as the opening General Manager of Gotham Steakhouse in 1999. Since then, she’s been wildly successful in opening and leading numerous restaurants, under several brands across Canada, including the most recent opening of a 18000 sq ft flagship Hy’s Steakhouse location in downtown Toronto.

Her business acumen and leadership have helped create successful restaurants, while her mentorship and willingness to share her knowledge have launched many successful hospitality careers and fostered a culture of inclusion and support for staff at all levels.

 

2. Eva Gates – VP of Operations & Human Resources at Sequoia Company of Restaurants, Vancouver

Eva Gates is the first Leading Employer to be entered in the BC Restaurant Hall of Fame. Eva was driven to her career by the busy pace, variety of customers and the challenge of exceeding their expectations. As vice-president of Operations and Human Resources, she consistently strives for excellence in herself and in others.

One of Eva’s colleagues told us “I am proud of Eva's achievements, very proud to work for her, and most proud to call her my friend. She is highly respected, effective and admired in the industry. I've personally followed her four separate times, separate companies over my career because I know, without a doubt, that once her personality and working style permeates her new surroundings it will soon be transformed into a place where we, who are dedicated to the industry, will be able to thrive.”

We’re excited to profile Eva as she is a mentor to managers and staff – leading her teams in a climate of continuous improvement.

 

3. Suzanne Fielden - Co-Founder & Co-Owner at Rocky Mountain Flatbread, Vancouver

Suzanne Fielden is the leader and force behind Rocky Mountain Flatbread and the head of local non-profit Earth Bites. Her values are at the core of everything she does – including her vision for her companies and her style of leading her teams.

Suzanne and partner Dominic’s founded Rocky Mountain Flatbread in 2004. Their concept thrives on strong relationships with local farmers, environmental groups and like-minded businesses. With Earth Bites, Suzanne focuses on connecting elementary school kids with learning how to grow and eat nutritious food through a seed to plate philosophy. Taking it one step further, she’s just launched her home seed kits to help raise money for school pacs.

Her partner Dominic tells us that he is “constantly in awe about what she is able to accomplish every day.  She is brilliant with people, gives so much and has oodles of positive energy. And she’s the mother of three wonderful kids. Don’t know how she does it all.”

 

4. Sandra Viney - Co-Owner at Atlas Cafe, Courtenay

Sandra Viney is a passionate restaurateur on Vancouver Island. She believes in being in service to her community and has done so for the past 25 years. Currently she is a founding member on the Comox Valley Food Policy Security Council and is actively participating in local food security initiatives. 

As a long standing community volunteer, she understands the importance of healthy access to food for all and the importance of giving back to the community that has supported Atlas over these decades. Supporting local farmers, given the interdependance of our relationship within the food chain, and advocating for local food procurement for organizations and institutions is her jam.

Under Sandra’s leadership, her restaurant Atlas Cafe has been serving breakfast lunch and dinner to the good folks of the Comox Valley and visitors since 1995.

 

5. Peggy Vogler - Owner at Aphrodite's Organic Cafe and Pie Shop, Vancouver

For over 15 years, Peggy has been committed to Aphrodite's and everything it stands for: farm fresh, local and organic food. Peggy runs the ship and the whole family is a part of making it extra special. Daughters Melissa and Katie serve part time while attending school, and her husband and son are often on hand to help too! Many of Aphrodite’s clients feel like her family – she has served couples on their first dates and now they come in with their kids.

Aphrodite’s is more than a restaurant and pie shop, it’s a community fiercely dedicated to wild, organic, local and sustainable food. Peggy is determined to work directly with local farms and producers to ensure that the menu has the smallest ecological footprint possible. She has made a home for the sustainable food movement in Vancouver, supporting local farmers, producers, artists, charities and non-profits.

This is a tough business in the best of times and Peggy works tirelessly to ensure that everyone, from the servers, kitchen, and suppliers all continue to work and are proud to do so! Her staff tell us that they are extremely proud to be a part of her awesome team. That’s an amazing tribute.

 

6. Katie Ruddell - Owner at Kokomo Foods, Vancouver

Katie Ruddell is the owner of Kokomo foods. She has grown a loyal community and a strong following by using her stores and platform to showcase, support and highlight other local plant based brands. Her goal is to nourish the bellies of our neighbourhoods with creative and delicious plant based foods.

Katie opened her first location in the heart of Vancouver’s Chinatown, with a passion for community and good food, she curated a plant based menu of macro bowls, acai bowls and smoothies, to bring sunshine into everyone’s daily routines. A year later, she opened her second location to the beach bums of Kitsilano! A year after that, to the active and growing community of Edgemont Village in North Vancouver.

Her most recent accolade was launching More Plant Mondays as an opportunity to shed light on local businesses to share a journey of introducing more plants into daily life routines in whatever way works for them.

 

7. Barb Finley - Founder at Project CHEF: Cook Health Edible Food, Vancouver

Barb Finley is a chef, educator and the founder of Project CHEF: Cook Healthy Edible Food.

Barb became determined to develop a program that could teach all Vancouver children about healthy cooking and eating. In 2007, she developed the curriculum-based school program, Project CHEF. The program is in its 14th year – and has worked with over 16 thousand students and nearly a thousand teachers. Participants learn about growing food, what it tastes like, how to prepare it and how to enjoy eating the fruits of their labour together.

Funded through many partnerships, Barb works closely with chefs and culinarians in the community, the Greater Vancouver Food Bank and the VSB.

Barb was inducted into our BC Restaurant Hall of Fame in 2019 for her leadership in bringing the love of healthy local food and cooking to children and families and for helping professionals connect with the next generation of chefs and cooks.

 

8. Jude Brunt - Restaurant Co-Owner at Globe Café Tapas Trattoria, Big White Ski Resort

9. Maddie Hodges - General Manager at Globe Café Tapas Trattoria, Big White Ski Resort

Jude is a natural networker and connector of people for the right reasons. She’s at heart an entrepreneur and is co-owner of Globe Café Tapas Trattoria in Big White. She sets the tone for the restaurants she owns and has a no fuss, no rush, no rules approach to dining in a casual ski resort. She is proud to feature the bounty of local suppliers and to offer a warm welcome to locals and visitors alike.

At Globe Café Tapas Trattoria, she is proud to have had strong women in leadership and ownership from when it first opened in 2008. For the 13 years they’ve been in business, they’ve had 2 amazing female general managers: Maddie, GM & Wine Steward and her predecessor Jo Audette, GM & Sommelier.

Maddie recently developed a unique cocktail list curated around the theme “Powerful Women of History”. Each cocktail is a tribute to a famous female who has done something good…or bad…but always special!