L’Abattoir’s Greg McCallum, a rising star who’s happy where he is

While he knows the next logical step in his career is for him to run his own kitchen, he’s not in any hurry to take it

May 19, 2016

By Max Fawcett / Photo: Andrew Querner

Vancouver’s kitchens have their share of young cooks looking for the shortest possible path to fame and attention. Greg McCallum, L’Abattoir’s 27-year-old chef de cuisine, is not one of them. Instead, he seems content to continue paying his culinary dues. “Right now, I’m just happy being part of the team and developing as a chef, as a manager, and as a cook.”

Those dues began at the age of 13, when he got a job washing dishes at a catering company/cafe in Kelowna. It wasn’t long before he was cooking on the line, and by the end of high school, McCallum says, “I was kind of running the place.” Indeed, the owner offered to make him a partner when he was just 16, but he had bigger plans in mind. Those plans landed him at cooking school in Vancouver (the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts) and eventually in a job at Le Crocodile, where he got to work under chef Michel Jacob and his chef de cuisine Frank Berthelon. “They really inspired me, built me up, and taught me the basics,” McCallum says.

He’s well beyond the basics now, having scaled the ranks at L’Abattoir (where he started in 2010, just weeks after the restaurant opened) to stand alongside executive chef Lee Cooper. But while he knows the next logical step in his career is for him to run his own kitchen, he’s not in any hurry to take it. “You have to decide whether you want to drop the knives and pick up a laptop, or whether you want to be in the kitchen producing food. For now, I definitely want to be in there cooking.”

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