Much has changed in Calgary since Lance Hurtubise made his first foray into our city’s culinary scene—as a dishwasher at the age of 12, making $2.10 an hour. From his days serving as a bus boy, waiter, bouncer and manager, to now acting as President and CEO of the Vintage Group. At the helm of seven local establishments, Hurtubise has seen it all in Calgary’s kitchens over the last four decades.
“Calgary grew up as steak and potatoes, and we’re still known as steak and potatoes,” he says, “but now Calgary is slowly starting to educate people on our food, and people are starting to come to Calgary and realize what it offers as a great culinary city.”
Hurtubise upholds that standard of homegrown excellence at each of his restaurants. Vintage Group currently manages and maintains seven culinary concepts—Vintage Chophouse (page 57), Redwater Rustic Grille (page 51), Booker’s BBQ and Crab Shack (page 49), Butcher and the Baker (page 52), Township Bar and Grill (page 57) and Moose McGuire’s (page 50), with a Chairman’s Steakhouse on the way in 2018. Hurtubise says his recipe for success has remained much the same.
“It all comes back to the basics: good food, good service,” he says. “You get the best product you can, stay true to your roots, and don’t screw it up!”
What sights would you insist visitors to Calgary check out?
The arts scene, I think, is huge here, and I think the culinary scene is huge here, too. So I would say if you’re heading to the city, come have a good meal, and then go see a show. You’re bound to be entertained.
Where do you go in town to get the perfect cut of Alberta beef?
Vintage Chophouse, of course! I love the rib eye here—rib eye and oysters.
What dish does Calgary do very well, but is surprisingly not known for?
Lamb is one of our biggest things here—everyone says beef, but Alberta lamb is some of the best lamb anywhere. I think our cocktail scene has come light years. Ramen is also talking off. Our barbecue is kind of a best-kept secret as well. And we’re doing a great job of Italian in this city.
“People are starting to come to Calgary and realize what it offers as a great culinary city.”