Remembering Chef Anthony Sedlak

Sad news this past weekend as Anthony Sedlak, one of Canada’s youngest, beloved chefs, died on July 6. A released statement said that he died suddenly of an undiagnosed medical condition, at the age of 29.

Entering the restaurant business at 13 (as a busboy in a Grouse Mountain cafe), Sedlak soon began working at the Observatory on Grouse Mountain, and completed a culinary arts program at age 19. From there he went on to cook and further refine his talents at top restaurants in Europe and the U.K, eventually becoming executive sous-chef at La Trompette, a Michelin Star restaurant in London.

Sedlack’s accomplishments include winning silver for Canada at the World Junior Chef Challenge, winning the Food Network’s Superstar Chef Challenge (and hosting four seasons of their show The Main as a result) and releasing a best-selling cookbook based on the cooking show. Although famous for his camera-ready good looks, Sedlak remained dedicated to restaurants. “Cooking is not like riding a bike,” he once told this magazine. “You really have to stay on it.”

He held true to that philosophy, working with Andre McGillivray and Steve Da Cruz in 2009 to open the Corner Suite Bistro DeLuxe (located where Dale Mackay’s Ensemble now stands). Daring to open a restaurant in the middle of the recession, McGillivray was optimistic. “The recession isn’t going to last forever,” he told Vancouver. “When things return to normal we’ll be right where we want to be.” Unfortunately the bistro closed in 2011, but by that time Sedlak had already left his position as executive chef to commit to the opportunities he was receiving through his T.V. and book career.

His second show on the Food Network, Family Cook Off, is currently on air and has Canadian families pitting their family recipes against one another to prove they’re the best home cooks. Sedlak sat as one of three celebrity judges on the show.

Most recently, Sedlak opened Davie Street’s American Cheesesteak Co., a restaurant that reinterprets the classic Philly cheesesteak with all-natural, locally-sourced ingredients. “We want to wow people with simple flavours produced through flawless technique, bringing to life the story behind the dishes we present at the restaurant,” Sedlak said. “Trends come and go, but classics are forever.”

He remained active in Vancouver, participating in the Arts Club’s Celebrity Chef Cooking Class Series, as well as posing on LOV (Living Out Vancouver) magazine’s cover in his underwear. When LOV pointed out that not every straight man would be as easygoing about posing for a gay magazine, Sedlak replied, “I’ve been nagging my publicist that I would love to do a cover for a gay magazine in my undies…why not? Gay, straight, Asian, Caucasian etc…who really cares these days? We’re all good.”