Northern Alberta Institute of Technology

Rod Butters named NAIT’s 2018 Hokanson Chef in Residence

Okanagan-based chef to share what it's really like to run a restaurant

Acclaimed Kelowna chef and restaurateur Rod Butters is NAIT’s 2018 Hokanson Chef in Residence. He'll work alongside Culinary Arts students from March 12-16.

This is the 10th anniversary of the Hokanson Chef in Residence program, which has drawn a host of celebrated chefs to NAIT, including Lynn Crawford, Rob Feenie, Susur Lee, Vikram Vij and Amanda Cohen. The program provides students with the rare opportunity to learn from some of the best chefs in the world.

Butters owns 3 restaurants in the Okanagan Valley and is opening a fourth in Kelowna this spring. He is a well-known proponent of local and regional cuisine and supporter of his community’s food producers.

“I know it’s a big cliché now, but I live here, my farmers live here, my customers live and work here,” he explains. “What goes around comes around.”

Butters has trained at hotels and restaurants in Vancouver, Toronto and Hong Kong. He was founding chef de cuisine at the renowned Wickaninnish Inn in Tofino and is a member of the B.C. Restaurant Hall of Fame and the Canadian Culinary Federation Honour Society.

While at NAIT, he will work closely with students, sharing recipes and techniques from his own restaurants. He also hopes to enlighten them about the day-to-day of running a business in the food and hospitality industry.

“The cooking part is the easy part for all of us,” he says. “I don’t want to eliminate the sexy image [of running a restaurant] but I want to give more of a sense of the reality.”

"I want to give more of a sense of the reality.”

rod butters, chef, raudz, kelowna5 surprising facts about Rod Butters

While his culinary skills and business acumen will be highlighted during his time at NAIT, there are things we found out about Butters that you might not expect to find on a chef’s CV:

  1. He’s trained 51 apprentices over the course of his career. “Most of them have gone on to greatness,” he adds. “It’s what I do, it’s what I believe.”
     
  2. He’s an avid gardener whose award-winning yard is on Kelowna’s Flower Power City Garden Tour, visited by 900 people each year. “Don’t ask me what I was thinking, considering I am an incredibly private person in my personal life.”
     
  3. He wanted to be a professional pitcher and earned a baseball scholarship to Indiana State University but a shoulder injury dashed those plans. “I went on to the thing I was actually good at, which was cooking,” he adds with a laugh.
     
  4. If he hadn’t been a baseball player or a chef/restaurateur, he would have been an architect. “I love old things mixed with modern – the yin and yang of it.” He’s been closely involved in the design of all his restaurants.
     
  5. He’s an avid cyclist. He has 6 bikes in his garage, including road, hybrid, trail and mountain bikes.

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