Chef Eden Hrabec presents her smoke and spice ceviche (photos: Kristian Bogner)

Local Fare: Chef Eden Hrabec Cooks Globally in Canmore

By Liane Faulder

Guests entering Canmore’s Crazyweed restaurant quickly learn two things about head chef Eden Hrabec: Her menu is inspired by global flavours, but it’s rooted in the Rockies.

Each dish, from the Filipino adobo chicken wings to the South American–inspired ceviche, balances the exotic reaches of Hrabec’s imagination with the best locally available ingredients.

This year marks Crazyweed’s 20th anniversary, a sign the food scene in Canmore is maturing as the town itself blossoms. With high-end food shops and unique food trucks alike, it’s becoming as much a destination for dining as for stunning scenery and outdoor adventures.

“It’s evolved so much,” Hrabec says of her hometown. “There are so many new places popping up and it’s exciting.”

Hrabec was raised in the kitchen—her mother, Jan, was Crazyweed’s first chef—but she didn’t always aim to fill her mom’s shoes. She left Canmore for Calgary at age 18, but returned a few years later to work at the front of house.

She was soon drawn to the eatery’s steamy soul, and pursued culinary arts training in Vancouver and restaurant experience in Australia before diving fully into the family passion project.

In 2012 she won the gold medal for Calgary in the prestigious Gold Medal plates competition. And two years ago she travelled to India on a culinary grant from Calgary’s City Palate magazine.

“I can’t wait to do it again,” Hrabec says. “There’s no better way to learn about food than to travel.”

Edmonton chef Brad Smoliak‘s hearty sauerkraut stew

Lately, international insight has come to her. In 2015, chefs from New York to the Netherlands visited Alberta for Cook It Raw, an international culinary collaboration. Seeing her world through the eyes of far-flung cooks heightened Hrabec’s appreciation for Alberta’s signature products, including bison, honey and Saskatoon berries.

“A lot of us locals didn’t even realize how we can take one ingredient, dig deep within it and pay tribute,” she says.

A refreshing way to begin a meal

5 oz Ahi tuna, diced
1 avocado, diced
1 tsp coriander seeds, crushed
1/2 jalapeno pepper, minced
4 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp mezcal
1/4 bunch cilantro, chopped
Juice of 2 limes
Maldon salt, for seasoning
1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
1 cup watermelon, diced
1/4 jicama, peeled and diced
4 kumquats, thinly sliced
Tortilla chips

Make the ceviche
Mix tuna, avocado, coriander, jalapeno, 2 tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp mezcal, cilantro, half of lime juice, and pinch of salt in large bowl. Slightly break up avocado. Spread on large plate.

Make the garnish
In a large bowl, combine cucumber, watermelon, jicama and a pinch of salt with remaining lime juice, olive oil and mezcal. Spread evenly on the tuna mixture; scatter kumquat slices on top. Sprinkle with tortilla chips or serve on the side.