‘Top Chef’ has a new gig

Cloverdale's Chef Matthew Stowe lines up with the rapidly-growing Joseph Richard Group

Matthew Stowe is new director of culinary operations of Joseph Richard Group

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Cloverdale’s very own Matthew Stowe – and Top Chef Canada Season three winner – has taken on a new challenge.

He’s joined the Joseph Richard Group as the fast-growing food, beverage and entertainment company’s director of culinary operations, it was announced last week.

Stowe said he’ll focus on refining the menus at S+L Kitchen & Bar in Langley, where he’ll join MasterChef Canada winner David Jorge, and all of the Joseph Richard Group (JRG) public houses, including The Henry Public House in Cloverdale.

“I’ll also be partnering with them [JRG] to open my restaurant in 2017,” he said in a Facebook post last week, adding his fans should stay tuned for more details, updates and a sneak peak at new menu items.

It’s not known where Stowe’s chef-driven concept would be located – except that it will be in the Fraser Valley.

Stowe, who won the reality TV show in 2013, got his start cooking at Lord Tweedsmuir Secondary’s culinary arts program under the guidance of instructor Guy Ethier – who was on hand in person at a packed viewing party at Coal Harbour Cactus Club when the then-30-year-old was crowned in front of the Food Network’s cameras.

JRG, meanwhile, was created by Surrey natives Andre ‘Joseph’ Bourque and Ryan ‘Richard’ Moreno, who were school friends who got their start as bartenders before opening their first club in 2002.

They formed the JRG in 2011. In the span of just five years, the company has rapidly expanded to 18 pubs, restaurants, night clubs and liquor stores – including the Clover Crossing Liquor Store in Cloverdale, and Townhall Pubs in Langley and South Surrey.

By December, the company will have opened six new establishments in 2016 – including expansions into Alberta.

New locations include the S+L Kitchen & Bar in Langley and at Morgan Crossing in South Surrey, and Sudo Asian Kitchen, opening spring 2017 at 192 Street and Fraser Highway in Langley.

Stowe said he is excited to join the Joseph Richard Group with its growing range of establishments.

“The variety of operations means there’s plenty of room for creativity, something I want us to excel at going forward,” he said.

JRG CEO Ryan Moreno said, “Matthew’s experience, creativity and skill in the kitchen add depth and another dimension to our growing JRG team.”

He added Stowe will “elevate the guest experience” and will help bring new ideas off the drawing board and onto the plate.

Stowe’s start at Lord Tweedsmuir helped land him work placements at the Pan Pacific Hotel and Fairmont Vancouver – where he became the hotel’s youngest employee, working there during senior year.

He attended the Culinary Institute of America in New York, interning at Lutèce, a classic French restaurant that hired him when he graduated.

In 2004, the 23-year-old moved back to his home province to become executive chef of Sonora Resort. It was during his tenure that Sonora was accepted into Relais et Chateaux; he thinks he was the youngest Relais & Chateaux chef at the time.

More recently, he was product development chef at Cactus Club Cafe developing menu items, but he’s long maintained that he hoped to open a restaurant of his own. The fact that the Top Chef Canada prize came with $100,000 also fueled speculation about Stowe’s next move.

“I would like to do something in this area,” he told the Reporter in 2013. “There’s a lot of people out here who appreciate good food. It’s nice for people to not have to drive to the city [Vancouver] to have the same dining experience.”

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