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Top restaurants helmed by SAIT alumni

Executive chef JP Pedhirney of Bridgette Bar (left) with general manager Dewey Noordhof. Bridgette has been earning accolades since it opened.

Executive chef JP Pedhirney of Bridgette Bar (left) with general manager Dewey Noordhof. Bridgette has been earning accolades since it opened. Handout photo from Press+Post.

On a busy night at Bridgette Bar, executive chef JP Pedhirney can be spotted in the open kitchen perfecting plates of braised rabbit on toast, beet salads and share-worthy platters of wood-grilled meats.

Most nights see the Beltline restaurant full of hungry patrons looking for a meal or something to nibble on with wine — no surprise considering Bridgette has been earning significant accolades since opening, including a spot on OpenTable's recent list of 100 best restaurants across Canada.

Also in the last year, Bridgette was named one to watch by Avenue magazine for its annual restaurant issue last March and, just last week, was proclaimed by Where Calgary as one of the city's 12 best.

Pedhirney, who graduated in 2010 from the apprenticeship program, chose SAIT because of its reputation in the culinary world, which only continues to grow.

"Alumni getting on the OpenTable list is a reflection of the work that instructors put into training students, along with their support after we graduate," he says.

Making the cut

Bridgette is not the only restaurant kitchen led by a grad from SAIT's culinary program to receive OpenTable's recent honour. Vero Bistro Moderne, run by chef-owner Jenny Chan, and Bow Valley Ranche Restaurant — with executive chef Jenny Kang heading the kitchen — were also among the Calgary eateries to place on the list.

The recognition of these restaurants where SAIT alumni ply their trade, creating delicious and beautiful dishes, is further evidence of the program's chops, says School of Hospitality and Tourism Interim Dean Cindy Findlay.

"We couldn't be more proud of the nod given by OpenTable to these three alumni for their outstanding contributions to the food scene in Calgary," she says.

The OpenTable list — which recognizes restaurants for consistently offering good food, service and singular experiences — is based on votes by diners who use the reservation system. Eleven Calgary restaurants made the list.

Future winners

As the Professional Cooking, Culinary Entrepreneurship and Baking and Pastry Arts classes continue to be in high demand, Findlay also expects the number of SAIT grads on best restaurants lists in the years ahead will grow.

"SAIT culinary grads are everywhere, popping out of kitchens and bakeries to greet their former chef instructors and mentors," says Findlay.

"It's gratifying to see them thriving in Calgary's culinary scene."