This global entrepreneur and founder of Edible Canada started out as a chef, later going on to get an MBA in hotel finance.
The idea for Edible Canada, a business that now employs 100+people and runs food stores and restaurants, as well as consulting to government, regions, operators and producers, came from Pateman’s accountant. Pateman recounts that he was trying to find a way to write off his exorbitant dining costs on tax when his accountant said to him, “Make it part of your work.”
Pateman had recently travelled through France and encountered a business called Edible Paris, a culinary concierge service that organised food-centric experiences for travellers to France. He thought that was cool and wondered how he could make it work in Canada.
He promptly started up a culinary travel business and over the past 10years, Pateman has built Edible Canada into a food tourism powerhouse and Canada’s largest culinary travel company.
He now is writing the national culinary tourism framework strategy for the Canadian government, as well as advising and strategising on behalf of numerous regions and provinces, as well as private tourism operators throughout the country, including recently doing the business case to open Canada’s first Centre of Excellence and Innovation for the seafood industry.
His work is not limited to Canada as one of the global experts on culinary tourism. He is currently working with a private island in Fiji and a yachting company in Monaco, as well as an Antarctic expedition cruising company, focusing on introducing more local produce and food experiences into their offerings.
He also owns a salt company called Amola, runs the Yukon territory’s food festivals and is about to go into production for a Canadian food-focused travel show with national and international distribution.
He says that 88 per cent of destinations around the world now consider food a driving force in tourism, but that not everyone is doing it well.
“The big thing that everyone needs to remember is that culinary tourism is not just about food – it is about the total package – the people, the story, the place and product which includes food and service. These elements need to work together.
“Amazingly, there are still many places that combine an outstanding location (maybe on the waterfront) with terrible food and service, and they survive due to the location. We need to focus on the entire experience,” he said.
He says that people have moved on from the days of ‘going there and buying the t-shirt’ that says they were there, through the era of experience-based travel, and now they want transformational travel that teaches them something and changes or enriches their life.
Pateman’s favourite place to visit (and eat) is San Sebastian in Spain. He says it’s one of the few places in the world where the farmers, the locals and the restaurateurs just get it. It also happens to have the most Michelin-starred restaurants of any destination in the world. Combine that with surfing, beaches, biking, hiking and outstanding culture and you know why he never wants to leave.
When he is not travelling, he is hanging outside (sometimes off a rock face) with his three daughters who are all ‘outdoor junkies’ in his mountain town home of Squamish, BC (just 35 minutes south of Whistler).
And just in case you’re wondering, Canada’s national foods would be considered maple syrup, smoked salmon, poutine, foraged berries and mushrooms and seafood like lobster, crab and prawns. Wild game like elk, caribou, bison and wild boar are popular when you can find them, but the current laws around its provision are restrictive.
For more information about Eric Pateman, check out Edible Canada here or you can follow his travels on Instagram @EricPateman.