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May 21, 2019

The Taste Makers: Davina Moraiko

This chef is changing the food scene with her focus on whole-animal cooking.

Photography Ryan Parker

Any chef can transform a prime cut of meat into a masterpiece, but it takes a true artist to craft beautiful plates out of the parts that many would simply toss in the garbage. For Davina Moraiko, chef de cuisine at Rge Rd, every ingredient is a new opportunity — and there’s nothing she won’t utilize. Her focus on whole-animal cooking has been honed at Rge Rd, and it’s a philosophy she brings to every dish she creates.

Moraiko grew up in Edmonton and attended NAIT’s Culinary Arts program, and spent several years in Vancouver honing her craft. Then, when chef and Rge Rd co-owner Blair Lebsack decided to open his own restaurant, he called up Moraiko and asked if she’d want to be his sous chef. “The reason I love working here is the relationships we get to have with farmers, getting to go to the farms and do dinners there.”

Last year, Moraiko competed in the 2018 edition of The Great Kitchen Party, and created a blood sausage dish that many warned she wouldn’t be able to win with. She ended up taking home the gold — and a sense of satisfaction at being true to her culinary philosophy. “The win was pretty sweet because I went into it doing what I do every single day.”

For Moraiko, there are two major reasons she’s passionate about being in the kitchen. The first is the ongoing nature of it — as she says, “you will never know everything about food and cooking because it’s constantly changing, the environment’s changing, produce is changing season to season, you’ll never know everything and that just keeps you going.” The second, simply, is because of the feelings a great meal can evoke. “I just like to make people happy, and food is a great way to make people happy,” she says.

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