Professional Chef, Owner of “The Kitchen”, Heart Surgery Survivor & Warrior
Episode 131: He Doesn’t Have a Heartbeat or a Pulse, but Chef Brad Smoliak is Winning the Battle Against Heart Disease
Brad Smoliak: lover of all thinks starting with “F”! Family, friends, food, fine wine, and most of all, fabulous wife!
Born at the General Hospital with Transposition of the Great Vessel, and shockingly survived after some intervention, Brad was raised in Edmonton in the mid 1960’s in an average house, in an average neighbourhood, in an above average family. Lots of love and fun, big dinners, card games, and loud Ukrainian relatives filled every square inch of the Smoliak home on the weekends and during the holidays. Likely due to this, hospitality was the obvious career choice.
Although graduating in marketing, the move to cooking was swift, as it was always the first true love. Without any formal education, the Earl’s Restaurant Group provided the foundation for what was to be a lengthy career in the kitchen. From Earl’s it was a move to Normand’s Bistro, as their Executive Chef, and then as co-owner/co-chef at Edmonton’s formidable Hardware Grill. It was finally time for that formal education. Thank God, a fraud for all those years. It was only time before the food police came. After several years at the Hardware Grill, it was time to spend more than 7 hours a day at home, most of which was spent sleeping. Son, Nicholas wondered who this weird man was, did mom have a boyfriend? Next was the Executive Chef at the Royal Mayfair Golf & Country Club.
Time to change gears.
Graduating as a Certified Research Chef from the University of Guelph, provided opportunity to contract as a consulting chef for multiple food processers, caterers, and restaurants which was exciting and involved fabulous travel opportunities. Also, an everchanging environment working as a personal chef, catering dinner parties for the notables of Edmonton. That worked well until catering out of the house was causing some strain on what normally would be considered an idyllic marriage. Let’s just say, it wasn’t always the chef holding the rolling pin!
So came the birth of Kitchen. Kitchen by Brad Smoliak is a culinary studio in downtown Edmonton, specializing in hosting dinner parties in a private environment, serving unpretentious food in a comfortable space. Kitchen also hosts cooking classes. Much better to host guests at Kitchen than to cater in their homes. It has been said, “money doesn’t always guarantee good taste, or cleanliness”.
January 2019 was life changing. An arduous heart surgery to install a Ventricular Assist Device (VAD), as a result of late-stage heart failure and being too sick to get a transplant, changed everything. Without the VAD, death was imminent.
There is not enough gratitude for the care received from the medical team and staff at The Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute. Hospitals are bricks and mortar filled with machines. The life’s blood of a hospital is it’s staff, their professional skills, aptitude, resilience and trouble shooting abilities, but most of all, it’s their heart, their kindness, their humour, their patience, that makes all the difference.
It is a personal lifetime goal to raise $1M through fundraising initiatives for the VAD Program at the MAZ.
Mentoring students and speaking to groups is an honour. To tell the story of beating the odds in life, and in business, is immensely gratifying.
Brad's story paired with his fantastic sense of humour, outlook on life, and ability to take every hardship in stride is absolutely awe-inspiring. Brad is such a special person who everyone can look to for a great example on how to stay positive in the face of absolutely anything.
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