Luke Legault | Winner of the 2018 Entrepreneur’s Choice Award – North
“The one question most people get asked/ask themselves is “what if I fail” but more importantly, I think the question truly should be, “what if I’m a success”?”
Luke’s mantra has always been that good food is simple, and every natural ingredient should be given the opportunity to shine through respect and proper cooking techniques.
As the entrepreneur behind the thriving restaurant, The Wandering Bison, Luke celebrates the North through authentic regional flavours and menus, using ingredients sourced from local farmers. A champion of local entrepreneurs, Luke has helped farmers and skilled trades workers stay resilient while keeping food production in the territory.
Having hosted government leaders and royalty, providing ‘The True Taste of the North’, Luke is a role model and leader in the Yukon’s entrepreneurship community.
Startup News had the opportunity to sit down with Luke Legault to learn more.
SN: What inspired you to become an entrepreneur?
LL: Working my way through the culinary world has been wonderful but also (at times) frustrating as I tried to stay motivated and excited about executing someone else’s vision. Thinking about where I would find inspiration and be excited about waking up the morning led me to the understanding that I was the one in control of how to be the proudest of my accomplishments. I was saddened by the lack of places in this town that would allow me to stretch my culinary muscles as I desired to and so jumping out on my own was the only option. Truly though, while I was inspired for a year at least before taking the jump, it was my wife who actually motivated me to say “now or never” and push all-in no holds barred.
SN: What is the biggest lesson you have learned to date?
LL: The biggest lesson to date has been that no matter how much you plan or how much you think you’ve got things going in the direction you think you should go, the business will decide its own fate. I started with a very different thought on my business plan and due to the desires of the community, things have completely changed. Truthfully, at the start I had not even considered that I would be catering and now, two and a half years since the first event I catered, I have cooked for The Duke & Duchess of Cambridge, all of the Premiers & their senior officials, past and present Governor Generals of Canada, the Justin Trudeau and countless other awesome people who get to see what an amazing culinary mecca the north can be.
SN: What advice do you have to those starting up today?
LL: The one question most people get asked/ask themselves is “what if I fail” but more importantly, I think the question truly should be, “what if I’m a success”? I had so many plans in place for if my business didn’t succeed but not once did I plan on how things would be if I were to become the success that I am today. I am getting international recognition for something that I love to do and still feel at times that I am an imposter for being recognized on such a scale. Your ideas are worth it and your skills are worth it. Being able to see yourself as a success shouldn’t purely be based on how you see yourself and instead should be based on how you make other peoples lives better.
SN: What is the one thing you think we need to do as a nation, today, to position Canada as a global innovation and entrepreneurial leader?
LL: I’m very sad that our general mentality of the availability of food and cost of food is taken for granted. I want to see more desire to eat locally and for menus to reflect this and utilize what we are capable of within our own borders. One major thing I’ve learned with life in the north is that if you show there’s a demand, the supply will follow and this goes for something simple like food as well as something major such as housing. Aquaponics & hydroponics are amazingly sustainable and with the right people running them, we could be producing our own beautiful strawberries in Whitehorse in February vs relying on cheap American labour to sell us Californian. Through my business I am incredibly proud to be able to say that through my purchases, I make a difference in local producer’s pockets and when people visit the north, I know that they leave being thrilled by our skill but also excited about our flavours. In the Yukon we host visitors from all around the world on a daily basis and I think we’re uniquely poised to be able to show our ingenuity and innovation to everyone and give high fives about how great things can be.
SN: What is your message to the world?
LL: #cometomyyukon there is absolutely no better place.
SN: How have you benefited from being a recipient of the Startup Canada Awards so far?
LL: I’m really running out of places where my name can be mentioned as a leader in the culinary scene. I’ve had articles written about me in the local papers, entire segments dedicated to me on CBC, shout-outs in the Globe and Mail, Montecristo magazine and if you pick up the latest copy of North of Ordinary, you’ll see a picture of all of us amazing people standing up smiling at the awards function in May. However, I think that the main way I’ve benefited is that I feel a great deal of personal pride in winning the award. I mentioned slightly earlier on that it’s easy to fall into a bit of an ‘imposter syndrome’ type mentality and being recognized on a world stage such as what your award does really bring personal validation to my efforts.