Cactus Club Cafe’s culinary vision is led by Canada’s first Iron Chef America Champion, Rob Feenie

Chef Rob Feenie is part of the Cactus Club Test Kitchen, where he permanently resides as the Executive Chef.

The driving culinary force behind Cactus Restaurants Ltd., the award-winning collection of casual fine dining restaurants in BC and Alberta, Rob Feenie is also one of Canada’s most recognized and celebrated chefs.

At Cactus Restaurants, Chef Feenie leads the culinary team, blending his talent for creating elegant, globally inspired cuisine with his passion for simple dishes using fresh, local ingredients.  During Chef Feenie’s tenure, the restaurant group has been named “Best Casual Chain” for six straight years at the annual Vancouver Magazine Restaurant awards, a reflection of the influence he has had on the evolution of Cactus’ menu selections and its commitment to sourcing the best fresh, local and sustainable products wherever possible.

Growing up in Burnaby, BC, Chef Feenie first developed a curiosity for international cuisine over countless traditional family dinners at his Japanese neighbours’ home. This early experience was followed by a high school exchange program where he was first introduced to European chefs and techniques.  At 20, Chef Feenie attended the Dubrulle Culinary Institute in Vancouver and upon graduating, became a Sous-chef in some of Western Canada’s top restaurants, notably Le Crocodile, Cherry Stone Cove in Vancouver, and The Rim Rock Café in Whistler.

While at Le Crocodile he began a series of work and educational trips, or stages, throughout Europe and North America, starting in Alsace with Chef Emile Jung at Au Crocodile and Chef Antoine Westermann at Le Buerehiesel, both Michelin three-star rated restaurants. In North America he worked with Chef Charlie Trotter, at Trotter’s Restaurant in Chicago, and Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten at Jean-Georges in New York.

In 1995 Chef Feenie opened the internationally celebrated Lumière Restaurant in Vancouver, followed by Lumière Tasting Bar and then Feenie’s, a more casual Canadian Bistro, next door to Lumière, in 2003.  Throughout his career, Chef Feenie has secured international culinary recognition, including: the coveted Relais Gourmand and Traditions et Qualitè designations, in addition to the Mobil Travel Guide four-stars designation and the AAA Five Diamond Award.  In 2009, Chef Feenie also won the Vancouver Gold Medal Plates competition (Chef Feenie has won this title a total of 4 times in his culinary career).

Chef Feenie has published four cookbooks: Rob Feenie Cooks at Lumière, Lumière Light, and Feenie’s and Rob Feenie’s Casual Classics – Everyday Recipes for Family and Friends .  He also starred on New Classics with Chef Rob Feenie on Food Network Canada for five seasons.  In 2005, Feenie became the first Canadian to win on the popular television show Iron Chef America by defeating Chef Masaharu Morimoto.

“The Feenie makeover of the Cactus menu is full of these sorts of successes, from the carpaccio to the duck-and-chicken club sandwich with crispy prosciutto, sake-soy caramelized sablefish, you name it, and every time I eat at Cactus I leave impressed that his understudies can crank it out with such consistency. For it was not always thus, and the change is good news.

Like the rise of the gastro-pub, this sort of phenomenon puts a lot of pressure on fine dining establishments— maybe as much as does the recession, for good food at an average price makes it easy to perceive the cost of fine-dining extras as too high. In other words, this improves dining out all around.” Jacob Richler, Food Critic, Macleans Magazine