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Chef David Cooke

Chef David Cooke

Last Season​

2023 was chef David Cooke’s last season at Arowhon Pines, after 30 years. Please join us as we wish him and his wife Donna, a wonderful retirement full of travel, grandkids, and love. We’ll miss David’s humour, energy, and love of a good story. His teachings in the kitchen have influenced a great number of cooks. They say that behind every great man is a woman rolling her eyes. Donna Cooke has been the labour of love behind all those gorgeous edible flowers in the salads and on your plates, as well as the beautiful monarch butterfly gardens. Thank you both for all the fun times!


David’s love for food began as a child growing up in Montréal, when as a 10-year-old he would get home from school, pick a recipe from his mother’s recipe books, make it, and bake it (and often consume it!) all before his mom returned from work. Professionally his career began at 16; and like everyone else's experience, started in the dish room! David cooked in Ottawa and Calgary before traveling to Europe at a time when it was still possible to pack a wallet of knives in a backpack and hop on a plane. He developed sound basic cooking skills while working in Michelin-starred Hilton hotels in the UK, Switzerland, and Holland, supplemented by training sessions with France's Habaerlin brothers and Hans Stucki in Switzerland.   

Starting in 1986, David worked the summers as Sous Chef at Arowhon Pines and in the winter, traveled and cooked in Australia and Hong Kong. In 1991, David (with his wife, Donna, to whom he proposed at Arowhon, and their three sons) emigrated to England. In 1994 David was awarded “British Master Chef of the Year” and soon after, opened his Michelin-listed restaurant. David competed professionally, twice reaching the final of the “Chef of the Year” culinary award and received the “Master Craftsman” title by the craft guild. The call of Algonquin Park brought the Cooke family back to Canada in 2002, with David accepting the position of Head Chef at Arowhon Pines. For him, the move was like “coming home” to the kitchen where he had learned so much.

Over the past twenty years at Arowhon Pines, David has created a large network of farmers and foragers, on both sides of Algonquin Park, to supply the majority of Arowhon Pines’ summer produce. For our guests, that means the freshest possible local vegetables — fruits, meats, and fish, supplemented with herbs and edible flowers from the grounds and foraged wild produce!

During the winter, David is a chef instructor for the faculties of Culinary Management and Food and Nutrition Management at Algonquin College, at the Ottawa campus.  David, along with the Arowhon kitchen team, are involved in the Canadian Culinary Championships in Ottawa, taking the position of “Chef Liaison” - organizing, judging, and facilitating the competitor’s actions in the kitchen during the competitions.  He is also involved in many food charities in the city.

David’s cooking style has developed over years of travel, but his cooking principles have never changed.  Find the freshest possible ingredients, and keep it simple and bold with clearly defined flavors.

 “Everything on a plate should be delicious on its own, and together they should have the ability to make the diner emotional!”


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