Even though that friendly face who provides you with cooking tips at Overwaitea has not lived in Golden very long, Wolfgang Vogt is very much a part of the community.
He can often be found in the grocery store aisles, stocking shelves as he discusses evening meal plans with the customers. But it was many years ago in Germany where Vogt began his passion with cooking.
“I knew very young that I wanted to cook, and that I love traveling. So I began training at a culinary school at 16, and became a Red Seal Chef,” said Vogt.
After being certified, he left Germany and worked at a resort in Austria, before going onto Zurich to get more experience. These were just stepping stones, however, as Vogt always had something else in mind.
“I always knew I wanted to go to Canada… So I packed up my downhill skis, and my cross-country skis, and I arrived in Kelowna in 1973,” he said. “I celebrated my 21st birthday in Canada.”
He worked at a hotel in the Okanagan, and spent all his vacation time travelling up north.
“Some people would go to warmer places, but my interest in Canada was always the north, and the wildlife, so whenever my vacation time came up, I just headed up north,” said Vogt.
He saw Alaska, as well as the Northwest Territories and Yukon where he did some backpacking. After a few years, he went home to see his family in Germany, since he was an only child he was missed my his mother. But his time there was also spent travelling.
“By the time I was 25 I had probably been to every major capital city in Europe, from Oslo to Paris to Rome…I just used my hometown as a home base,” he said. He decided to blow whatever funds he had left on a trip to Mexico.
After about three months, he decided it was time to get back to work.
Vogt’s love was always in the mountains, so he settled in Banff and Lake Louise, where he spent the majority of his career. It is also the place where he met his wife.
As a highly sought after chef, he was able to be part of some major events including Expo 86. He was also one of only a handful of chefs in Canada who were asked to create the menu for Air Canada’s Business Class.
“We wanted to relax a bit, so we started looking for a place in the area, only a couple hours drive, where we could go on our days off… We found a nice little heritage home in the Parson area with 146 acres,” said Vogt.
The couple filled their home with “four-legged company” including dogs, cats and horses, and would come just on their days off for about seven years.
“We really enjoyed relaxing there…Then my wife decided she was going to just stay home. So for a while I would go to work for five days and come home to her, but I decided there was something wrong with this. I only lasted another year,” he said.
He decided to step back from work, and enjoy life on the other side of the mountain. That lasted for about a year, but soon Vogt found himself looking for something to do.
“I found myself getting bored, you can only walk the dogs for so long. I needed the interaction with people,” he said. So he set out looking for a part time job.
He found a place at Overwaitea where he could keep busy, get the interaction he was looking for, and still do something related to food. There was a transition period, as the new job was very different from his old one, but then it just took off.
“I really enjoy it. I get to know all the people in town… and once the people found out what business I used to be in, every day they would come and ask for cooking tips.”
After that, Vogt even wrote some cooking columns for The Golden Star.
Although Vogt is enjoying his work, the future holds much more travelling for him and his wife.
“Oh there’s still lots of stuff left on the bucket list,” he smiled.