Remembering John Schmied

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MISSISSAUGA, Ont. — John Schmied, former chairman and national president of the Canadian Federation of Chefs de Cuisine (CCFCC), passed away peacefully Jan. 7, leaving a legacy of service to the Canadian culinary community.

Born in Meiringen, Switzerland, Schmied began his career as a 15-year-old apprentice cook at the Hotel Angleterre in Geneva. He was also drafted into the Swiss military, serving as a company cook. Following the war, Schmied joined the high-profile Grand Hotel in Stockholm, Sweden, working as poissonier.

Schmied came to Canada following an 11-month duty in the first-class kitchen of the passenger liner Gripshölm, which ran the Stockholm-New York City route. Eventually, he worked his way through first-class restaurants in Quebec to the position of head chef of Ruby Foo’s French Kitchen in Montreal during its heyday in the 1950s. In 1961, John joined the T. Eaton Company in Montreal, before transferring to Toronto in 1969.

Active in the Canadian Federation of Chefs de Cuisine, Schmied was elected president from 1968 to1969 and served on numerous culinary-based Boards and committees. In 1968, he became a member of the premier CCFCC Team Canada, which competed in the Ika Hoga World Culinary Olympics in Frankfurt, Germany, endorsed by the World Association of Cooks Societies. It was a milestone event and put Canada on the world culinary stage. Later, CCFCC teams, and many individual members, competed and won global competitions, including the Ika Hoga World Champions in 1984 and 1992. Schmied was closely involved for many years with the Canadian teams, travelling abroad and participating in various positions.

Schmied’s role at WACS was cemented in 1974 when the organization held its first by-annual Congress in Banff Canada, attracting more than 300 delegates and featuring two weeks of pre- and post-conference tours that took delegates from B.C. to Newfoundland. Organized largely by Schmied and then CCFCC president Hans Bueschkens, the former travelled with the visitors across Canada, hosting the group at events. Eventaully, he was named an honorary member of “la Societé des Cuisiniers de Paris” and other national chefs’s associations in Israel, Germany and Hungary.

Schmied also contributed to two well-respected books honouring Canadian chefs and cuisine — the 84-page Canadian Menu Manual (published in 1975) and the 210-page Culinary Canada (published in 1984 by F&H magazine). Designed to honour Canadian chefs and the development of Canadian cuisine, the books highlight more than 500 original Canadian recipes created by more than 80 chefs, including award-winning creations that earned Canada gold medals at International competitions.

After leaving the T. Eaton Company, Schmied held senior positions at places such as CN Hotels and York-Hanover Hotels. Following retirement, he remained active with the Canadian Executive Services Oversees (CESO), acting as a consultant to hotel and restaurant operators in Sri Lanka, Guyana, Estonia and Russia.

The funeral service for the late culinary icon was held Saturday in Mississauga, Ont. Husband to Gertrud Zweifel (Feb. 6, 1923 to June 7, 2001) for almost 47 years, he was father to Béatrice, Chris, John Peter and Andrew, as well as grandfather to seven grandchildren. Donations in his name may be made to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, the Canadian Cancer Society or the Diabetes Association.

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