In honour of Chef Appreciation Week, September 10th – 16th, Foodbuy Canada is proud to showcase the extraordinary chefs from across our various business sectors. We’re giving you an exclusive glimpse into their careers, hear about their remarkable journeys, and discover their unwavering passion for their craft.

We believe that great people inspire great food. It’s important we take time to celebrate the incredible talents of these wonderful people.

One of these incredible chefs is Chef Warren Alley who works for SPG, a division of Extendicare Canada. Extendicare is one of the largest long-term and home care providers in Canada. They are a recognized leader in providing quality health care services that includes skilled nursing care, home health care, retirement living, and management and consulting services.

Chef Warren, a true Toronto native, was born and raised in the heart of Scarborough. From a young age, He demonstrated a strong curiosity in all things culinary, fueling his passion for the world of food and beverages. Whether it was embarking on a grocery adventure or indulging in the finest dining experiences, his interest in the culinary arts were endless. During his spare time, Chef Warren thrived in team sports such as hockey and baseball, igniting a deep appreciation for fast-paced and collaborative environments.

It wasn’t until a guidance counselor in his last year of high school introduced him to the culinary industry, sparking his passion for cooking. Following their recommendation, Warren enrolled in the Hotel Management program at George Brown College, where he immersed himself in cooking demos and educational practicum sessions. Learning from his professors, who were accomplished Chefs themselves, Warren knew he wanted to follow in their footsteps.

The first 11 years of his career were spent working at private golf courses and many notable casual fine dining restaurants. As his career progressed, he wanted to try something different and was fortunate enough to open an Amica location in Newmarket in 2006. 

Today, Warren’s primary function is working in food procurement, menu development and operational support for SPG and Extendicare. Although the healthcare industry wasn’t where Warren started his career, he explained that it’s been a great choice given the amazing opportunities he’s experienced. 

We asked Chef Warren what keeps him motivated to continue doing what he does. He told us that his biggest motivation is the team he gets to work daily. Their work environment is not only structured for success, but also fosters personal growth, development, and creativity. 

“Everyone brings their own unique energy and passion to the table, which fuels our collective dedication to serving seniors across Canada every single day.”

Warren and his team take immense pride in their leadership position in the healthcare sector. Their decisions have a direct impact on the well-being of their clients. However, their commitment to their community goes beyond their professional responsibilities. One remarkable way they contribute is through their annual Extendicare golf tournament, which successfully raised an astonishing $200,000 for the Alzheimer’s Society of Canada.

Working in the healthcare industry has been both challenging and rewarding for Warren. He reflects on the tremendous impact of understanding staffing and logistical issues, which have proven to be one of the most pressing challenges. Additionally, understanding the unique needs of each of their clients can be difficult and prompts thoughtful consideration on how to effectively meet their needs.

“As you can imagine, working with seniors in LTC and retirement can be quite challenging, since many of our clients have dietary restrictions such as gluten-free, dairy-free, etc. Some residents also request specific foods over others, so we will try to procure from our vendors solutions that we can provide and pass onto our homes and customers alike. We are fortunate to partner with Foodbuy as they have access to some products that residents require such as thickened fluids, supplements, and other resources that we can offer.

We want to be able to provide the best food items possible for every home and tailor them to meet their budget. That being said, we are working on 3 menus at SGP (2 retirement menus and 1 LTC menu) and our goal is that our members and customers can utilize what best fits into their food budget.”

Lastly, we asked Chef Warren to tell us what cooking has taught him. He explained that cooking has not only taught him valuable life skills but has also transformed him into a versatile individual. As a cook, he embraces the roles of an accountant, scientist, planner, and decision-maker, all while striving to create the most extraordinary meal within a given time frame. His best piece of advice is to hire people that have better skill sets than you do and treat everyone as equals.

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