The friendship between Canadians and Mexicans is a special one, and nowhere is it more unique than on the plate. To celebrate this relationship, the Mexico Tourism Board is presenting a special edition of the Gather dining series, with a Vancouver event at Fayuca on November 21, and a Calgary dinner at Pigeonhole on November 23.

Mexican chefs Jair Tellez and Hugo Duran will collaborate with their Canadian counterparts, Ernesto Gomez and Martin Vargas at Fayuca, and Justin Leboe at Pigeonhole, to create a five course dinner that brings together the flavours, indigenous ingredients, local produce and techniques of the two countries. As part of the cultural exchange experience, the Mexican chefs will get to visit markets, go foraging and meet local producers with their hosts to source the ingredients for each dinner. Also making the trip north will be Noel Tellez and Alonso Maldonado from Bichi, a Baja California winery producing natural wines using minimal intervention and traditional methods. A selection of the wines will be available as pairings at the dinners. 

Tickets for each of the two dinners are $77 per person (inclusive of gratuity but not taxes) which includes botanas (pre-dinner snacks), three savoury courses and dessert. Each menu will be omnivore with a plant-based option, and will be developed by the collaborating chefs upon arrival in each city so that they can incorporate local foraged, farmed and wild products. Specially paired beverage selections, including Bichi wines, will be available at an extra cost. T

About Gather
Created by Arrival Agency, Gather is a series of communal dinners that bring together some of Canada’s top restaurant talent cooking alongside visiting culinary stars. Originally created as an element of YVR Food Fest in Vancouver, these unforgettable meals allow for culinary and cultural exchange of ingredients and techniques in a relaxed atmosphere. Attendees can come with a group or come alone and leave with new friends. The goal of the Gather dinner series is to include different communities, generate dialogue and push boundaries around food culture. 



Hugo Duran

Hugo studied visual art at the school of painting, sculpture and engraving "La Esmeralda”. After an extended stay in Germany he traveled back to Mexico and taught himself how to cook. He worked in several restaurants in Mexico City and finally integrated himself as head chef of “Cocina Itinerante Pichon” (travelling pigeon cooking). Hugo Durand’s culinary work is based on the development of his personal culinary language and it is inspired on his travels, field research and study of bio-cultural diversity of Mexico’s centre region. He is what some would consider a nomadic chef.


Jair Tellez

Tellez began his professional training at the French Culinary Institute, which led to an apprenticeship at Daniel, where he stayed and worked for one year. He returned to México from New York, and while garnering success at Laja he was presented with the opportunity to open a restaurant in México City. Drawn to the city and a new set of challenges, Tellez began working on opening MeroToro in 2008. In 2016 he opens his second restaurant in Mexico City, Amaya, which has a focus on natural wine and El Zorro Plateado in Playa del Carmen, with a focus on wood fire cooking. In 2017 he opens Fayuca in Vancouver which is Mexican inspired with a focus on a free flow of ideas and flavours along the Pacific Coast. Inspired by the setting of both the rugged naturalism of Laja, the slick metropolis of MeroToro and Amaya, or on the pleasure of the unknown in Fayuca, Tellez embraces the polarity of the situation and maintains his identity as the sum of its parts.

Important development: Last Tuesday Laja was awarded the 42nd place on the San Pellegrino World’s 50 best restaurants from Latin America. So this man is Hot!


Justin Leboe

Chef Justin Leboe spent his early career learning in some of the most prestigious
kitchens in North America – from Daniel to French Laundry to name but a few. Refining
his skills throughout the US, Bermuda and Australia, Leboe’s travels and mentors helped
trigger his entrepreneurial spirit and in 2008 he shook up Calgary’s food scene with the
opening of Rush, which was placed on enRoute magazine’s coveted Best New
Restaurant list. Realizing he needed to leave the confines of fine dining behind, he
opened Model Milk in 2011; shifting his energy back to the basics – creating simple,
playful comfort food. Model Milk also landed on enRoute Magazine’s list in 2011. Four
years later, Leboe opened award-winning Pigeonhole in the same building; a genre-
bending natural wine bar with an emphasis on premeditated veggie-focused cuisine.
Also listed as enRoute’s Best New Restaurant in 2015, Pigeonhole is an extension of
Leboe’s travels and need to continuously elevate Calgary’s culinary scene. Recipient of
the coveted 2013 Pinnacle Award for Canadian Chef of the Year in 2013, and Canada’s
100 Best awards in 2016 for Most Innovative Chef, Leboe has helped raise the profile of
Calgary as a culinary destination.



The Vancouver edition of Gather is taking place at Fayuca in Yaletown (1009 Hamilton St.) which was called "possibly the most interesting restaurant to land in Yaletown in the last decade." by Andrew Morrisson of Scout and was recently nominated for Canada's Best New Restaurant, 2017  by EnRoute Magazine.enRoute Magazine


The Calgary edition of Gather is taking place at Pigeonhole, which recently cracked the top ten in the Canada's 100 Best Reatsrant rankings.