Durvile Publications/

Authors’ Foreword

By Lorene Shyba and Barbara Bergen

Bernice Evans was, by profession, an eminent and controversial Calgary, Alberta food critic of the 1970s and early 1980s. She broadcast weekly restaurant reviews on CBC Radio, wrote food articles for Calgary Magazine, and commented on Calgary eateries for the annual national restaurant guide Where to Eat in Canada. Bernice was honest and outspoken, sometimes admired but often vilified by local restaurants and patrons. The finest feature of her work was that she was always true to the values of her well-honed palate.

In collaboration with her literary executor and husband CD Evans, we thoroughly explored and curated her culinary artistry for Elite Menus. We sifted through countless bankers boxes and three-ring binders discovering not only a trove of menus and recipes, but also many of her thoughtful essays about food.

In these essays, Bernice displayed an intellectual understanding about culinary arts. Food as an expression of culture or place is known in academic circles as “food rhetoric” and acknowledges the power of food and food ways to bring meaning to history and our social world.

As an example of this, in one essay she declared, “The oft-forwarded argument that any meal is a good one if it pleases the diner is not only naïve but patently flawed.” This statement helps explain the meticulous detail she put into the production of her famous dinner parties. These are far from just “any meal” — Bernice’s extravagant menus well-expressed the personality of her elite social scene of the day populated by lawyers, judges, politicians, scholars, and media moguls.

Back in the opulence of the eighties, Bernice prepared and served an elaborate and expensive series of Gentlemen’s Dinners for these society A-listers, and Romance Dinners for her husband. Her guests all remember her culinary art with hearty delight.

We have done our best to emulate two of Bernice’s multi-course menus. Some recipes are hers and some are ours, peppered with the panache of Bernice’s method and philosophy of food ways. Try them out and savour the experience. We certainly did!