Writing reflecting justice, the natural world, food, fitness, fabric, and things handmade.
A lifelong athlete, dee runs half-marathons, walks, swims, and has a daily yoga practice. For fun, she turns to quilting and sewing, cooking, painting, growing orchids and vegetables, and betting on the ponies at the track. She loves dancing, crossword puzzles, good coffee, better wine, mysteries and period movies, books and reading, folk music, R&B and bluegrass, her kids, dog, partner, family, friends, and the natural world. She is the proud mother of two adult sons who are fabulous cooks. dee Hobsbawn-Smith and her husband, the poet and writer Dave Margoshes, live rurally west of Saskatoon, in Treaty Six Territory, home of the Cree, Lakoda, Dakota, Nakoda, Dene, and the traditional home of the Metis Nation.
Growing up in an Air Force family as an athlete with horses as her closest companions, dee thought she’d be an Olympic equestrian, a vet… or maybe a journalist. In the end, after a peripatetic childhood, living on or near airbases across Canada and overseas, she left the family farm in Saskatchewan where her parents had settled, and decided to become a chef. She attended a fulltime program at Vancouver Vocational Institute; completed her apprenticeship and earned her Red Seal at Calgary’s Southern Alberta Institute of Technology/SAIT; travelled with her husband and their nine-month-old babe in arms to study with Madeleine Kamman at her graduate-chef-level cooking school in Annecy, France; and attended Darina Allen’s professional cooking school at Ballymaloe, East County Cork, Ireland.
In Calgary, dee worked as a cook, then started a family. She founded her catering company, Foodsmith, in the 1980s, then she and her husband purchased a small restaurant in 1992 and gave it the same name. Foodsmith was highly regarded for its innovative menus and stellar food. As chef, true to her training from Madame Kamman, dee featured the names of “her” growers and farmers on her restaurant’s daily evolving menus – more than a decade before the term “locavore” entered the culinary lexicon. Foodsmith’s influential but short-lived regional cuisine was among the vanguard that changed how Calgarians ate. But with two small children and her own health issues, dee and her husband decided to sell Foodsmith in 1994.
In 1996, Gail Norton, owner of The Cookbook Co Cooks in Calgary, asked dee if she’d like to lead a farmgate tour of city folks traveling to the country to meet their farmers, and so was born the “Foodie Tootles Annual Farm-Gate Tour”. Once a year, dee researched, organized, and hosted day-long culinary ag-tourism road trips in a big yellow school bus, taking the public to local working farms & ranches around Alberta. These popular tours sowed the seeds for dee’s ongoing deep relationships with the farmers and growers who fed her. The Tootles included snacks and goods for purchase at each stop, and supper, cooked by dee and their hosts, at the final destination. dee led the Tootle until 2010, when she handed it over to foodie entrepreneur and writer Karen Anderson.
Between 2001 and 2010, dee’s unique knowledge of the local food system of restaurateurs, producers, and growers made her a valuable resource, and she consulted to the Alberta government’s Agriculture and Rural Development (AARD) department. She provided insight and information on local food systems and distribution issues, agri-tourism, land and water issues, and organizations that support local producers, from Slow Food to Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs). During this time, she researched, organized, and hosted industry round table and panel presentations; organized and led culinary media tours; researched and wrote reports on provincial culinary anthropology; researched and designed province-wide self-guided driving tours; composed a handbook on conducting successful farm festivals; analyzed and reported on the current provincial state of regional cuisine; researched culinary tourism and screened potential ‘local fare’ restaurant participants for Dine Alberta’s ‘local foods in local restaurants’ initiative.
At the same time, Slow Food arrived in Calgary, and dee signed on, pleased to find an organization with similar values – good, clean, fair, local food for all. dee’s commitment to local agriculture and sustainable foods led her to take an active and leading role in Slow Food from its earliest stages, first in Calgary and later in Saskatoon, where she was a co-founder. She is Past Chair of both Slow Food Saskatoon and Slow Food Calgary, and served on the Terra Madre nomination committee in Calgary, and attended Terra Madre in Torino, Italy, in 2008. She served on the steering committees of both Calgary and Saskatoon, spoke publicly on Slow Food’s behalf, and delivered an annual Slow New Year’s address to members – over dinner, of course. dee attended the national conference several times – a high point was the year Italian Slow Food leader and co-founder Carlo Petrini purchased four of the handmade poetry chapbooks dee had made as a fundraiser for Slow Food Saskatoon. In 2016, Slow Food Canada honoured dee with the designation of Slow Food Hero.
In 1995, with her restaurant life behind her, dee became a busy culinary educator when her friend Gail Norton moved her shop, The Cookbook Co Cooks, into bright new digs with a kitchen. dee became one of the school’s lead instructors in hands-on and demonstration formats at public classes, private classes, and team-building corporate events. She worked as assistant alongside some of the era’s brightest culinary lights, among them Hugh Carpenter, Deborah Madison, Madeleine Kamman, Diana Kennedy, Bonnie Stern, and John Ash. Between 1995 and 2010, she taught thousands of Albertans the nuts and bolts of cooking methods, ingredients, knife skills, food and wine pairings, and food culture, and was described by students as a teacher “blessed with precision and whimsy.” As a chef who believed in giving people the practical tools to produce good food in a stress-free and relaxed manner, she specialized in culinary techniques (particularly knife skills) and flavour principles. She was especially fond of Indian fare, vegetarian and seasonal cuisine utilizing local producers, and the robust uncomplicated dishes of Spain, France, and Italy. She became a respected mentor to chefs, cooks and writers. Her teaching expanded to include annual kids’ summer cooking camps.
FREELANCE FOOD WRITING
After selling Foodsmith in 1994, dee started writing about food. Her first articles appeared in Calgary’s City Palate magazine in 1994; she would write regularly for the Palate until 2010. She wrote about local growers and Foodie Tootles in Alberta and beyond, but also about issues, ingredients, equipment, tools, chefs and cooks, Slow Food and CSAs, kitchen kids, men in the kitchen, and many, many recipes. Over the years she wrote food articles for a number of magazines, including Alberta Views, Avenue, Calgary, Canadian Living, Flavours, Northwest Palate, Western Living, West, and others.
Drawing on her restaurant and catering experience, dee published her first book, Skinny Feasts, in 1997. The Quick Gourmet followed two years later; both were national bestsellers. After her marriage ended in 2000, she attended the Greenbriar Writers Symposium in West Virginia to sharpen her food writing chops.
In 2001, dee became a weekly freelance culinary columnist and regular food features writer for the Calgary Herald. She adopted the handle of “the Curious Cook” with a wide mandate to explore cooking, profile growers, chefs and cooks, kitchen science, cooking methods, the food of new arrivals, hunger and sustainability, regionalism, local food-distribution systems, land and water access, animal welfare, farm labour, organics and biodynamics, agri-tourism, and organizations from Slow Food to Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), with emphasis on Western Canada and Alberta, including photo credits. Many of her columns and features were picked up and carried by many other papers in the Southam chain. Her third book, The Curious Cook at Home, based on her columns, came out in in 2003, and was a national success. In 2008, she published Shop Talk, a culinary resource guide that combined her interest in supporting local growers with the challenge of sourcing ingredients in a city of diverse ethnic and cultural residents. dee’s relationship with the Calgary Herald ended in 2008, when the Canwest newspaper chain let go of many freelance writers.
LIFELONG LEARNING AND LITERARY EDUCATION
In 2005, on the advice of a poet-friend, dee attended Sage Hill Writing for the first time in the Qu’Appelle Valley of southern Saskatchewan. At Sage Hill, she met more poets, and encountered the magic of the writing community and workshops, and the power of writing in rural retreats. Her first poem was published in 2007. A year later, dee attended a writing retreat at the Banff Centre, and met Dave Margoshes, a Regina-based poet, writer, and journalist. Sparks flew. After a long-distance courtship of several years’ duration, dee and Dave moved in together, and relocated to her family’s farm west of Saskatoon in the summer of 2010. A year later, a flood engulfed much of their farm. For seven years, they lived next to a virtual lake, in the company of shorebirds and waterfowl, all of which provided ample grist for dee’s writing mill.
dee immersed herself fulltime in the world of writing fiction, essays, and poetry. She joined a writing group, and returned to Sage Hill repeatedly. In 2012, dee published Foodshed: An Edible Alberta Alphabet, in tribute to her long-time sustainably-minded farm and ranch friends in Alberta. It received Best Food Literature Book (Canadian English-language) at the 2013 Gourmand World Cookbooks Awards; Best Culinary Book, 2013 High Plains Book Awards; and 3rd prize, 2014 Les Dames D’Escoffier M.F.K. Fisher Award for Excellence in Culinary Writing,.
A lifelong learner, dee returned to university in her 50s and again in her 60s. She earned an MFA in Writing in 2014 at the University of Saskatchewan. Wildness Rushing In, dee’s first poetry collection, was published in 2014, followed a year later by her first short story collection, What Can’t Be Undone. With a new book idea in mind, dee earned an MA in English Lit in 2021. Her Master’s thesis explored gender and genre in MFK Fisher’s translation of Brillat-Savarin’s 1825 classic, The Physiology of Taste.
In 2021, she published a collection of essays titled Bread & Water, a deeply personal memoir and mediation on food, family, place, and love, and was awarded the Saskatchewan Book Awards University of Saskatchewan President’s Office Nonfiction Award. It is a finalist for Taste Canada Book Awards’ Culinary Narrative Award. In 2022, her first novel, Danceland Diary, which arose from her MFA in Wiring creative thesis, was published. Her second poetry collection, Among the Untamed, will be published in 2023.
dee is a highly regarded and active member of the writing community. She taught creative writing at St. Peter’s College, in Muenster, Saskatchewan, served as poetry editor for Grain magazine for three years, and was the 35th Writer in Residence at the Saskatoon Public Library. For three years running, she led Sage Hill Writing’s summertime week-long writing workshop camp for teens. Her reputation as a generous and inspiring educator dates back to her decades of teaching cooking in Calgary, where she was recognized as a teacher “blessed with precision and whimsy.” Her literary teaching offers the same quirky, detailed, and deeply involved focus. She has mentored many writers, and offers writing workshops on a variety of craft-based topics, only some of which include any mention of food.
Beyond writing her own poems, essays, and fiction, dee has also edited five non-fiction books for several Canadian presses: Saskatoon: City of Bridges by Amy Jo Ehman; Moose Jaw: Tunnel City by Mary Bishop Harelkin; Every Day We Disappear by Angela Long; The Evolution of the Provincial Court of Saskatchewan by Amy Jo Ehman; and Finding My Way: A Memoir by Lois Simmie. She also produced and edited Food Works: plums in the ice box, a food poetry chapbook that features the work of 23 Saskatchewan poets. It is hand-bound-bound and hand-stitched, a limited-edition poetry chapbook designed as a fundraiser for Slow Food
dee is a talented and engaging public speaker, and has addressed food conference, literary conferences, and many things in between. She is member of the Writers Union of Canada, The League of Canadian Poets, Slow Food, and the Saskatchewan Writers Guild. She writes a regular food column for Grainews, which is read by thousands of Western Canadian farmers and ranchers. dee’s wide-ranging and peripatetic life and inspiration extends from her passion for handmade in many forms – quilting, cooking, writing, sewing, gardening – to ongoing commitment to personal wellness and fitness, and social and environmental causes.
A lifelong athlete, dee runs half-marathons, walks, swims, and has a daily yoga practice. For fun, she turns to quilting and sewing, cooking, painting, growing orchids and vegetables, and betting on the ponies at the track. She loves crossword puzzles, good coffee, better wine, mysteries and period movies, books and reading, folk music, R&B and bluegrass, animals, and the natural world. She is the proud mother of two adult sons who are fabulous cooks. dee Hobsbawn-Smith and her husband, the poet and writer Dave Margoshes, live in Treaty Six Territory, home of the Cree, Lakoda, Dakota, Nakoda, Dene, and the traditional home of the Métis Nation.
Who dee is and what she believes
“Hobsbawn-Smith’s writing is generous, loving, and nostalgic without being saccharine. Most importantly, she shows that food is more than what we eat.”
~ Sarah Ramsey, Quill & Quire
[Wildness Rushing In] “shows flashes of brilliance rare in a first collection.”
~ Saskatchewan Book Awards’ jurors.
“dee is a teacher blessed with precision and whimsy.”
~ Student, Cookbook Co Cooks, Calgary
“The food wasn't [suffering]. Foodsmith had the most unusual menu around, thanks to chef-owner dee Hobsbawn-Smith’s many creative variations on Canadian cuisine… one of Calgary`s finest chefs.”
~ Sydney Sharp and Don Braid, Calgary Herald
“dee Hobsbawn-Smith does it all—award-winning poetry, essays, fiction, and journalism.”
~ Kerry Clare, 49th Shelf
~ SK Book Awards Nonfiction Jury
“Food tours hosted by the extremely well-informed and charming dee Hobsbawn-Smith.”
~ Liane Faulder, The Edmonton Journal
“Foodsmith is not at all about being trendy or cool. As the name of the restaurant suggests, Hobsbawn-Smith is a culinary craftsperson. She creates good food, full of layers of flavour, individualistic, adventurous, big on herbs and Canadian content.”
~ Kathy Richardier, Calgary Herald
“Well-seasoned cookbook author, dee Hobsbawn-Smith, is much more than a recipe maker and chef extraordinaire. She is also a terrific writer and witty storyteller.”
~ Kathy Richardier, Publisher/Editor of Calgary’s City Palate
“Hobsbawn-Smith is a passionate advocate for supporting local chefs, producers and growers in the collective making of food.”
~ Barbara Balfour, Sudbury Star
“dee is a woman of many talents. Talents that may boggle the mind of the average Joe, being a chef, author, educator, consultant, advocate and poet.”
~ Jenn Sharp, Saskatoon Star Phoenix
“An author, an artist, a cook, a thinker."
~ Anita Stewart, Member of the Order of Canada, Culinary Activist, Author, and Founder of Food Day Canada
“Hobsbawn-Smith belongs to the same vaulted (sic) company as the iconic American food writer, M.F.K. Fisher.”
~ Patricia Dawn Robertson, Winnipeg Free Press
Praise and publications
Among the Untamed: Poems (2023, Frontenac House)
Danceland Diary: A Novel (Radiant Press, 2022)
Bread & Water: Essays (2021, U of R Press)
~ Winner, 2022 Saskatchewan Book Awards, University of Saskatchewan President’s Office Nonfiction Award
~ Gold Medal, Culinary Narratives category, 2022 Taste Canada Book Awards
~ 2nd prize, 2014 John V. Hicks Long Manuscript Award
~ Finalist, 2022 Saskatchewan Book Awards, City of Saskatoon Award
Jeanne Dark comes of age on the prairie (Espresso Chapbooks, summer 2019)
Wildness Rushing In: Poems (Hagios Press, 2014)
~ Finalist, Saskatchewan Book Awards Book of the Year.
~ Finalist, Saskatchewan Book Awards Best Poetry Collection.
Foodshed: An Edible Alberta Alphabet (TouchWood Editions, 2012.)
~ Gold Medallist, Best Food Literature Book (Canadian English-language) category of the 2013 Gourmand World Cookbooks Awards.
~ Best Culinary Book, 2013 High Plains Book Awards
~ 3rd prize, 2014 Les Dames D’Escoffier M.F.K. Fisher Award for Excellence in Culinary Writing, book category
Shop Talk: The Open-All-Hours Insider’s Guide to Finding Great Ingredients in Calgary, the Bow Valley and Beyond (Last Impression Publishing, 2008)
~ Nominee, Cuisine Canada national book awards, Food Culture, 2009
The Curious Cook At Home: Recipes & Secrets From An Adventurous Chef (Whitecap, 2004)
~ Nominee, Cuisine Canada national book awards, best cookbook, 2004
The Quick Gourmet (Whitecap, 2000)
Skinny Feasts (Whitecap, 1997)
dee’s poetry and prose has appeared in the following literary journals:
The Antigonish Review, blue skies, Canadian Literature, Creative Nonfiction, CV2, Event, Freefall, Fieldstone Review, Gastronomica, Grain, The New Quarterly, Prairie Fire, Queen’s Quarterly, Room, The Society, The Quint, Vallum, untethered, The Windsor Review, The Malahat Review, The Antigonish Review, FreeFall, Numero Cinq (www.numerocinqmagazine.com).
She has been published in the following magazines:
AirLines, Alberta Views, Avenue, Calgary’s City Palate, CalgaryInc., Calgary YMCA, Canadian Living, CityScope, Flavours, Foodservice and Hospitality, Gourmet Mountain Living, Grainews, Harrowsmith Country Life, Northwest Palate, On Campus News, Planet S, Prairie Dog, SAIT Alumni Link, Swerve, U of S Green & White, Western Producer, WestWorld, Western Living, West, Wine Access
She has been published in the following newspapers:
The Calgary Herald, Edmonton Journal, The Montreal Gazette, Ottawa Citizen, Regina Leader Post, The Saskatoon Star Phoenix, The Vancouver Sun, The Vancouver Province, Victoria Times Colonist, The Windsor Star, and smaller subsidiary papers.
Resistance: U of R Press, Sue Goyette, ed., 2021)
Life of Pie: prairie poems and prose (Rolling Pins Press, eds. Ivan Sundal and Myrna Garanis, 2020)
release any words stuck inside of you II: Canadian Flash Fiction and Prose Poetry (Applebeard Books, eds. Nicole Haldupis and Geoff Pevlin, 2019)
release any words stuck inside of you: An untethered Collection of Shorts (Applebeard Editions, eds. Nicole Haldupis and Geoff Pevlin, 2018)
Line Dance (Burton House Books, Gerald Hill, ed., 2016)
Wilf Perreault: In the Alley/Dans la Ruelle: (Coteau Books, Dave Margoshes, ed., 2014)
None and All of This is True (GritLit 2012)
Seek It: Writers and Artists Do Sleep (Red Claw Press, 2012)
Entanglements: New Eco-poetry ed. Sharon Blackie & David Knowles (Two Ravens Press, New Hebrides, Scotland, 2012)
The Challenge of Three (GritLIT 2010)
Pith & Wry Canadian anthology, ed. Susan McMaster (Your Scrivener Press), 2010
Nomfiction: A Nonfiction Anthology About Food (Amanda Leduc and Troy Palmer, eds., Little Fiction|Big Truths, 2016)
Dishing: Calgary Women Cook (Whitecap, 2001)
Double Dishing: The Dishing Women Entertain (Whitecap, 2002)
~ Finalist, Cuisine Canada national book awards, best cookbook, 2003
Shellfish, The Cookbook; Halibut, The Cookbook; Salmon, The Cookbook; Salad Dressing 101 (all Whitecap); The Best of City Palate (City Palate Publishing)
On Cooking: A Textbook of Culinary Fundamentals 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th , 5th & 6th Editions (Prentice Hall, Canadian Edition, 1994, 1999, 2003, 2007, 2012, 2013)
Saskatoon: City of Bridges by Amy Jo Ehman (MacIntyre Purcell Press, 2017)
Moose Jaw: Tunnel City by Mary Bishop Harelkin (MacIntyre Purcell Press, 2017)
Every Day We Disappear by Angela Long (Radiant Press, 2018)
The Evolution of the Provincial Court of Saskatchewan by Amy Jo Ehman (Friesen’s Press, 2018)
Finding My Way: A Memoir by Lois Simmie (Coteau Books, Fall 2019)
Food Matters: plums in the icebox (chapbook, Dogpatch Press, 2015)
Taught creative writing at St. Peter’s College, in Muenster, Saskatchewan
Served as poetry editor for Grain magazine, 2016-18.
Served as 35th Writer in Residence at Saskatoon Public Library, 2015-16.
Facilitated Sage Hill Writing’s summertime week-long writing workshop camp for teens, 2014-16.
Named a Slow Food Hero by Slow Food Canada, 2018.
Foodsmith, her short-lived but influential restaurant, 1992-94, one of the first in Calgary to feature local producers.
Foodsmith, innovative custom catering company, 1987-2000, Calgary
Organized and facilitated Foodie Tootles bus tours, 1996-2010, farmgate ag-tourism, southern and central Alberta
Culinary educator, 1987-2010
Slow Food leader, Calgary and Saskatoon, 2003-2018
Regular contributor, Calgary’s City Palate magazine, 1995-20010
Slow Food leader, Calgary and Saskatoon, 2003-2018
Freelance writer, 1995-present.
Freelance weekly food columnist (“The Curious Cook”) and features writer, The Calgary Herald, 20001-08
Nominated 35 Albertan delegates to attend Slow Food Terra Madre, Torino, Italy, 2008.
Attended Slow Food Terra Madre, Torino, Italy, 2008.
Red Seal journeyperson cook designation, 1985.
Taught thousands of Albertan adults and children how to cook, 1994 -2010
Culinary travels in Spain, France, Italy, Ireland, USA, Canada
Ballymaloe Cookery School, East County Cork, Ireland
“Developing A Cuisine Personelle", with Madeleine Kamman, Annecy, France
Completed Professional Cook Training Programme, Vancouver Vocational Institute, Vancouver BC
Professional assistant to visiting Chef‑Instructors, Culinary Arts/Benkris Cooking School, Calgary AB (Jacques Pepin, Madeleine Kamman, Diana Kennedy, Deborah Madison)
Completed Canadian Red Seal Journeyman Cook Apprenticeship Programme, SAIT Polytechnic, Calgary AB
Food Handling Safety & Sanitation Certification; Wine seminars; Kitchen Workshops with Jamie Kennedy, chef, JK at ROM, Toronto, ON; Anne Desjardins, chef/owner, L’eau a la Bouche, Quebec; John Bishop, owner, Bishop’s, Vancouver, BC; Deborah Madison, chef/author, Santa Fe, NM
Athlete of the Year, WW Brown High School, 1974.
MVP, Basketball, 1974.
Western Canada Summer Games, SK Equestrian Team, Combined Event, 1975.
EY River Run 5k race, Saskatoon, 2016.
Beaver Flat 10k Trail Race, Saskatchewan Landing, 2016.
Beaver Flat Half Marathon Trail Race, Saskatchewan Landing, 2018.
Vancouver Half Marathon,2018.
Brain Freeze Half Marathon, Saskatoon, 2019.
Run Like a Diva Half Marathon, Calgary, 2019.
SK Half Marathon, 2019.
Beaver Flat Half Marathon Trail Race, Saskatchewan Landing, 2019.
2022 return to running after injury and rehab, 2021.
MFA in Writing, 2014, University of Saskatchewan.
MA in English Lit, 2021, University of Saskatchewan.
“Bread & Water is an emotionally arresting, beautifully written series of essays.”
~ Jurors’ Citation, Saskatchewan Book Awards, University of Saskatchewan President’s Office Nonfiction Award
“Food is a wonderful agent for storytelling... and Bread & Water demonstrates this brilliantly.”
~ Sarah Ramsey, starred review, Quill & Quire
“[Bread & Water is] An amazing feast... riveting... eloquent.”
~ Patricia D. Robertson, Winnipeg Free Press
“[Bread & Water is a] sensuous experience; she brings her poet’s eye and ear to everything within her purview.”
~ Professor emerita Kathleen Wall, Blue Duets
“A deep love of the art of cooking that includes the language of fine dining (cassoulet, confit) even if the lamb was raised in Olds and she picked the rhubarb herself... she impressively manages this collision of worlds with a wholesome, approachable style.”
~ Megan Clark, Alberta Views
“These finely focussed poems [in Wildness Rushing In] invite us into a sensuous and emotionally rich landscape.”
~ Don McKay, winner of the Griffin Poetry Prize
“The writing [in Wildness Rushing In] is honed and textured, the senses so alive that you can practically taste the language. There are moments of brilliance rare in a first book.”
~ Jurors’ Citation, Saskatchewan Book Awards
“dee Hobsbawn-Smith’s stories [in What Can’t Be Undone] are written with a poetic edge. Her descriptions, particularly western landscapes, are often luxurious, lending themselves a kind of nuanced impression, a delicate fingerprint on the reader’s mind. "
~ Lee Kvern, Alberta Views
“[Foodshed is] A rich encyclopedia of facts, farm-gate lore and original recipes... a politically engaging narrative in which Hobsbawn-Smith articulates the challenges and joys faced by small-scale producers... don’ t let the alphabet theme fool you. This is no tame nursery rhyme; it is a locavore call to arms.”
~ P.D. Robertson, The Globe & Mail