🕘 Aug 11th, 2022

In kitchen terms, she’s no Lazy Susan.


For more than 40 years, our Founder, President and multi-hyphenate Susan Mendelson has carved out an enviable reputation as an author, mentor, entrepreneur, chef and culinary trendsetter as she built a side gig into a catering empire.

She first dipped her toe in the foodservice and hospitality industry while managing the house at the Vancouver East Cultural Centre — or The ‘Cultch, as it’s more locally known — and selling hand-made Nanaimo bars, carrot cake and cheesecake during intermissions as a side gig to help pay her tuition at UBC.

Little did she know it at the time, but she was sowing the seeds for The Lazy Gourmet.

She started catering opening-night parties at The Cultch where guests quickly took note of her culinary creativity. After a recommendation from one of them to apply for a Local Initiative Program grant and learn the ins and outs of the catering business, she landed her first big assignment — providing the food for a Children’s Festival that hosted more than 350 performers and thousands of guests in the summer of 1979.

“By the end of the week, I was completely exhausted but had found my calling,” she says.

From there, it’s been a bit of a whirlwind.

All the way back to her time at The Cultch, she’s been a frequent guest on TV and radio (check out her latest appearance on CBC’s On The Coast with Gloria Macarenko here). She authored her first cookbook, ‘Mama Never Cooked Like This’, in 1980, and has gone on to release nine more, including The Official Cookbook of Expo ’86. In 2019, she was lauded by The New York Times for her Nanaimo bar recipe, which was also included in novelist Margaret Atwood’s 1987 ‘Canlit Foodbook’ compilation of writing and recipes from Canadian authors.

Since then, Susan has built The Lazy Gourmet into a foodie empire and one of Canada’s top catering companies, providing its signature food and service at such high-profile events as the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, the PGA Tour and the Dalai Lama’s Peace Summit in 2009.

She was also recently singled out for praise in the 2022 edition of the Business in Vancouver BC500 List, which features leaders who have made a notable impact on BC’s communities, industry and economy.

Read more about Susan’s — and The Lazy Gourmet’s — amazing journey in a recent Metastate Newsletter here.

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