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Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Traveling Cowboys: Small Plates and Big Flavour at the Grande Brunch of Uncorked 2018 in Canmore, Alberta

Nine in a Row

For a town of fourteen thousand people, Canmore has so many restaurant choices that even if we eat at a different one every day, for a month, we still won't be able to try them all.

That is why we love our annual appointment with Andrew Nickerson and his team at Canmore's Uncorked Food Festival. The festival makes it easier to discover and enjoy the best Canmore's dining scene offers - restaurants we didn't know existed and dishes we haven't tried before. When we say the best, we don't only mean the food. We also suggest the people committed to promoting this great destination for culinary's sake. We applaud their effort.


It is our third year of involvement in the event. Spring is always a great time in the mountains. The Uncorked food festival seals the deal for a visit and an appointment with this lovely destination.

Canmore Uncorked is a multiple award-winning food festival that returns each May for eleven days of remarkable dining experiences. It is the opportunity for restaurants of the town to showcase what they have to offer and to entice diners to try something new. For patrons, it is a flavour gauntlet that stretches the imagination and the waistlines. It is a must-do!

One way we make the most of the experience is to attend the Grande Brunch. Nine restaurants come together in one location to offer delicious taster morsels. The newly opened Grande Kitchen and Bar hosted the event this year which took place the first Sunday of the festival.

We tried everything, which proved to be an overly ambitious task. The portions were just enough to entice us to do another visit at participating restaurants. Together, it made for an amazingly delicious and very fulfilling meal.


Food festivals are for patrons. Patrons come with friends to celebrate, eat, explore, experience, meet and have fun with plates of food, mugs of beer, and glasses of wine. It is a familiar promotional drawcard used by destinations to entice new customers to visit and discover more about local businesses partaking in the celebrations.

Vendors are given an opportunity to reach new customers, fill their restaurants and move their products. It is a great marketing opportunity - when done right. The organizers of food festivals have the delicate balancing act of assuring there is enough variety, volume and value for attendees to make it worthwhile attending, and for participating businesses and the destination to see a return in the short and longer term.

Here in lies the crux of a successful food festival. Participating businesses and the destination, as a whole, must go all-out or risk being relegated to just another irrelevant mee-too food event of which there are far too many already. Businesses should make the most of the chance and strive to out-do each another. Not just each other in town, but other festivals, elsewhere.

We all know that with the demise of Canmore's destination marketing organization the Canmore Uncorked festival was left on shaky ground. Cudos to Andrew and his team for seeing it through and keeping the festival going. Unfortunately, herein lies the problem. We are of the opinion that Canmore's establishments overall are still not getting that this is their opportunity. It should not be just an event that continues. It should be the pinnacle food event in the Rocky Mountains!

In 2018, a few die-hard businesses and some newcomers remain committed to the festival's success, and they are reaping some of the potential rewards. Unfortunately, the vast majority of Canmore's food scene remains missing in action, and as a result, the town risks losing the opportunity.

It is no longer the "great" festival it once was. A celebration is not, and should not be for immediate profit or gain. If it was, it would be called a market. A longer perspective and commitment should prevail. The festival is there for the purpose of building marketing and promotional momentum for the times of the year when there isn't a festival. Profit follows from this momentum, and the awareness, excitement and the discovery drawcard it lit in customers. Participating businesses should commit their resources to building momentum like they would have done through any other marketing or promotional effort.

Canmore should be lucky to still have Uncorked. We hope to see it grow again to the grand festival it was once before. Andrew has our commitment and our vote to make it work. Now, all we need is for more of Canmore's food establishments to realize that this is their opportunity and get behind it. We are hopeful that it will happen before it is too late.

Hendrik van Wyk
Uncorked Cowboy

We earn our livelihood by producing great content and supporting inspiring people, businesses, and communities. Please book us here so we can tell your story too. If you want to see us do more of these, then please forward the favour. We will use it for the next episode promoting a local business or event.


Yum, Yum!




Sunday, March 25, 2018

Traveling Cowboys: The Finer Nuances of a Boere Braai with the Two Cowboys in New Zealand

Die Boere Braai

South Africa is a funny place. Literally, if there is any disaster or depression at the Southern point of Africa, then the people of the country find a way to joke about it. One group notably developed comedy as a coping mechanism for their trials and tribulations. They are the Boere. The best place and time for their comedy is when they braai.

Boer is the Dutch and Afrikaans noun for "farmer". In the South African contexts, it also denotes the descendants of the then Dutch-speaking settlers of the eastern Cape frontier in Southern Africa during the 18th and much of the 19th century. A braai is their outside cooking event that brings people together. If you are a Boer, it is a daily sanctimonious ceremony of wisdom and ritual, closely tied to cultural identity.


The Boere of South Africa has a thirty-year head start on being marginalized in the country of their birth. The rest of Europe and the Western world is now slowly realizing the likelihood of it becoming their destiny as well. Today, the last part of the Boere nation's identity is under threat as the South African government moved to disown them from the farmland they've developed through generations, and owned and cultivated for centuries. It follows a decades-long systematic breakdown and distortion of their sovereignty, history, culture and unique language.

While this was happening, millions of Boere had no choice but to leave South Africa for safer shores and more secure future. Today, they are scattered throughout the world with Australia, New Zealand, USA and Canada the main enclaves where they've settled. Here, they committed to the futures and successes of their new hosts while building a future for their families. Their children are integrating to become Kiwi's, Aussies and Canucks and their language is heard less and less around the dinner table. However, one part of their culture remains. The continuation of the braai!

The Boere continues to braai and is more than willing to impart the ritual and wisdom to anyone keen on joining in. A few pre-requisites apply. Firstly, something needs to be cooked, preferably meat. Steak and chops are preferred. Beef and Lamb is the staple with Pork and Chicken as the vegetables. It can be done on a gas BBQ, however wood and coals are preferred.

Secondly, there need to be lots of beer. The more adventurous lubricate themselves with a drink commonly referred to as "spook & diesel" (Brandy and Coke). For the uninitiated, you will need training wheels before you dance with this devil. One thing is sure, bring your sense of humour. You will need it.


There are some unwritten and commonly agreed rules when embarking or joining in on a braai with Boere. Our video above shares some of this. For example, whoever has the tongs is in charge of cooking the meat. His reputation is at stake, and he takes the responsibility very seriously. No one else is allowed to touch it. If someone does, they immediately assume all responsibility for the food, which can become overbearing. Everyone else at the braai will instantly become an expert critic observing and commenting on your every move.

Over the next few weeks, we will impart a few more wisdom about the braai culture. We are heading to South Africa after a sixteen-year hiatus to see how it developed and to be schooled in some of the new customs and finer nuances of the braai nation.

Stay tuned for more.

Hendrik van Wyk
Boere Cowboy

We earn our livelihood by producing great content and supporting inspiring people, businesses, and communities. Please book us here so we can tell your story too. If you want to see us do more of these, then please forward the favour. We will use it for the next episode promoting a local business or event.




On the Road

Carft! Beer 
Hungry Boer

Monday, March 12, 2018

Traveling Cowboys: A Party in a Paddock at the 2018 Wairarapa Harvest Festival in New Zealand


Liz Pollock, the organiser of the annual Wairarapa Harvest Festival, referred to it as the party in a paddock. That was too modest. It was gourmet on the grass!

Sean Toohey of WilliamsWarn arranged with Liz for the last two highly sought-after media passes. The Cowboys were the lucky recipients. Now we could experience what rural New Zealand food festival life’s is all about. We were invited into the inner circle of rustic gastronomy. We thought we'd seen it all after covering countless food events around the globe. What we found was an absolute adventure in gourmet food and wine - in a paddock! It could easily have been a chef-hosted event on Granville Island. The produce, cooking and creativity were that good.


The event took place at the sheltered riverside setting known as “The Cliffs” on the banks of the Ruamahunga River. It is a remote setting, amongst vineyards and under ancient trees. Remote enough for a noisy pino-lubricated hunger party, but also close enough for Wellingtonians to make the trek up the road for a little culture. Masterton and Carterton are both a stone’s throw away.

If you go by the numbers, it is not a massive festival. Around twenty-three eateries and wineries participated in the day-long festivities. They hosted just over two-thousand hungry and thirsty patrons. The tickets are limited we were told, to keep the festival small and personal. Everyone is guaranteed a sampling of what was on offer. There indeed was enough food and wine for everyone. Chairs and tables were in short supply. Locals knew that, so they brought their chairs, blankets and picnic cutlery.

The event sold out within two hours of tickets going on sale. It happened months ago already. The Harvest Festival is not an event you will likely get to, as an outsider occasionally passing through New Zealand. As with many of these top-class occurrences, you have to rely on a local punter or sponsor within a secret food society, to part with a select few highly sought-after tickets for sneaking you into the inner gourmet circle of the best of New Zealand.

When it came to the food, they spared no expense. Only the best made it to the serving table. It offered nothing pretentious and everything hearty. Only the best fresh local ingredients made it into the dishes that included whitebait fritters, lamb pie, salted beef, spicy wedges and Pinot Noir. All were familiar favourites that came with a creative twist as the restaurants battled to outdo each other.


We've said it before. Food festivals must have lots of food. Far too often we’ve seen food festivals turn into taster festivals. At the Wairarapa Harvest Festival, they know how to throw a party with enough food and wine for everyone.

What stood out was the quality and variety of the produce and the lengths the businesses went to serve the perfect dish. Our favourite was the lamb cutlet pies and a little Pinot with the whitebait fritters and the Chardonnay a close second. It was simple and hearty and utterly the best of rural New Zealand.

Thank you for the invite Sean, and Liz. We would love to see you next year again!

Hendrik van Wyk
Food Festival Cowboy

We earn our livelihood by producing great content and supporting inspiring people, businesses, and communities. Please book us here so we can tell your story too. If you want to see us do more of these, then please forward the favour. We will use it for the next episode promoting a local business or event.


Getting the Wine


More Food!


That Pie!

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Two Cowboys: Never Again with the Travelling Cowboys in Canmore, Alberta, Canada

Never Again

We were flying back from New Zealand in the worse airplane seats imaginable, courtesy of Air New Zealand. Unfortunately, there isn't much choice in airline between Canada and New Zealand, so we had to suck it up, tuck it in, and ride it out to the land of the long white cloud.

When you feel discomfort, distractions are welcome. Our Scotch quota was limited, so we were cut off early by gramps, our in-flight safety officer and server attendant, so the trip became an early sobering experience - a time to reflect. The entertainment system had Anthony Bourdain featuring chefs in Japan, and the program threw out fashionable Zen quotes between scene changes. Then, I found what I was looking for. A straightforward, yet profound Zen quote caught my attention.

We were winding down our year two of the Two Cowboys. It was one last trip Downunder and we were taking stock of what we've managed to achieve since launching the brand. It couldn't have come at a better time. 


Someone once said that his biggest fear was reaching the end of his life, and meeting the person he could've been. This struck a profound chord with me three years prior, while on the corporate consulting treadmill in downtown Calgary, Alberta. Two things became glaringly obvious. What I was doing with my days held little personal value for me, and the days were passing alarmingly faster the older I got. I realized that I wasn't going to be the person I wanted or could be. Time for it was running out.

It spurred me to action that ultimately culminated in the launch of the Two Cowboys. My brother from a different father, my best friend - Braam Compton - and I launched the concept of the Two Cowboys in January 2016. My son Henry, the camera, joined us a few months later. (Hence, our website name as the Two Cowboys & A Camera -

The Two Cowboys experience is a means for us, to some important ends. There are key philosophies behind what we do. Firstly, it is an opportunity, after two decades of consulting and salaried employment, to call our career values and perspectives in question. For example, we question our commitment to the expected way of living as employees on a never-ending treadmill of financial dependence. Secondly, the Two Cowboys is an attempt to craft a flexible and more preferential lifestyle that allows us to get more out of the art of living. More adventures. More of the people we like. Better quality food, friendships and learning. More of the world. Thirdly, it is a chance to consciously choose every moment and personally weigh the merits of every action, interaction and opportunity.

Lastly, the Two Cowboys is a chance for growth. After publishing over three-hundred videos and blog posts in twenty-four months and producing even more for the people and businesses that partnered with us, we've inevitably learned a lot. We've learned about beer, brewing, hats, boots, soap, cooking, travelling, malting, art, goldsmithing, barbequing, baking, engineering, food trucking, distilling, fishing, filming, and the list goes on. We've met amazing people in Alberta, BC, Hawaii, Mexico and New Zealand. More destinations are coming and more experiences waiting. Most importantly, we've learned a lot about people with the 1,800 interviews we've done.

The most significant lesson we learned is to invest our valuable time in the people that reciprocate. We learned to care about the people that care about us.

The Zen quote I discovered that day on the flight back from New Zealand said, "Once in a lifetime, never again."


It struck me.

Because, while we were trying to achieve, build or understand, the ever-fleeting moments were still passing us by. In all the frenzy of activity, the days are still ticking, and we cannot confidently say that we are becoming more of what we can be. Ultimately, our moments are now just different moments with different activities, focus or motivation.

That is why we will be taking it slower in 2018. The Two Cowboys & A Camera will be more deliberate and more intentional. Every relationship we choose to have will be more valuable to us. Everything we do, more purposeful.

Because, it all happens once in a lifetime, then never again.

Hendrik van Wyk
Never Again Cowboy

We earn our livelihood by producing great content and supporting inspiring people, businesses, and communities. Please book us here so we can tell your story too.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Traveling Cowboys: Winging Wing Night in Canada - Finding the Perfect Wings and Beer with the Two Cowboys

Becoming Canadian

There are two ways how Canada let you in and accept you into its inner circle. No matter where you come from in the world, if you participate in these two sacred rites, you are Canadian! No, bashing the kid (Justin Trudeau) is not the way to do it.

The surest way to become Canadian is through a game of shinny (social ice hockey) with a few oldtimers. This is the hardest way to learn to understand Canada. Especially, when you are from a warm country and never learned to ice skate in the first place. With ice hockey, comes a unique language and an understanding of its people. An understanding that will continue to elude you unless you are willing to step into a stinky locker room, suit up with frozen hockey gear, lace up your skates and step onto the hockey ice. Don't ever expect to keep up. Instead, you are bound to become their comic relief in perpetuity. Canadians will respect you for it and you will have the bruises to prove it.

The second, and a less painful way (which is debatable) is when you are invited to wing night on hump day. This is a story about surviving wing night in Canada.


I realize that we may be using highly technical Canadian vernacular in this post. Therefore, before we go any further, we have to provide insight into the complicated concepts associated with the phenomena. Firstly, wing night is usually on hump day.

Hump day is the middle of a work week. It is usually Wednesday when your week starts on a Monday. The term is used in the context of climbing a proverbial hill to get through a tough week. After hump day, the weekend gets closer. Depending on your age and degree of attachment, it can also be your lucky day. However, if you do wing night on hump day, then your lucky day is probably on Sunday. The bottom line is, regardless of your luck, that hump day calls for a celebration. That is why you do wing night on hump day.

No one is sure when it started. I am not aware of any official society that sets policy or lay down the rules. However, it is commonly accepted that wing night is a ceremonial and sacred evening during which many chicken wings will be eaten by a gathering of gluttonous friends.

Each step of the preparation and consumption of the wings is carefully orchestrated and held holy. The recipes are kept secret by a devoted few man cave dwelling culinary experts that opt to prepare their own. Else, a local favourite watering hole is the likely destination of choice. Just because there is no formal fraternity, it doesn't mean there are no rules. Wing night comes with a rich tradition of ritual. Deviation from tradition is strictly and violently forbidden. For example, inviting your girlfriend, not eating until breathing is difficult and all wings are done, leaving early, not toasting the first wing, not getting everyone a beer when yours is finished or when you get up prematurely, bringing non-wing food to the gathering, de-winging during the meal are all unforgivable sins that can be punished through excommunication.

The only consumables other than chicken wings welcome at wing night are blue cheese dressing (ranch dressing for the weaker and cheaper amongst us), celery stalks, carrot sticks and beer - lots and lots of beer.

The wing of choice is Buffalo. A Buffalo wing is an unbreaded chicken wing section (flat or drumette) that is generally deep-fried then coated in a sauce consisting of a vinegar-based cayenne pepper hot sauce and melted butter, before serving. The texture of a perfect wing is crispy on the outside, soft and well-cooked on the inside. The secret is all in the sauce. It should come with plenty of heat and a plethora of rich and surprising flavours. The sauce distinguishes the successful wing from the rest.

You will also need the beer - lots of ice cold beer. Preferably, a lighter beer that can keep up with the cooling demands of patrons.


Every wing night bolsters and perpetuates in us an adoration for this land and its people. Canada and Canadians took us in and made us a part of them when they invited us for wing night. As a result, we are now Canadian. Now we can welcome you too to come with us for an experience of a lifetime.

Be prepared. You are going to cry and gasp for air at your first wing night. There is nothing you can do about it. It is a shock to any sane person's system to consume food that is blazingly hot and in such large quantities. As you settle in, the hurt will become familiar, and you will cherish the cooler soothing moments of the beer. In time you will come to look forward to the pain until it eventually turns bizarrely pleasurable. Then you realize that you are either crazy or adequately drunk. The morning after will tell. Come to think of it, wing night has a lot in common with the ordinary flow of life!

The only advice we can give is that you keep a big jar of Vaseline handy and the softest toilet paper you can buy. One can never have enough toilet paper.

We are taking the Two Cowboys Wing Night show on the road this Summer, to discover how this ritual event plays out across our towns in Western Canada, and maybe even the world. We are inviting you along for the journey and hope to meet you at your favourite spot for your beloved wings with friends.

Hendrik van Wyk
Hot Cowboy

We earn our livelihood by producing great content and supporting inspiring people, businesses, and communities. Please book us here so we can tell your story too.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Two Cowboys: Every Cow and Bull Mount Comes With a Story at Longhorns and Leather in Coronation, Alberta

Making Lemonade

If you do something for the love of money, become a banker. For a life with meaning, preferably make something.

Enjoy what you do and get better at it, so that it adds value to your and other people's lives. When the world gives you lemons, make lemonade. Love lemons so much that you are vested in making the world's best lemonade. Then, make sure thirsty people everywhere can get it on hot summer days.

The golden rule that budding entrepreneurs often miss is that you have to absolutely love and value what you do. When you are successful, you are going to do a lot of it. The second valuable lesson is to seek out people that value and benefit from what you do. Because these are the people vested in your success. Work hard. Become the best so that more people can have what you create.

It all starts with a love and passion for making something. For Dexter Dedora, in Coronation Alberta, it began with his passion for farming and the few remaining Longhorn cattle of Alberta. He mounts horns.


In the early part of the 20th century, Longhorns neared extinction. However, the breed was kept alive because a few Texas ranchers and some in Southern Saskatchewan and Eastern Alberta, Canada, held onto small herds for mostly sentimental reasons.

Now, Longhorns are making a fantastic comeback as a breed. They are not just surviving symbols of the Old West but are cattle that are more and more in demand. They are attractive to breeders today for the same reasons they were successful a century ago. Their resistance to disease, ease of calving, longevity, and ability to thrive on poor pasture makes them unique. They also provide health-conscious Americans of the 21st century with lean and great-tasting beef.

Most of all, they are beautiful animals. The fashionable colours of their hides and those recognizable long horns make it a particular breed that serves as a talisman for what the Old-West was and still is all about. These are the symbols of a hardy folk - the people that succeeded with tenacity and perseverance and above all a love for their animals that made a particular type of life possible in a harsh and unforgiving land. The Longhorn had a significant part in it all. It is no wonder that there is an incentive to try and preserve some of the memory of a particular bull or cow that played a role in the survival and success of a family or a ranch.

If not the memory of a particular animal, then the reminder of more straightforward, harder, and somehow a more rewarding time in the West when hard work was rewarded, honesty and integrity valued, and where people still took care of each other.


Dexter's Longhorn mounts are not trophies. They are stories that he cajoles from, and share with every one of the masterpieces he lovingly creates in his shed. In some cases, the stories date back decades as he performs his lazarushian magic to bring the horns of an old bull or cow back from the brink of oblivion.

His polished masterpieces have travelled as far as Europe. All across Canada, they are treasured as reminders of a grandfather, a ranch, home or a specific animal. Above all, they are reminders of a lifestyle, culture and outlook of a pioneering people. People that know that there is fulfilment in making something of value, and in sharing it with people that you love and that are vested in your success.

That is why we will proudly display a Longhorn mount from Dexter's Longhorns and Leather. It reminds us every day to invest our time and energy in the people that care about us and value what we do in the same way as the Longhorn from which it came was once vested in the survival and success of its owner.

We are telling the stories of our makers to the world because celebrating these people is desperately needed. The time is coming when we will need them more than ever before.

Hendrik van Wyk
Longhorn Cowboy

We earn our livelihood by producing great content and supporting inspiring people, businesses, and communities. Please book us here so we can tell your story too.



Worker Hands



Longhorn Cow

Two Cowboys & Ranch

Eastern Alberta - 2018

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Traveling Cowboys: Kicking off Fulltiming and the Dreamy Lifestyle of a Nomad in North America - Starting in Canada

This is Serious

I've counted every hour I've spent commuting to and from work. In my thirty-long working years thus far, while committed to the soul-destroying act of a "rewarding corporate career", I clocked more kilometres than most. Three hours a day. Fifteen hours a week. Sixty hours a month. Seven-hundred-and-twenty hours a year. A full ninety, eight hour work days on the road, every year! Two-thousand-and-seven-hundred "rewarding" days of my life staring through the windows of a commuter car. A lifetime lost!

As the days clicked by, I wore out cars. I sacrificed my time, to be amongst people I deplore. I did "work" with little to no value, without recognition, so that I can have and afford the "expected lifestyle" for my middle-class family. Every day I asked, "Is this meant to be life?" until one day I proclaimed, "This cannot be it!" 

See the complete video here or on our channel.


It was a lifestyle that took seventy cents in every dollar I earned, for direct and indirect taxes. The remaining thirty cents I paid towards extortionately high and never-ending loan interest and fees to banks for accommodation (mortgage), transport (vehicle finance) and insurance. With the responsibility for four dependents, I lived for the welfare of the government and the profits of the banks, and for the privilege to borrow a small amount back on my high interest and low fee credit card to feed my family and fill a house with trolly loads of meaningless stuff. A home located in an artificially crafted "lifestyle community" or suburb.

The house I lived in belonged to the bank and what I was allowed to do with it was determined by the city or town. Even the insurance company prescribed what I can and cannot do with supposedly "my vehicle". Starting and operating a business was even harder, but a story for another time.

Inevitably, anyone in my situation - which is an increasingly more significant number of people - come to realise that this cannot be it! There must be more to life and better things to do with my time in a place and space I want to be, that is mine, and where I am in control and can choose, where I can hold on to what I make and can live with what I earn. Where I can work and spend time with people, I actually want around me.


So far, I've migrated through three continents looking for this place and life, and came to realise it may be nothing more than an elusive dream. Or, is it?

Is the dreamy digital nomadic lifestyle pre-empting what so many people have lost and are hoping to attain, ultimately again? Are technology and mobility finally putting it within reach for us to go and live and wander. To go to places where we want to be, instead of where we have to be. Can we go where we are valued and where our experience is needed? Is the life of a Fulltimer a way to ultimately be free to live more with less?

My generation will probably never see retirement. When we read the newspapers, we realise that there probably won't be money left in the public purse for pensions when we clock around sixty-five. Why then delay the inevitable. Get out. Hit the road now. Live!

As we wake up beside the ocean or in a forest next to a lake, will birdsong or crashing waves become the rhythm of our routine? Will we finally be free from the daily grind and "ideal life" the Baby boomers craftily "left us"? Is home-anywhere the salvation for the Generation X'ers, to live and do what we love. Will we finally be able to say, this is it!

The Two Cowboys invite you on our journey as we learn how to deal with the challenges of the self-imposed nomadic lifestyle.  Come with us to explore and enjoy the spoils along the way, as we explore a new, and hopefully better way of living. The house is for sale. The storage container packed. The RV stocked. The maps rolled out. The dart is thrown.

See you on the road, fellow travellers.

Hendrik van Wyk
Home-Everywhere Cowboy

We earn our livelihood by producing great content and supporting inspiring people, businesses, and communities. Book us here.


Two Cowboys Van

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Two Cowboys: New Zealand Beer in a Can Made Perfectly Every Time with WilliamsWarn in Dunedin, New Zealand

Kiwi In A Can

We all know that beer doesn't travel well. Light, movement and temperature fluctuations are some factors contributing to the rapid degradation of the flavour profile of freshly brewed and fermented beer. How can you then send beer halfway around the world and ensure that it is as fresh as it should be the day it is poured?

I think WilliamsWarn in New Zealand has the answer. They send New Zealand's best brews as malt extract in a can all over the world, and leave the last steps of the beer making process - fermentation, pouring and consumption - up to their customers. At the same time, they liberate their brewers from some of the heavy-handed taxations that accompany man's oldest beverage.

It's like the tea and coffee business. The manufacturer does all the work with the best ingredients they have, and all you have to do is add water or pull a shot of espresso. In the case of WilliamsWarn, add water and yeast, give it a little time, chill and pour yourself a clean, crisp, fresh New Zealand beer!

At Speights with WilliamsWarn

Award Winning Home Brewer - Nick Koppers

Chef Jason van Dorst - Experimental Brewer


We were hosted by Sean Toohey of WilliamsWarn at Speights Brewery. He wanted us to see first-hand, where the deliciousness of WilliamsWarn's beer came from.

The brewery is in one of New Zealand's iconic beer locations - Dunedin. It is rich in history and famous for its "Pride of the South" branding. James Speight, Charles Greenslade and William Dawson handed in their notices at Well Park Brewery in 1876 to establish their own brewery in Dunedin’s Rattray Street. Dawson was the brewer, Greenslade the maltster and Speight the businessman. The rest is history, as they say.

Today, the business is part of the Lion Group of companies. Not only do they still brew the famous Speight’s Gold Medal Ale, but the facility is now also a key producer of malt extract for food producers, craft, micro and home breweries the world over. Almost as much as half the capacity of the facility is dedicated to this niche line of products that are made uniquely and exclusive with New Zealand brewing ingredients. Yes, you heard it right. New Zealand hops, malt and specialty grains are added to the famous water from the spring underneath the Brewery to produce perfect wort extracted in a can of malt, and then they send it to us here in Canada courtesy of WilliamsWarn.

WilliamsWarn's patented BrewKegs unlock this Kiwi goodness for us when we add water and yeast, and a little hops to taste, and send us on a taste journey back home to our Island, and to the people that are proud of their South and their beer.


The beer business is complicated. Brewing is even more tricky. You can be a lover of beer and hate everything that comes with the industry. It is tricky not only due to the way it is done but because of the players, grandstanding, dress-ups, technologies, regulations, taxations, ingredients, branding, tariffs and more.

Amongst all this complexity of what should be a relatively simple matter - like baking bread - we are sincerely thankful for someone that can obscure it all, and deliver to us a simple, failure proof way, we too can take charge of our beer.

What we've learned now, thanks to our visit to Speights, is that not only does WilliamsWarn liberate us and our beer by making it simple and easy to make our own beer, it also sends us goodness from home, extracted in a can of malt. What an ingenious way to do it!

Thank you for our New Zealand beer - in a can!

Hendrik van Wyk
Beer Cowboy

We earn our livelihood by producing great content and supporting inspiring people, businesses, and communities.


Old School

Kiwi In A Can


The Crew

The Place

The Original

Man with Horse

Beer Cowboys

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Two Cowboys: Conversation with Julian Bond at the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts in Vancouver, Canada

If Your Name Is On The Door

You find these people in the slums of grimy chip shops in London, at local markets across Asia, or at the roadside taco stands in Mexico City. They operate a smashed burger food truck grill on a beach in New Zealand or the dessert station of a world-renowned hotel's kitchen. They mind the oven at the local pizza parlour or the pasta station at the Michelin Star restaurant in Downtown New York. I am referring to the ever-present culinary workforce that is responsible for much of our food every day.

The food industry is vast, and the opportunities are endless. There are possibilities for anyone, anywhere in the world. It was always, and still is a trusted way to earn a living. Cooking and food preparation is as old a profession as civilized man, itself.

We wanted to know from Julian Bond, the Vice-President & Chief Operating Officer at the Pacific Institute of Culinary Art (PICA), what determines the success of the individual that ventures in by choice or chance, in such a vast array of opportunity, locales, and roles. 

See the full documentary here at


Sue Singer founded the Institue in 1997. The school is located in Vancouver, British Columbia Canada, at the entrance to Granville Island. It is an accredited, private and co-educational culinary training facility that provides students with world-class training in a setting filled with both cultural and recreational opportunities.

They provide an array of programs from casual classes to wine programs, their award-winning Bistro 101 Restaurant and Bakery 101 Café course. They cater for a wide range of corporate events. The flagship is their Professional Diploma Programs in Culinary Arts and Baking & Pastry Arts.


What is considered success nowadays in the culinary world? Is it surviving the next paycheck as line-cook, obtaining the almighty Michelin star as a chef, gaining fame and celebrity on television, or having the fortune of owning your business? Maybe it is becoming a mentor and a teacher training the next generation of cooks and chefs like Julian is doing?

He had some choice words. Like most sages, much of what he had to say went beyond his profession. He shared some life lessons.

For example, some people enter the business through the dishwasher's door; others have the privilege of attending a prestigious culinary school and working with a renowned mentor. For everyone, their foundation, work ethic, focus and commitment determines their path in the culinary industry, as it does in any other business.

It helps to start with a good foundation. It makes it easier in the long run. For some, a sound basis is cutting their teeth on the hard work at the bottom rungs of a kitchen, learning the basics and work ethic that goes with the playing field. For others, the foundation is the chemistry of ingredients they discover in a structured certified cooking program like the ones at PICA. For all, it is ultimately their focus and commitment that determine the chances for success. More often, it is not the talent that makes it to the top. Instead, it is the person willing to put in the work, that becomes distinguished.

There is no substitute for experience and only two possibilities to get it. You can either make your own mistakes or surround yourself with the right people and use the opportunity to learn from their mistakes. A culinary school provides an ideal environment where you can learn from a lot of errors - your own, and those of your classmates.

It still left us with the big question. What is a success and how do you recognize it in the industry? Success is realizing the value of sitting down with your family for a home-cooked Sunday afternoon meal. It is the discovery of the transitional states of sugar and seeing the unfolding of a protein. It is tasting the burst of caviar, the perfume of truffle, the tingling of champagne bubbles and the fragrance of a freshly peeled orange. Ultimately, success in food is very much the same as it is for life. If you blink, you miss it. If you look away, it slips by you. Success is the realization that every moment counts, and it is only the moment that count.

If your name is on the door, you better be in the restaurant. If your bread is in the oven, you better watch it. If your steak is on the grill, you better keep an eye it. It happens fast in a kitchen as it does in life. If your students are in the class, you better teach them. If you've found your passion in life, you better live it.

Ultimately, success is being in the moment in all its glory. Before you know it the restaurant will be opened, entrees prepared, souffle done, stars awarded, desserts served, service completed, dishes washed, and goodbyes said, before all starts again in the morning.

It always starts again in the morning.

Hendrik van Wyk
Cullinary Cowboy

We earn our livelihood by producing great content and supporting inspiring people, businesses, and communities. We use Patreon to publish our premium content. Please become a patron at if you want to see more of this and other local maker stories.







Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Two Cowboys: The Story of Alberta's Maltsters at Canada Malting in Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Where Beer Begins

As the saying goes, "Behind every successful man, there is a loving and supportive wife". The same goes for brewing: "Behind every perfect glass of beer, there is a devoted and talented maltster".

Brian Dunn from Canmore Brewing Company puts it best when he says that brewing beer is relatively easy. Brewing good beer is not that hard either. Doing it consistently, over and over, again and again, is a real challenge. Then, you realise as craft brewer that you have to rely on the help of your maltster.

The maltsters understand the grain. They are the people that provide excellent breweries with a consistent foundation and reliable platform from where they can tailor their clients' favourite brews. Without them, every brew is bound to be different. Gone are the days where the brewery planted the grain, grew the hops, malted the barley, made the beer, distributed and served it. Today, every step of the value chain is fragmented and specialised. With the revival of craft brewing and distilling all over the world, it is even more evident that over-ambitious fledgeling breweries underestimate their reliance on right quality ingredients and trustworthy ingredient providers.

There is a straightforward recipe for a successful craft brewery to keep its patrons and stay in business. Make delicious beer consistently. If your batches deviate in taste and vary in quality, you risk alienating the very customer you've just won over from the brewery down the road. Big breweries know this. Craft breweries are learning it the hard way. Merely to have a brewing license is not a recipe for success. You have to make delicious beer and do it consistently.

See the full documentary here at


In the late parts of 2016, just as Alberta's late-blooming craft brewing and distilling industry took off, we embarked on something we referred to as the great Alberta Beer Run. We wanted to meet the heroes and heroines of Alberta's craft liquor revival. We tried to take in the elixirs of joy, meet the license anointed, grant selected and subsidised entrepreneurs who overcame the regulatory perils of liquor production in a Province still suffering from a prohibition hangover. We planned to proclaim their success to an audience in waiting. Alberta finally arrived in the world of craft beer and distilling, and they are here to stay! Hooray!

Once the euphoria subsided in 2017, and we recovered from our hangover and after-taste of bad experimental brews, we discovered a whole different side to the story. A typical epiphany of craft played out for us like it did for craft disciples in other jurisdictions as well.

What we discovered was that brewing is actually easy. Beer is just beer. The best beer is fresh beer. The guy with the beard may look like the brewer but probably isn't. Your "local" beer may not be that local. If you are a brewery or distillery, your contribution to tariffs, excise and taxes make you a de facto public servant. We've found community dress-ups and craft impersonators. The sales droning of glacier-fed water, terroir authority, farm-to-glass spiels and the countless self-celebratory awards became monotonous with every sip of gin and with every ale we drank in the hope for something, anything genuinely inspirational and authentic to reveal itself.

Then it hit is. Behind all this make-believe of craft is a rock solid foundation that is also the foundation for businesses before and much more substantial than craft. All of these players rely on the simple ingredient for the success of their business. The maltster is the one person all of them have in common. Malt is the foundational ingredient before flavouring with hops, botanicals, barrels and any other concoction that makes it into your drink, and Alberta produces it. That is the real inspiration and the genuinely authentic story of how Alberta's maltsters are fueling the fire of creativity for brewers and distillers beyond our province.

The story is bigger - much bigger. It is the story of Alberta's place in the world of brewing and distilling, and no one is telling it. That is why we are showing it.

Alberta, Canada has a strong grain producing history thanks to the flat topography of its landscape, its fertile soil, sunny summers, and the pioneering hardiness of its people. The Province's farmers plant and grow the best barley and wheat in North America. It is this grain that is sent all over the world to make some of the world's best beer and whiskies. It is also the grain that is helping to fuel the explosion; some may say the revival, of craft brewing in North America.

However, there is a less glamorous side to the story. A contribution that begs to be highlighted and must be shared. A role that remains obscured in the beard boding, hipster culture wielding world of craft. It is the role of the maltster. Before Alberta's grain becomes beer and whisky, it needs first to become malt, which is the foundational ingredient in any brew. Someone is malting our grains and we need to know who it is. We are telling the maltster's story.

The role of Alberta's Maltsters goes back to the late eighteen hundreds with a company called Canada Malting. Today, this company is the most significant malt company in Canada, producing approximately 400,000 metric tonnes of malt per year. They are sending it to brewers and distillers around the world. Alberta's maltster has been fueling the beer industry, and more recently, the craft beer and distilling industry in a substantial way, and they are planning to continue to do so.


We thank the people we could feature in this documentary for an opportunity to include you in this story. We appreciate the commitment that you've made to the Two Cowboys, and for allowing us to get to know you and your businesses better. Some of you even became loyal friends and clients over the months we've put into filming this production.

The most significant lesson we take away from our work producing this documentary is a realisation that one should invest in the people that invest in you. That is what we endeavour to do every day. The businesses that embraced us made this documentary possible. As a thank you, we hope the exposure they get from our work contributes, even if it is a small part, to their future success.

This documentary is entirely self-funded. No one paid us to do it. We did it because of our love for beer, and for our people.

You are:

Hendrik van Wyk
Beer-Loving Cowboy

We earn our livelihood by producing great content and supporting inspiring people, businesses, and communities. We use Patreon to publish our premium content. Please become a patron at if you want to see more of this and other local maker stories.


Alberta's Maltsters







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