If, as Anthony Bourdain once said, the professional kitchen is a place where some people find a new family, Heat Laliberte found his upon moving to Vancouver in 2004 at age 20, following a tumultuous childhood in Humboldt, Saskatchewan. The restaurant industry was also where he eventually discovered his passion: bacon.
Laliberte is the Cree-Métis founder of One Arrow, which produces several types of small batch artisanal bacon. The idea for the company formed with the encouragement of friends and colleagues while he was working at the Fairmont Pacific Rim hotel, after excelling in the culinary arts program at Vancouver Community College and gaining experience at other local establishments. “Working in restaurants is where I found my family,” Laliberte says. “I found a sense of belonging.”
A love of curing meats quickly took root. “The hotel had started a charcuterie program, and I knew I wanted to learn how to make sausages,” he explains. “I [also] learned how to make terrines, and bacon, and salamis, and how to butcher pigs. I was so excited to come to work every day.” Laliberte enrolled in an entrepreneurial program through Vancouver’s Aboriginal Friendship Centre Society, and decided to specialize in naturally smoked, hormone-free bacon. “There was a niche market for properly made bacon in unique flavours,” says Laliberte. “I love bacon. It’s like coffee: it perks people up and makes them happy.”
It was a dream come true when Laliberte started selling his products at farmers’ markets. “When you go to the market, you see farmers with dirt under their nails; you see how hard they work,” he says. “You know that the artisan foodmakers there are putting love into it.” Laliberte’s products are still sold at farmers’ markets throughout Vancouver, as well as at a handful of local purveyors and online.
One Arrow produces four types of bacon using premium Fraser Valley pork; the bacon is made in a Texas-made SmokinTex smoker. Hickory Smoked Maple features extra-dark maple syrup from Squamish’s Maples’ Sugar Shack, while Black Pepper and Honey is smoked with applewood chips. Chinese Five Spice has a kick that’s offset by its sweet-and-salty char siu glaze. Then there’s Salt & Smoke—which is aromatic of applewood and hickory smoke—a sugar-free, keto-friendly product made in response to a request from a long-distance runner. On the horizon, Laliberte hopes to add pemmican and candied salmon to One Arrow’s offerings.
As for the company name, Laliberte drew on his Indigenous culture. “The arrow signifies strength and resiliency to overcome tragedy,” he explains. “But to me, it also means ‘shoot for the stars.’”
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