Amelia Warren, Epicure CEO, stands outside the company's warehouse and offices in North Saanich.  Don Denton photo

Epicure’s Amelia Warren’s “Good Food, Real Fast”

North Saanich business feeds North America with healthy nutritious fare

  • Mar. 3, 2021 7:30 a.m.

– Story by Hans Tammemagi Photography by Don Denton

West Saanich Road is the quintessential thoroughfare of Vancouver Island, winding delightfully through shady stands of towering Douglas firs bordered by farms with sheep and horses, and passing the occasional roadside stand, where hand-printed signs advertise local flowers, eggs and vegetables.

At the northern end of this bucolic road, I turn onto the driveway that leads me to Epicure, the local company that creates recipes for healthy, nutritious dishes, using its own seasonings and sauces, and sells meal kits, food and cookware throughout North America.

Nestled in the backcountry of North Saanich, the Epicure property, including headquarters and warehouses, sits on a 30-acre farm.

Inside the large main building, Amelia Warren, the energetic CEO, explains that Epicure, with about 250 employees, is one of the largest private firms on Vancouver Island. Its dishes are easy to prepare and taste delicious, yet are fast, affordable and—most importantly—healthy and nutritious.

“Our motto,” she says, “is ‘Good food. Real fast.’”

Obviously, the formula works, and Epicure’s business has doubled during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In describing a few of the company’s hundreds of seasonings, sauces, meal kits and cookware—as listed in its catalogue and website, alongside recipes and appealing photos—Amelia says Epicure’s products break down to about 80 per cent food products and 20 per cent cookware used for preparing the dishes.

I get hunger pangs just looking at the scrumptious photos.

Amelia’s belief in her products is demonstrated as she describes the family dinners she is making this week. Each is Epicure-based and includes items like rotisserie chicken, donair and Greek salad.

“I love Epicure dishes because they’re healthy, tasty and easy to make,” she says.

A team of 10—including chefs, nutritionists, dietitians and food scientists—is devoted to creating about 60 new products each year.

“They’re well-qualified, but most importantly they’re free thinkers, who love going outside the box,” explained team leader Crystal McGregor,Epicure’s VP of products.

Ingredients are sourced from around the world—some seasoning mixes contain 17 herbs and spices—and quality is crucial. Amelia is closely involved, tastes all the dishes and her approval is necessary to bring a product to market.

Crystal has several favourite creations, but the Super Hero Breakfast Cookie stands out.

“Most people skimp on protein at breakfast. Hence, this recipe was created, featuring our awesome protein blend. I love that you can eat a cookie for breakfast and feel good about it.”

Amelia speaks highly of her mother, Sylvie Rochette, who founded Epicure. Sylvie was well ahead of the food-curve, making nutritious easy-to-prepare dishes in the early 1990s. She created sauces and spice blends and sold them to friends and at farmers’ markets; she was so successful, she decided to expand and, in 1997, selected direct sales as her sales method. This means her products are sold—like Tupperware or Avon—through consultants, who have a stake in the success of the company. Epicure has been charging ahead ever since.

Amelia, who took over as CEO in 2010, says, “My mom is a hard worker and very courageous. It was a bold step to enter into direct sales without any previous experience in the channel. She isan extraordinaryentrepreneur.”

Today, none of Epicure’s products are found in stores, even though, thanks to their ease of preparation and innovative tastes, they would sell well. Epicure’s “consultants” hold cooking classes online or in people’s homes that are effective, popular and successful.

Crystal is enthusiastic about the direct-sales marketing method.

“We want to inspire good and help people,” she says. “Our consultants can start their own entrepreneurial business for less than $200, be their own boss, and earn as little or as much as they want. It’s wonderful to know Epicure is also building leaders and giving consumers an opportunity to buy locally, supporting local business!”

Epicure is located in North Saanich. Amelia grew up in Victoria and believes “this is one of best places in the world to live.”

She enjoys hiking and immersing herself in the beautiful nature of Vancouver Island. She has a two-year-old daughter, and her husband, Kyle Vucko, the co-founder of Indochino, also works in the business.

Amelia’s caring and compassion form a vital part of Epicure, which helps its clients live healthier lives and gives to less-advantaged people in many ways.

“My favourite program,” she says, “is our Buy One, Share One program. For every mac and cheese sold, we donate one meal to Feeding America or Food Banks of Canada. Last year we donated just over 750,000 meals.”

Leaving, I hear chickens clucking and I pass an organic vegetable garden. Turning onto West Saanich Road, I’m pleased that this vigorous, innovative company, tucked away in our own backyard, is bringing health and nutrition to North America.

This story originally ran in PEARL, the magazine for Sidney and North Saanich, British Columbia.

BusinessFoodLifestyle

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Vanderhoof municipal office sign on Burrard Avenue. (Aman Parhar/Omineca Express)
Vanderhoof council discuss requests from NWRI, airport, BC Wildfire

District of Vanderhoof held their regular public meeting of council on April… Continue reading

The property on which a residential school (pictured) that was torn down years ago in Lower Post is to be the location of a cultural centre. (Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre photo)
Lower Post residential school building to be demolished, replaced with cultural centre

Project to be funded by federal and provincial governments, Daylu Dena Council

To send in Letters to the Editor, email aman.parhar@ominecaexpress.com
Letter: Increased aggression towards staff at Omineca Medical clinic

Dr. Davy Dhillon writes letter on behalf of the clinic

Basin Snow Water Index map for Apr. 1, 2021. (BC River Forecast Centre photo/Lakes District News)
Snowpack above normal for Upper Fraser West basin

Snowpack assessments for early April reveals above normal levels for northwestern British… Continue reading

Four young women prepare to model Magic Wand dresses at a fashion show. Magic Wand provides grad dresses and tuxedos for a nominal fee. (Submitted File Photo)
Nominations available for Cindrella Dreams Program in Vanderhoof

New organizer excited to help graduates with formal wear

A woman wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as she walks past the emergency entrance of Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Top doctor warns B.C.’s daily cases could reach 3,000 as COVID hospitalizations surge

There are more than 400 people in hospital, with 125 of them in ICU

The father of Aaliyah Rosa planted a tree and laid a plaque in her memory in 2018. (Langley Advance Times files)
Final witness will extend Langley child murder trial into May or June

Lengthy trial began last autumn with COVID and other factors forcing it to take longer than expected

The corner of 96th Avenue and Glover Road in Fort Langley now has traffic signals, and new “touchless” signal activation buttons. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)
Busy Fort Langley intersection gets ‘touchless’ crosswalk signals

The new traffic light started operation in April

A crossing guard stops traffic as students wearing face masks to curb the spread of COVID-19 arrive at Ecole Woodward Hill Elementary School, in Surrey, B.C., on Tuesday, February 23, 2021. A number of schools in the Fraser Health region, including Woodward Hill, have reported cases of the B.1.7.7 COVID-19 variant first detected in the U.K. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID-infected students in Lower Mainland schools transmitting to 1 to 2 others: data

Eight to 13 per cent of COVID cases among students in the Lower Mainland were acquired in schools, B.C. says

Norm Scott, president of Royal Canadian Legion Branch # 91, is disappointed the Legion does not qualify for COVID financial assistance from the provincial government. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C.’s pandemic aid package passing Legion branches by

Federal non-profit status stymies provincial assistance eligibility

Latest modelling by public health shows cases generated by COVID-19 infections into places where it can spread quickly. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
Industrial sites, pubs, restaurants driving COVID-19 spread in B.C.

Infection risk higher in offices, retail, warehouses, farms

Vancouver Canucks forward J.T. Miller said it would be “very challenging and not very safe” for him and his teammates to play as scheduled on Friday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Canucks’ return to ice postponed again after players voice COVID health concerns

Friday’s game against the Edmonton Oilers was called off after the team met virtually with the NHLPA

B.C. Attorney General David Eby, Minister Responsible for Housing. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. announces $2B for affordable, middle-income family home projects

HousingHub financing to encourage more developers, groups – with low-interest loans – to build affordable homes

Most Read