Cam Dyment’s journey to a successful restaurant began with a Traeger pellet smoker. In 2011, Cam started his YouTube channel, The Georgian Chef, to teach his subscribers how to smoke all kinds of meats, demonstrating the smoking process each step of the way. He has uploaded a range of videos, from smoked fish to his invention of smoked burgers. “I’m pretty sure I invented smoked burgers because there was no such thing before,” says Cam. As he continued to post his smoking tutorials, he received many likes and comments from people all around the world. To date, he has uploaded over 20 videos and has gained a substantial following of 2.29K subscribers!
In 2012, after his three children moved out, his business partner and spouse, Barb, suggested that he turn his passion into a reality by opening the restaurant that he always wanted to. Although Cam did not have prior experience in operating a kitchen, he has been cooking all his life and has the creativity to get inspiration from a recipe and make it his own. The suggestions from his loved ones and the positive feedback he was receiving on his YouTube channel made Cam think about opening a restaurant more and more. After much thought, he decided to begin planning for a barbeque smoking restaurant.
He began his venture by figuring out what he was going to serve to his customers by testing different recipes on his friends and family. When he was satisfied with his menu, he began to look at possible locations in Collingwood. He signed the lease for their current location at 498 First Street in July of 2012. After a four-week renovation and finalizing his brand, he was cooking in the kitchen and on December 12th, 2012, TheSmoke was born.
Out of the many awards and features TheSmoke has received, Cam’s most memorable ones include competing in the Kansas City Barbeque Contest and being featured on the Food Network’s show ‘You Gotta Eat Here!’.
In 2013, Cam participated in the Kansas City Barbeque Society (KCBS) Sanctioned Barbeque Contest at Blue Mountain. In this contest, 15 teams of high-profile competitors came from all over to demonstrate their skills in cooking four specific types of meats. This competition was a very proud moment for Cam as he was named the Overall Grand Champion.
In 2015, TheSmoke was featured on ‘You Gotta Eat Here!’ hosted by John Catucci on Food Network Canada. Through collaborating with the fellow foodie and putting his skills to the test, Cam has been able to put TheSmoke on the map as a destination restaurant. As a result of the feature, many customers would drive hours to Collingwood from different locations just to enjoy a delicious meal at TheSmoke and turn around to go back home! Cam mentions that there are still some customers who drive great distances just to try some of his award-winning smoked meats.
Cam was born and raised in Toronto, spending time up in Collingwood as a child to ski with his family. In 1998, Cam and his wife bought a house in Rob Roy, a small rural county located just 20 minutes from downtown Collingwood. They brought their three children up every weekend to enjoy the outdoor activities that Collingwood has to offer, including boating, skiing, and snowmobiling. At the time, Cam was able to work from home doing consulting, so they decided to sell their house in the city and move full time.
“It’s just the water, the air, the lack of congestion, and the stress level goes way down when you move up here,” says Cam.
When he was working in consulting, Cam enjoyed the four-season experiences that Collingwood had to offer. When he switched to the hospitality industry, the ways he spent his free time shifted as well. Now that he owns a restaurant, “[My] toys include more knives, pots, and pans, and less snowmobiles, boats, and ATVs,” Cam says with a smile.
Looking to the future
One thing that TheSmoke is very well known for is its accommodating nature for individuals with food intolerances. Since Cam has a homemade approach in his restaurant, he can modify his recipes to substitute different alternatives for individual needs.
In the media, different food websites, apps, and blogs promote TheSmoke as one of the best options for people with celiac disease, as it offers less than a handful of items that contain gluten. Since Cam’s favourite part of his hospitality journey is seeing people appreciate his food, he will continue to create new (and bring back crowd favourite) menu items that all his customers can enjoy.
This year, Cam is hoping to get business back to the same volume pre-COVID and feed as many people as possible. To help with this, TheSmoke is participating in Patiolicious, a summer/fall event developed by the Town of Collingwood Economic Development and BIA to promote the unique outdoor dining experiences that are found in Collingwood. In addition, he is always searching for talented individuals to join his team.
Cam emphasizes his gratitude towards his employees for their efforts to make TheSmoke an inclusive, drama-free work environment. Visit their website at www.thesmoke.ca for employment opportunities and find TheSmoke at 498 First Street to try Collingwood’s Award-Winning BBQ!
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Photo Credits: Dave West Photography