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

A man sustained burns to his body near this spot around 3:30 a.m. Tuesday, April 13 in Courtenay. The fire was left of the pathway. The Station youth housing facility and city public works yard are to the right of the trail. Photo by Terry Farrell
Emergency personnel respond to man on fire in wooded area of Courtenay

A man was badly burned in the early morning hours Tuesday in… Continue reading

This 2013 Dodge Ram 1500 was stolen from Black Creek Motors at approximately 2 a.m. Sunday, April 11. Photos via blackcreekmotors.com
VIDEO: Thieves steal truck from Black Creek car lot by towing it away

Have you seen a 2013 Dodge Ram 1500 in your neighbourhood in… Continue reading

Teresa Hedley and a copy of her book, “What’s Not Allowed? A Family Journey with Autism.” Photo supplied
Comox Library recognizes Autism Awareness Month with presentation by local author

April is World Autism Awareness Month, an annual opportunity to increase understanding… Continue reading

Comox council will further look at a troublesome traffic area in the Point Holmes area of the town. Photo submitted
Comox council to look at speed calming measures at Point Holmes

“…We are waiting for a problem to happen if we don’t act.”

A 41-person air task force, including 12 members from 407 Long Range Patrol Squadron at 19 Wing Comox, seized more than $3 million CND worth of cocaine as part of Op Caribbe. Photo by Canadian Armed Forces Operations/Facebook
19 Wing Comox crew involved in three-tonne cocaine seizure worth more than $293 million

12 members from 407 Long Range Patrol Squadron involved in Op Caribbe

Restaurant patrons enjoy the weather on a patio in Vancouver, B.C., Monday, April 5, 2021. The province has restricted indoor dining at all restaurants in B.C. due to a spike in COVID-19 numbers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 indoor dining, drinking ban extending into May

Restaurant association says patio rules to be clarified

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Two men were seen removing red dresses alongside the Island Highway in Oyster Bay. (Submitted photo)
Two men filmed removing red dresses from trees on highway near Ladysmith

Activists hung the dresses to raise awareness for Vancouver Island’s Murdered/Missing Women & Girls

Comox Lake is the drinking water source for the CVRD. Photo supplied
Comox Valley Water Treatment Project nears completion

The Comox Valley Water Treatment Project is more than 85 per cent… Continue reading

B.C. Premier John Horgan speaks at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
Tougher COVID-19 restrictions in B.C., including travel, still ‘on the table’: Horgan

John Horgan says travel restrictions will be discussed Wednesday by the provincial cabinet

RCMP on scene yesterday at the altercation at the trailer park. (Submitted photo)
Violent altercation at Port Hardy trailer park sends one to hospital

Police say man confronted another over airsoft shooting, then was attacked with a weapon

Comox council approved a change in fees for using the Comox Municipal Marina, extending the collection of fees from March 1 to Oct. 31 each year. Black Press file photo
Fee changes, increased costs coming to Comox Municipal Marina

The town will be extending the collection of fees from March 1 to Oct. 31

John Albert Buchanan was found guilty of manslaughter in the 2017 death of Richard Sitar. Pictured here, Buchanan walking to the court in Nanaimo last year. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)
Six years including time served for Nanaimo man in bludgeoning death

John Albert Buchanan sentenced in B.C. Supreme Court in Nanaimo for death of Richard Sitar

Protesters occupied a road leading to Fairy Creek Watershed near Port Renfrew. (Submitted photo)
B.C. First Nation says logging activist interference not welcome at Fairy Creek

Vancouver Island’s Pacheedaht concerned about increasing polarization over forestry activities

Most Read