A new page in the story of Lonsdale Quay’s favourite bowl of soup is about to turn over.
The nephew of Soup Meister Ralf Dauns will be carrying on his uncle’s legacy, following the death of the beloved chef in November.
Plans that Evan Paul would be picking up the torch were announced last Friday, as family, friends and former clientele gathered at the Pipe Shop for Dauns’s celebration of life.
By the end of December last year, Dauns’s stepdaughter Renee Robertson had given up after struggling to find someone to carry on his legacy.
“But my cousin, Ralph’s nephew, was a little dark horse that came out of nowhere,” Robertson said.
“We knew continuing with The Soup Meister as-is was not an option. But we have handed over the family recipes to my cousin Evan [Paul],” she continued. “He is starting his own soup company, and will be moving into The Soup Meister location at Lonsdale Quay Market.”
At the celebration of life, Paul said he was blown away by the amount of love and support for his uncle, who was so humble in just loving what he did.
“I was humbled, I was nervous, but also excited to be able to continue all the great things that he was doing,” Paul said.
Currently, Paul is in the process of negotiating terms of a new lease with Lonsdale Quay. “Things are moving in the right direction – definitely,” he added.
To get the business going, Paul has been in touch with Dauns’s former kitchen manager, who’s expressed interest in working in the new operation. Other former staff have expressed interest as well, and Paul plans to reach out to the community to fill the remaining roles.
Can you guess the new shop’s name? The Soup Meister’s Nephew.
Paul said the new title draws a direct tie to his uncle while identifying it as a new entity.
“That gives us some freedom in the recipes to play with, modify, change slightly, while also paying tribute to what he’s done,” he said. “Being North Vancouver, I do feel there’s a big draw for vegetarian or vegan-based soups, that I’ve been experimenting with over the last year or two.”
While no reopening date is confirmed yet, Paul is hoping that the new shop is ready to open for May long weekend, when a relaunch date is slated for Lonsdale Quay, which has been undergoing significant renovations.
Along with the new business, Paul plans to release a Soup Meister cookbook in collaboration with the Quay, with profits going to a culinary school bursary in Dauns’s name.
Paul 'humbled and honoured' to carry on uncle's legacy
Growing up, cooking had always been a passion for Paul, whose grandma would call him to help in the kitchen instead of watching TV after school.
After retiring from the military in 2018, Paul went to BCIT to get a diploma in business and his bachelor’s degree in business.
“While I was in business school, I would make my way across on the SeaBus and join [Dauns] for his afternoon coffee when he was doing his inventory and orders,” Paul explained.
“On many of those coffees with Ralf, I would ask, ‘What’s your retirement plan? Is that something you’d be willing to give up?’ But he would never give up the reins.
“So it’s been something I’ve thought about and discussed with him. It just never materialized. And then it was just after Christmas, I reached out to Renee to express interest. And that’s when the ball got rolling,” he said.
Since he’s announced his intentions to continue on his uncle’s path, Paul has got an outpouring of encouragement and support from his family.
“Everybody is excited that I’ve stepped up to the plate,” he said. “But because it is a family business, everybody has an opinion. So it’s just weighing out: How should I navigate all of this?”
There’s no question that Paul has big shoes to fill.
“I’m scared shitless but I’m also super excited. I’m really excited, humbled and honoured to be able to continue on his legacy.”