When most Canadians hear the word “donair,” chances are they associate it with the City of Halifax’s official snack: a beautifully messy pita wrap filled with spit-roasted shaved beef, tomatoes, onions, and its signature sweet and garlicky sauce.
But the world of donair is a diverse one, stemming from the “doner kebab” popularized in the 1970s by Turkish immigrants in West Berlin. A type of kebab made of meat cooked on a vertical rotisserie, donair has inspired a smorgasbord of regional variations, from Arab shawarma and Greek gyros to Mexican al pastor and, yes, Halifax donairs.
In England and Australia, it’s not unusual to find shops dishing out juicy kebab (the preferred term over donair), a beloved late-night dish for the post-pub crowd. Now, Jared Dyk, Aussie native and owner of Whistler’s newest munchie spot, Chubby Duck's, is hoping to bring his own version of a Canadian favourite to the Whistler masses.
“We put an Aussie-English spin on Canadian donairs. Traditionally the East Coast donair, which we’re offering, is just your beef, tomato and onion with the sweet garlic sauce, but kebab is the late-night food of choice in Oz. There’s one on every corner on any pub district. It’s the exact same situation in London,” he said. “I don’t think there’s anyone else doing what we do in Whistler: vertical roasted rotisserie meat, so the beef and chicken and fries, and then variations of those products.”
Offering chicken or beef options, marinated in-house and stacked onto “big cone rotisseries,” the menu will serve up the thinly shaved meat either in a pita, or piled high atop a mound of fries and smothered in cheese and a variety of sauces, known as a “Halal snack pack” Down Under.
“It is basically an Aussie version of a poutine that has fries and grated cheese and done with donair meat and sauces on top, with the option to add fresh toppings,” Dyk said.
Chubby Duck's also offers a vegetarian falafel wrap or snack pack, and, for those looking for another Canadian culinary hallmark, the menu will also feature traditional poutine.
“Lots of places do many, many things and they’re amazing, but seeing we were so limited on space, we decided our best course of action was to do four or five things and do them really well—things we know we can do,” explained Dyk, who added that he plans to slowly expand the menu over time, with a view to offering more snack-sized items.
Opened last week next-door to Fat Tony’s in a small, 300-square-foot space that has sat vacant for years, Chubby Duck's has been a long time coming. Dyk first began working with Fat Tony’s in 2010, before he and his wife purchased the pizzeria in 2019. With architectural drawings and a building plan in hand, Dyk was waylaid by the pandemic in 2020, mere weeks after renovations began.
“We had to build up from scratch again, and then we were able to revisit it a year ago when COVID started to wrap up. That’s when we got caught up in that municipal [permitting] backlog. Obviously, they are short-staffed too and they were awesome to help make it happen. We got our approvals in September, and it’s been a six- to eight-month building process trying to hit those deadlines.”
Dyk and his partner had another deadline to consider: the birth of their second child.
“We were in a bit of an odd position if we didn’t make those deadlines. My wife is due with our second, so if we didn’t get open for May long weekend, realistically, I’m not sure we could’ve opened after the baby was born, just with staff training and getting procedures in place.”
Currently open daily from 11 a.m. to midnight, Dyk expects Chubby Duck's to extend its hours in the coming weeks to 2 a.m. once staff gets fully trained up.
“The goal would be to at least make it to 2 a.m. to capture all of the bar crowd and nightclub crowd,” he said.
Learn more at chubbyducks.ca.