Sudhir D’Souza working in the kitchen at Mountain Tiger. Photo SPIN

The smell of spice and curry has filled the top of the village since April, enticing both tourists and residents through an unassuming door and into Sun Peaks’ newest restaurant.

Mountain Tiger has risen to fill a gap in international foods on the local restaurant scene. Led by head chef Sudhir D’Souza, the eatery offers cuisine from India, China and Lebanon.

Opening his own restaurant was a long-term goal for the chef. He grew up in a small town in India before working in kitchens around the world. He has helped open large hotel chains and learned from chefs across the globe.

In 2016 a wildfire forced his family to evacuate from their home in Fort MacMurray, Alta. and they never moved back. After seeing Sun Peaks they packed their home and moved south to the mountains.

D’Souza worked as the executive chef at the Sun Peaks Grand Hotel until this spring when he took the leap and opened Mountain Tiger.

“I always wanted to open something on my own,” he said.

In the fall of 2018 he and his business partners took the first steps. He said the idea started as a Chinese only takeout restaurant but grew to include other cuisines he excels in.

“I saw the need,” he said. “I’ve worked with a lot of master chefs and cook what I like and talked to locals to see what they want to eat.”

But designing a menu was easy compared to the renovations required. The room, now home to a takeout counter, kitchen and a few tables and chairs, was once the hot tub space for the Heffley Boutique Inn.

“We had to take that apart and design a kitchen here, where to go in and out and work within the space constraints.”

D’Souza said ventilation posed the biggest challenge, taking multiple tries to perfect the custom system. He added one of the best days of the process for him was the day the kitchen installation was complete.

“I made sure the kitchen equipment was proper…that’s important, it’s got to be done safely and properly; it’s a small space.”

After months of work the doors opened for the first time on April 5 to a warm response from the community.

“It was challenging but fun as well,” D’Souza said. “It’s been a great response, we’ve been busy and people like it.”

Now the chef is focusing on perfecting the menu. Three curries are cooked fresh each morning, taking around two hours. Chinese is cooked to order.

“I cook curries in the morning and they’re on display. When they’re sold out, they’re sold out. The styles change every day, usually one chicken, one second protein and one veggie which is usually also vegan.”

Shawarmas have also proven to be a local favourite with new varieties being added.  

Looking forward, D’Souza would like to consider a delivery option and expansion. D’Souza will continue working as chef while his wife, Rohina Subba, works on front of house tasks and his business partners help behind the scenes.

“We’ve been blessed to be helped by some locals…we want to grow here. We want to stay here, we want to be a part of this community in the long run.”

“It feels good. It feels really good to be your own boss and do your own thing. At the end of the day I’m a cook, I love cooking.”