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Walter Makowecki

Walter MakoweckiDuring Canada’s Centennial year, 1967, Edmonton businessman Walter Makowecki attended Expo ‘67 in Montreal and saw a piece of machinery that would change his professional life forever.

At the Soviet Union pavilion, a Ukrainian-manufactured machine demonstrated the mass production of savoury Siberian meat-filled dumplings. A trip to Ukraine later, and with much tinkering, Makowecki set up his own machine in Edmonton, established Heritage Frozen Foods in 1971, and in 1972, began to manufacture frozen perogies.

His fillings were traditional to Ukraine—potatoes and cottage cheese.

As Scott McKean wrote in the Vancouver Sun in 1999, " ‘Every family had a cow,’ (Makowecki) said, explaining that people would take cottage cheese from the cow’s milk, blend it with cooked potato and fold it inside a circle of dough. Add a touch of sour cream on top and you had a filling, tasty meal."

In the early years, marketing was difficult, as Ukrainian cuisine was an unknown quantity to many Canadians. But Makowecki persevered, and over the years introduced not only the basic perogy, but flavour innovations—among them, roasted garlic and herb, bacon and Romano cheese, and the pizza perogy—that would draw mainstream Canadian diners into the fold, and turn Heritage Frozen Foods into the world’s largest perogy producer.

In 1990, Makowecki entered into a joint venture to establish a plant in Ukraine. He has been recognized for his entrepreneurial acumen many times. In 1995, he was a recipient of the Pinnacle Award from the Calgary law firm Fraser Milner Casgrain LLP to honour individuals in the business community for their entrepreneurial efforts. In 2002, Makowecki was given the Alberta Food Processors Association Industry Builder Award to honour his "significant and lasting contributions to the growth of the food processing industry in Alberta."

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