Over the years Paul Auger has been involved in many different things — skiing, massage therapy and construction among them.
"Jack of all trades but master of none," Auger says.
Now, Auger has a new profession to tack onto his resume: pizzeria owner.
In December, Auger opened the doors to BackCountry Pizza in Pemberton.
"It was just a need for pizza in Pemberton," he says, when asked what made him decide to get into the fast-paced pizza industry.
There are places that sell pizza in Pemberton, Auger says, but there was a need for a dedicated pizza place.
Auger and his team are happy to fill the void, and it seems Pemberton is grateful — BackCountry Pizza was named Best New Business in Pique's annual Best of Pemberton feature.
"It's been phenomenal. It's actually been double what I expected," Auger says of the feedback he's received from Pembertonians.
"We get a lot of people that actually thank us for being open. They just come in here and they're grateful for us being here. It's heartwarming to hear people say that. When you open up a business you're not quite sure what's going to happen, and when you actually have people coming into your place and thanking you for opening up a place, it's good."
On the menu at BackCountry you'll find all the tried and tested traditionals — pepperoni, cheese, Hawaiian, meat lovers — but there's also a good sense of experimentation.
"We've got some specialties, which are the Italian, Mexican farmer, pulled pork, and we've got the most amazing donair pizza," Auger says. "We do have the best donairs around for sure."
Other specialty pizzas on the menu include The Captain and the Canadiana, as well as a trio of chicken-based offerings: pesto chicken, barbecue chicken and chicken bacon ranch.
"We also carry veggie pizzas, and we also do gluten free," Auger says.
The two biggest sellers, no surprise, are pepperoni and Hawaiian, Auger says, "but the beef and blue and donair pizzas are close seconds, and the pulled pork is amazing."
So what is it that sets BackCountry apart from other pizza places? Aside from, you know, being the only one in Pemberton?
"We serve a really good product at a reasonable price," Auger says. "You can get a 16-inch pizza for $19.99. You can get a 10-inch pizza for $9.99. So we tried to keep the pricing quite reasonable, and we're trying to serve a really good product."
And that product has recently expanded beyond the square constrictions of the pizza box — BackCountry recently introduced a line of oven-baked subs.
"We've got a six-inch, 12-inch, and the most humongous of all subs, we've got a 24-inch," Auger says.
"Subway went with a foot-long, I went with two-foot-longs."
Sub varieties on the menu include ham and cheese, pizza, meatball, pulled pork, Italian, chicken club, donair and two varieties of veggies.
With the newest BackCountry offerings now on the menu, does Auger have any other culinary secrets up his sleeve?
"If I told you then they wouldn't be a surprise anymore. Gotta keep some secrets," he jokes.
"We are looking into getting into some smoothies and some shakes somewhere down the road. It's just a matter of finding room in our kitchen here."
BackCountry Pizza offers walk-ins, take-out and delivery and can be found at 104-1436 Portage Rd. in Pemberton. They can be reached on the phone at 604-384-1888 or via their Facebook page BackCountryPizza.
"I really appreciate the patronage of the folks from Pemberton," Auger says. "It's just been a phenomenal response and beyond my expectations, and I look forward to serving them for a long time to come."Donair Pizza
(dough not included)
2/3 cup canned evaporated milk
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/2 tsp garlic powder
3 pounds lean hamburger
3/4 cup bread crumbs
2 tsp pepper
1-2 tsp cayenne red pepper
(depending on your taste)
1 1/2 tsp oregano
3 tsp paprika
2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
Mix all the ingredients together well, repeatedly folding the spice and meat together. Place in a loaf pan then into a cool oven (150-200 degrees) for about two and a half hours. Cool completely before using. This makes enough for three one-pound loaves.
Make or buy your favourite pizza dough, then spread thin slices of the cooked donair meat across it. Sprinkle as much cheese as you like over the meat and add your toppings. Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes. After the pizza comes out of the oven pour the donair sauce over the pizza.