The North Vancouver Soup Master chef is known for his generosity and kindness
Ralf Dauns served soul food at North Vancouver’s Lonsdale Quay Market for nearly three decades, but the “soup master” will be remembered for his community contributions, as will the hearty soup he often gave away for free.
Hundreds of people gathered at the pipe shop, just steps from Dauns’ restaurant, the Suppenmeister, on Friday to commemorate the 63-year-old, who died of cancer in November 2022.
Steph Baker was the Dauns’ neighbor for 25 years. She says he’s known for sending soup to anyone dealing with health issues, hiring people who live on the streets to work at his restaurant, and giving warm hugs to guests having a bad day.
“He watched my children grow up. He was my support system whenever we needed it,” Baker said. “And then, when my kids were old enough to work, it was their first job [working at the Soup Meister].”
Born in a small village in Germany, Dauns grew up on a vineyard and boarding house where he learned to make wine at a young age and developed a passion for cooking.
He came to Canada in 1991 and worked as an executive sous chef at the Delta Pacific Resort and Convention Center and as an executive chef at the Teahouse Restaurant in Stanley Park.
In 2018, Dauns told CBC he was fed up with corporate life and decided to try something different, opening Soup Meister restaurant in the mid-1990s to perfect and serve his favorite soups, including peas and ham.
“I’m not a very good company employee, so I thought I should be traveling alone,” Dauns said at the time.
Soup Master Superhero
Baker said her children saw the soup master as a superhero. She was surprised at how many people who attended Friday’s event had stories of how Dauns had transformed their lives.
“We didn’t know how many people he had influenced,” she said. “[He] really just had time and was authentic.”
Sarah Robertson worked for Dauns for five years from 1996. She said it was a great experience working for a family business and described the soup master as a leader and strong supporter of his employees.
“He gave me my first job the week I turned 15,” she said, adding that she kept coming back to the soup counter — and getting an employee discount — long after she’d started a family and a new career.
“He took in so many people who wouldn’t have had a chance of really keeping a job — he took care of a lot of kids,” she said.
Ralf Dauns died on November 23 surrounded by his family in Montreal, where he had traveled to receive cancer treatment.