Retired navy cook brings comfort food to locals

Photos Peter Mallett, Lookout Master Seaman (Retired) John Duncan serves up freshly made soup and sandwiches at one of his two restaurants.

Master Seaman (Retired) John Duncan serves up freshly made soup and sandwiches at one of his two restaurants.

Rachel Lallouz, Staff Writer ~

Nobody knows the importance of comfort food like Master Seaman (Retired) John Duncan.

The sailor spent 12 years dishing up his soulful creations to ships’ crews until 1996 when he retired.

He tried working in the civilian world as Head Chef at Lester B. Pearson College in Metchosin, and then as a Food Service Manager at a senior’s facility.

But he couldn’t shake the itch to go it alone.

After a brief business course, he cracked open the doors of his own restaurant in 2003 – Dad’s Soup and Sangys in Colwood, which later moved to 310 Wale Road.

The delectable array soups and sandwiches made entirely from scratch, down to the freshly-baked bread and slowly-simmered soup stocks, made a fast foody following. So successful he opened a second location at 2806 Jacklin Road last April.

“The biggest compliment I can get is not about the amount of money that someone spends in one of my restaurants, but the fact they come up to me and say ‘that was the best soup I’ve ever had.’ That’s the kind of food I make for people,” says Duncan.  

Seven days a week, starting at 6 a.m., Duncan is in his kitchen, making salad dressings and stocks, helping bake bread, cooking roast beef and turkey for the sandwiches, and slicing veggies. He refuses to use preservatives and processed foods, does not fry anything, and supports his own community by buying local foods.

“Our house-baked roast beef on multigrain is just fantastic,” says Duncan. “But we do a terrific grilled Reuben on homemade rye bread as well, and of course, both are loaded with veggies and real cheese.”

As for his soups, Duncan says his clam chowder and mulligatawny are tied in popularity.

“Soup always makes a person feel better. It’s a comfort food,” says Duncan. “When you’re feeling down its perfect. I always say that soup can cure a person of everything that ails them.”

He credits his military training with the success of his small businesses.

“The military trained me to go and go, and I have to be multi-tasking constantly in two places at the same time, which is something I always had to do in the military,” he says.

To visit a Dad’s, stop by the Wale Road location between 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., or stop by the Jacklin Road location Monday to Friday from  7 a.m. to  7 p.m., on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. or for Sunday Brunch from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
More information about Dad’s can be found on the website:

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