Industry News

Smoke’s Poutinerie Announces the Death of Founder and Chief Entertainment Officer Ryan Smolkin

It is with great sadness we announce that our friend and CEO (Chief Entertainment Officer) Ryan Smolkin died on Sunday, October 29 at 7:00 p.m. due to unexpected complications from a recent surgery. The entire Smoke’s Poutinerie family mourn this loss and extend our deepest sympathies to Ryan’s family.

Ryan Smolkin was a successful Property Capitalist and Branding Guru who formerly owned one of Canada’s top branding & design companies with a roster of industry leading clients including Nike, Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, Sims Snowboards, Molson Breweries, Corus Entertainment, and YTV. Ryan then founded the multi-award-winning brand Smoke’s Poutinerie in 2009 and became known as the Chief Entertainment Officer (CEO). From day one, Ryan’s business goal was simple, GLOBAL DOMINATION! Ryan was a Visionary Leader, a Legendary Innovator, a True Canadian Business/Cultural Celebrity, a Social Media Influencer, and an experienced International Speaker. His message was strong, candid, and always delivered with an unmatched, unique style and unbridled energy.

Ryan always said that one of the secrets behind his success was to surround himself with the right people… and while the team at Smoke’s Poutinerie will never fill the emptiness left from this loss, they will continue to fuel his dream, the Gravy Train, with the passion and care that he has instilled in each of them, building on his vision of Global Domination! As directed by Ryan prior to passing, we are pleased to affirm that newly appointed president and COO, Mark Cunningham will take the lead seat on the Gravy Train. Mark is a franchise industry veteran of 25+ years and long-time Chief Operating & Business Development Officer of Smoke’s Poutinerie. Mark and the whole team will ensure that it’s business as usual with the same goals, vision, and direction that Ryan built the brand on…

In Ryan’s own words, “Nothing Stops the Gravy Train!”

Ryan was passionate about many things… one close to his heart was his relationship with We Care, whose vision is enabling kids with disabilities to realize their full potential. As the Charity of Choice of the Foodservice Industry, they partner with companies to raise money and send kids with disabilities to fully accessible Easter Seals summer camps across Canada. In 2016, Ryan created the CEO Challenge in support of We Care, where leaders of the Food Industry sign up to raise money and compete in a friendly Poutine Eating Challenge. The event is held annually during our World Poutine Eating Championship (WPEC) and has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for We Care. In his memory, this event will now be known as “The Ryan Smolkin CEO Challenge in Support of We Care.” Ryan became a director of the We Care Board in 2018 and never stopped thinking about the kids. In lieu of flowers, Ryan has requested that a donation be made in his memory through this link, to help send a deserving kid to camp. (

The Righteous Brothers once said, if there’s a Rock n’ Roll Heaven, well you know they’ve got a hell of a band, and we’re sure that Ryan is with them now, convincing them to jump on the Gravy Train and FIRE IT UP! BOOM!!!