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Archive for the ‘Interviews’ Category

Brice Peressini

Brice Peressini (Photo by Sebastian Chuffer)

Born in BC, Brice Peressini spent most of his life in Alberta. He came back a year ago to establish himself in beautiful Vancouver to pursue new challenges and seek new experiences. Bartending entered his life as a temporary situation, but he fell in love with the combination of social interaction and creative license. Brice is the ambassador for this year’s MADE WITH LOVE Competition and will work very soon for the new Parq Vancouver Casino. I had the opportunity to ask him about the bar scene in Vancouver.

What is the bar scene like in Vancouver?

We have some of the best and most innovative bartenders plying their trade right here in Vancouver and getting recognition internationally. We have fresh ingredients, innovative minds, sexy spaces, and fun environments. There is everything from craft beer brewpubs, to dark and sexy cocktail speakeasies. Truly something for everyone here.

What are some bars/lounges in Vancouver that you would suggest our readers to visit?

Depends on what they’re feeling in the mood for.

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Guy Stowell started his bartending career at 19, where he found his first job cleaning glasses at a pub in London. Fascinated by the endless possibilities in alcohol and spirits, he slowly moved around the industry. Four years ago, Guy moved to Canada with his wife and has been behind the bar of BaoBei for the past 3 years. I sat down with Guy and we chatted about the mixology/cocktail scene in Vancouver.

What is the bar scene like in Vancouver?

Guy Stowell, BaoBei

Guy Stowell, BaoBei

It’s quite different between Vancouver and London. There are limitations on the type and brands of alcohol we could use here for mixing, so bartenders are challenged to be more creative with the recipes. The enormous support for local food producers also encourages bartenders to incorporate local ingredients in the cocktails.

Customers in Vancouver also have a more sophisticated palate, not just with food but also with their cocktail selection. They are open to trying different things, and pay attention to food pairings. We have moved away from sweet cocktails for a number of years now, more focused on sours, but what’s also catching on is earthy, medicinal spirits. Bartenders have been drinking these for awhile now, because we have to try different spirits to look for inspirations, so it’s great to see that customers have started to pick that up.

What are a few bars that you would suggest us to visit?

There are many great bars in Vancouver so depending on what you like/feel like, there’s always something for you. The ones I’m suggesting here all have a great cocktail list, some classics, some non-pretentious, some with unique regional items (e.g. Tiki cocktails): (more…)

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In 1862, New Westminster was granted the third brewery license in BC, and from then on, the city has had a proud tradition of brewing. New West even had what I would call a “Beer Baron”, in Nels Nelson. Nelson consolidated the brewing in New West and was even granted a special exemption during prohibition to brew beer for export (much of which was illegally sold in New West anyway). That, along with a special brewing license granted after prohibition was lifted, helped Nelson become one of the richest and most influential figures in the city. You can still see the mansion he built in 1913 at 127 Queens Ave.

Eventually, Nelson sold his business and over time it transformed until we ended up with a Labatt brewery at the corner of Columbia and Brunette. And that didn’t last forever, either, as it closed in 2005, bringing to a close the brewing tradition of New Westminster.

Enter: Steel & Oak Brewing Co.

I first heard about Steel & Oak on October 1, 2013, when they tweeted “#CraftBeer is coming to #NewWest!”.  I was, shall we say, excited. And that was even before I found out they’re a mere 5 minute walk from my place.

Inside Steel & Oak Brewing Co.

Fast forward 8 ½ months and countless brewery building pictures on Instagram, and S&O is getting ready to open their doors.

Steel & Oak Coasters

I had the opportunity to meet with co-owner Jorden Foss a few days ago for a chat and tour of the brewery. (more…)

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As an attendee of the upcoming Food Bloggers of Canada conference I was invited to a Meet & Greet at Barbara-Jo’s Books to Cooks (a venue which I should’ve visited/discovered a long time ago!) with Ruth Reichl as she goes on a North American book tour to promote her latest novel Delicious. I was excited to meet not only because she has been the Editor of Gourmet magazine for ten years, but also because she only just recently appeared on the Top Chef Canada finale.

Delicious and Gourmet Magazines

Ruth shared some behind-the-scene details of what happened on the show finale and what she thought of the three finalists. I thought Ruth could be intimidating (scarred by The Devil Wears Prada) but she was so down to earth, approachable and easy to chat with!

Me and Ruth Reichl

At the event we also got to meet fellow local bloggers whether they be recipe developers or restaurant reviewers like me. I look forward to connecting with them again soon.

Meet & Greet at Barbara-Jo’s Books to Cooks

As parting gift (gifts actually) we each got a copy of Delicious, but we were also treated to a collection of Ruth’s favourite Gourmet magazine covers. (more…)

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Through the organizer of Dishcrawl‘s “A Taste of Vancouver’s West End” on June 19, I had a chance to meet and interview Chris Whittaker, the executive chef of Forage at the Listel Hotel.

Forage Vancouver

Forage Vancouver

Originally from Thunder Bay, Ontario, Chef Chris Whittaker has been in the industry for 22 years. Starting as a dishwasher at 14, Chris worked his way up and really enjoyed his journey growing as a chef. His experience working at the largest convention hotel in northwest Ontario allowed him to learn making everything from scratch, building a great foundation for what he has become to be.

Chris moved to the west coast in 1999 and worked for several large hotels and restaurants. In 2007, he landed a job at the Listel Hotel, a boutique hotel on the West End which strives to be the greenest hotel. Chris has been there ever since.

“I hunt, I fish, I garden; we keep two honey bee hives at home. We compost all food waste and we recycle. That’s also how I operate my kitchen. The progression of my career and the shift to local cuisine 8 or 10 years ago just made this a natural fit,” says Chris. (more…)

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Some of you may already know, I’m a huge fan of Top Chef Canada, so I felt honoured and was excited to be invited to the viewing party of the finale at the beautiful Cactus Club in Coal Harbour. Cactus Club’s own Chef Matthew Stowe was still in the running for the title “Canada’s Top Chef.”

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At the event we were treated with dishes that Chef Matthew made in earlier episodes: Curry Cauliflower Soup, Pork Slider, and Roasted Banana and Coconut Tapioca.

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We also tried one of Cactus Club’s latest cocktail, Watermelon Margarita.

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Did he win?
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Since Lisa had to get all creative and do something different, I guess I’ll follow suit. They aren’t in any order, and some are just random thoughts off the top of my head.

  • Chinese black vinegar – I love this stuff. And I use it on a number of  inappropriate things, but mostly Asian style food.
  • Ketchup – This to me is the western version of the black vinegar. Once again it gets put on a number of things where ketchup doesn’t belong (for example, a hard boiled egg).
  • Warming up cookies – It’s not that I wouldn’t eat them cold, but it’s like having plain toast vs toast with butter. Nuking a chocolate chip cookie for a few seconds in the microwave just makes it so much softer and more delicious.
  • Microwave dinners – I bet this isn’t something you’d expect on my list. But for reasons I can’t even explain, this is a guilty pleasure for me. I suppose it’s similar to why some people like instant noodles.
  • The “perfect mouthful” – Anytime I take a mouthful of the food I’m eating, I like to get an even mix of the ingredients. For example, if I’m having stew, I can’t eat just a piece of meat without some potatoes in the same mouthful. And there would be times where I’m shoving more food into my mouth before I even chew what I just put in, to get an “even” mouthful. I know… I’m nuts.
  • Drinking with food – Yes I realize this is bad for digestion, but I NEED to do this, especially with dry foods. If I don’t get to drink something with… let’s say a PB&J sandwich, I might as well just not eat it.
  • Eating alone – When I’m at home, I love eating alone. I’d do the terrible thing of sitting in front of the TV or the computer and watch shows, and loving every second of that freedom. However I can’t imagine eating at a restaurant by myself, even if it’s fast food.
  • Eating in car – A lot of car guys are adamant about no food in their cars. I, on the other hand, really enjoy picnicking in a car, if the passenger doesn’t spill a cupful of lemonade on my carpet. Ask me what else I like to do in a car.
  • Late night eating – Late night snacking is for girls, real men have late night eating. I don’t just grab a couple pieces of chocolate or some chips; I’d make myself a meal some nights. On the other hand I don’t eat in the mornings.
  • Carbs and Vegetables – Strangely, the most important part of a meal for me is carbs. I could have a KFC Double Down and not be full after because it didn’t have any buns. I also really like my vegetables. I prefer to have a good veggie/fruit to meat ratio in every meal.
  • Breakfast – Breakfast is brilliant. I love breakfast. However it’s not the time of the meal that I enjoy, but the content. I don’t eat in the morning, but I love eggs, bacon, sausages, pancakes, waffles, fruits, and all other common ingredients in a western breakfast. And don’t get my started on a traditional Tianjinian breakfast with a Chinese donut crepe and tofu soup. I’d KILL for some. (more…)

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