If you think that tuna comes from a can and kimchi is just fiery fermented cabbage, well, you’ve got a lot to learn. One taste of the tender albacore tuna and Moroccan carrot kimchi (pictured, right) plated by executive chef Jonathan Chovancek is all it takes and you’ve been schooled. Although his hands-on fermentation workshop is sold out, you can get a crash course on the topic from Chef Chovancek at the BC Place Talk & Taste (Friday, May 1 from 6 p.m. to 6:40 p.m.; tickets, $7).
I know: it’s hard to resist the buttery croissants or cheese and green onion scones that are lovingly baked at Beaucoup Bakery & Café. But if you haven’t torn into a sweet-meets-salty Kouign-Amann (pictured), you’ve been missing out — big time. Bakery owner and Paris-trained pastry chef Jackie Kai Ellis has perfected the art of creating this “laminated” Breton butter cake with its caramelized exterior. Don’t let its tongue-tangling name deter you (it’s pronounced “queen ah-mahn”). Be sure to snap one up (who says you can’t have dessert first?) before they’re all gone.
Pinnacle Harbourfront Hotel (1133 West Hastings St.): Wednesday, April 29, 4:30 p.m. to 5:45 p.m. ($45)
Sebastian & Co. Fine Organic Meats: To-die-for Tacos
When a chef-turned-butcher brings his culinary chops to the table, all bets are off. Especially when you’re talking about Sebastian Cortez, proprietor of his eponymous organic meats company. On the plate (pictured, right): a 12-hour smoked brisket taco, which showcases the succulence of slow-cooked beef. Tacos might seem like simple fare, but Sebastian’s blend of spices, salsa verde, pickled onion and his all-natural chimichurri sauce (soon to be bottled for sale) are a complex combination that earned my distinction as the best thing I ate at the event.
Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts (101–1515 West 2nd Ave.): Wednesday, April 29, 1 p.m. to 2:15 p.m. ($45)
Edible Canada: Wild at Heart
Some pork belly preparations can be too fatty for finicky types, but not when this unctuous ingredient is left in the deft hands of Edible Canada’s culinary tour-de-force. Tender pork is compressed into a perfect square, glazed with B.C. birch tree syrup and married with a vibrant-green pesto made from foraged stinging nettles(pictured). A sprinkling of radishes brings a dash of heat and pleasing crunch to the plate. If you’re lucky enough to sample this dish, follow the advice the chef gave me: taste a bit of everything in one bite.
See the chef:
Canadian Flavours Gala: Join chefs from some of Canada’s most celebrated restaurants, including Edible Canada, at this event that pays tasty tribute to Canadian cuisine matched with wines from the Naramata Bench.
Terminal City Club (837 West Hastings St.): Thursday, April 30; 7 p.m to 9:30 p.m ($125 plus tax)
Bao Bei: Still Life on a Plate
It wouldn’t be an overstatement to call Bao Bei chef Joël Watanabe (pictured above) an artist. He dispels any old notions of Chinese food with his modern cuisine, serving up layers of flavours, colours and textures to create a composition that’s pleasing to both the palate and the eye. On the plate: beautifully marbled slices of beef rest atop crunchy fermented vegetables and an unexpected sauce made from aji amarillo chiles (a staple in Peruvian cuisine). The crowning glory is a glistening “pearl” made from apple (pictured, right).
See the chef:
Dinner Series: Dine with chefs Joël Watanabe of Bao Bei, and Michael Caballo and Tobey Nemeth (both from Edulis in Toronto).
Bao Bei (163 Keefer Street), Tuesday, April 28: seatings at 5:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. ($135
Sample the crème de la crème at EAT! Vancouver
First things first: Go to the EAT! Vancouver Food + Cooking Festival with an empty stomach and an open mind. Forget any preconceived notions you might have about tacos, kimchi, pork belly or even pastry. Now in its 13th year, Canada’s largest food festival shines a spotlight on Vancouver’s culinary rock stars, artisan food purveyors, vintners, craft brewers and more. Toronto chefs Anna Olson(pictured), Susur Lee and Mark McEwan will be here for the action, with Olson taking part in a culinary throwdown.
Want a taste of what you can look forward to at EAT! Vancouver? Here are a few of my favourite bites from the preview event, plus highlights of hands-on workshops, chef dinners and other events you won’t want to miss.
Janet Gyenes is a writer, editor, beverage columnist and co-founder of 70 magazine, an online travel publication. She has co-authored two travel guidebooks on Vancouver and has put her insatiable curiosity to work in words and photos, covering topics such as tasting sherry in Spain, mule-riding in Molokai, and tracking textile trends in Turkey. She regularly writes for BCLiving about food, beverage, design and more.