Twenty Questions With Rob Feenie

November 9, 2008 

Three things about your neighbourhood that make you want to live there: Our neighbourhood near UBC combines the best Vancouver has to offer. The neighbourhood is full of kids for my kids to play with, it’s close to the UBC Endowment Lands for trail rides on the bike and it’s close to the beach for walks with the dog.

The thing that you eat that is bad for you that you will never stop eating: I often tell young chefs to add ‘love’ to their cooking and many times that means add more butter. Having trained in France, you can never get enough butter.

Default drink: As a young chef, I spent time working and learning in Alsace and while I was there I learned to love their wine. So my default wine is Alsatian, especially the Gewurztraminers and Rieslings.

Favourite Vancouver bridge: Burrard, hands down. I love driving out of downtown after a long day and looking to the West and seeing an amazing sunset over English Bay. It reminds me why I love Vancouver.

Last place traveled: The entire executive group from Cactus Restaurants just went to Los Angeles, aside from meetings, we spent four full days visiting great restaurants and gathering new ideas and inspirations for Cactus’ menu.

Your ancestry: My family is Irish and I think I am pretty lucky for that.

What are you proud of: During my career I have had the opportunity to travel the world representing Vancouver and Canada and I have been really proud to show people the amazing food that comes from this region and is being made here.

Saddest thing about Vancouver: We live in one of the best places on earth and I find it really sad that sometimes we forget how lucky we are and take it for granted.

Food your mom makes better than anyone: Every Sunday night when I was growing up my mom made a roast, it was always the best meal of the week and I still love it when she makes roasts to this day.

The game you’re best at: Hockey – I’m not saying I’m ready to join the NHL or anything but our rec team does pretty well.

Mac or PC: PC

Favourite sports team: Being born in Burnaby, there is only one possible answer – The Vancouver Canucks!

Local person you admire most: Michel Jacob from Le Crocodile has been a friend and mentor to me for many years, he is even godfather to one of my kids.

The dish you’re proud of: I truly love what I do, so am very proud every time I hear someone enjoy a dish that I have made. Having said that, I was extremely proud of the crab ravioli that we made for Iron Chef America, it was a new take on a classic dish that helped us win the battle.

Town you were born in: I was born and raised in Burnaby and went to high school at Burnaby Central.

Album that first made you love music: Back in Black, AC/DC is my favourite.

The first three things you do every morning: Coffee is the first priority for me in the morning, then checking in with my wife and three kids and then a run or bike ride with the dog. Our house is pretty busy in the morning.

Luckiest moment of your life: As cheesy as it sounds, when I met my wife Michelle, she has changed my life is so many different ways – I am a very lucky guy!

IIce cream flavour: I love the combination of cream and caramel so I would say Haagen-Dazs’ Dulce de Leche.

Musical instrument you long to play: I am the best in the office at air guitar, so I think my musical calling is as a rock star.

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Robert Feenie is one of Canada’s most recognized and acclaimed independent chefs. Feenie’s interest in cuisine started during a high school exchange program in Europe and at 20, he attended the Dubrulle Culinary Institute in Vancouver. Following graduation he became a Sous-chef in some of this region’s top restaurants, notably Le Crocodile and the Cheery Stone Cove in Vancouver and The Rim Rock Café in Whistler. While at Le Crocodile he began a series of work and educational travels, or stages, throughout Europe and North America, starting in Alsace with Chef Emile Jung at Au Crocodile and Antoine Westermann at Le Buerehiesel, both Michelin three-star rated restaurants. In North America he worked with America’s top chef, Charlie Trotter, at Trotter’s Restaurant in Chicago, with Daniel Boulud at Restaurant Daniel and Jean-Georges Vongerichten at Jean-Georges in New York.

In 1995 Feenie opened Lumiere Restaurant in Vancouver to accolades from notable food critics around the world. Under Feenie, Lumière was named Vancouver’s Best Restaurant and Best French Restaurant an unprecedented six years in a row. In November 2000, Lumière became the first freestanding restaurant in Canada to receive the Relais Gourmand designation and in late 2003 Lumière became the first restaurant in Canada to be awarded the Traditions et Qualitè, the restaurant was also recognized with by Mobil Travel Guide with four-stars and the AAA Five Diamond Award. Also in 2003 Chef Feenie opened the Lumière Tasting Bar at the entrance to Lumière, immediately sweeping the various restaurant awards for best new restaurant. In the summer of 2003 he opened Feenie’s, a more casual Canadian Bistro right next door to Lumière.

In addition Feenie has published three cookbooks: Rob Feenie Cooks at Lumiere, Lumiere Light, and Feenie’s. He also starred on New Classics with Chef Rob Feenie on Food Network Canada for five seasons. In 2005 Feenie became the first Canadian to win on the popular television show Iron Chef America by defeating Chef Masaharu Morimoto.