Wendy Underwood On The Evils Of Bad Garnish

January 20, 2009.

Each week, Scout poses 60 questions to a local who has made life in BC that much more interesting. They pick and choose. The minimum response is 20 answers. A Rorschach test, for sure…

Wendy Underwood is Tourism Vancouver’s Manager of Travel Media Relations, International & Trade, which is an official sounding way of saying that she pitches Vancouver as a tourism destination to media around the world, and then helps them get their story when they’re in our city. Previous to her current position, Wendy was a lifestyle journalist, writing for local outlets such as Vancouver magazine, The Georgia Straight and Western Living. Her first professional job was marketing prosthetic limbs. She likes her current job more.


Scout Q&A

Three things about your neighbourhood that make you want to live there: I live just off Main Street. What do I love? Lots of small, independent stores and restaurants; cask ales on Sunday at The Whip; and the cavalcade of auto collision repair options should I ever need them.

The thing that you eat that is bad for you that you will never stop eating: Bacon. But really, is it that bad?

Default drink of choice: Gin and tonic

Favourite wine varietal: Riesling

One thing you’d like to change about Vancouver: All the apologising about the rain. New York and Sydney both get about the same amount of rain as us, but no one there dwells on it in the same way.

Bartender who could sell you anything: One that is behind a bar

Cheap place for dinner: Hawker’s Delight at Main and King Ed. Delicious Malaysian food.

Book you’re reading: Alice Waters and Chez Panisse by Thomas McNamee. My husband bought it for me for Christmas.

Last place traveled: Las Vegas for a friend’s birthday

Cliche that you use too often: Not sure that it’s a cliché as such, but I love the saying, “A lack of planning on your behalf does not constitute an emergency on my behalf.” In fact, I should use that one more often.

Your ancestry: British Australian

Best bar stool in the city: One that has a footrest for people of normal height and a hook for my purse and coat.

The thing that makes you the angriest: Inappropriate garnish. There is nothing that will fill me with more pre-coffee rage than a slice of orange or cantaloupe on my eggs.

Saddest thing about Vancouver: The disparity between rich and the so very poor, and not knowing what you can do about it as a conscientious citizen.

Best fine dining restaurant in the city: I do love Blue Water Café. In the first year of my job at Tourism Vancouver, I hosted media there about once a month – it was my second home. I’m just saying, but I know my way around a seafood tower…

Food your mom makes better than anyone: My mum’s Yorkshire pudding are better than anyone’s. I believe that lard is the essential ingredient there.

Talent you wish you possessed: The ability to carry a tune. This is also the talent that my karaoke partners wished I possessed.

Canadian you admire most: My husband, Kurtis Kolt. He’s a good ‘un.

The game you’re best at: Media relations

The thing you wished people cared more about: Spelling. Especially on menus and store awnings.

The dish you’re most proud of: My pavlovas. The pavlova is shrouded in reverence and mystique in Australia. If someone makes one for a family barbecue, a hush falls over the crowd as it’s announced: “Auntie Gail’s made a pavlova, everyone!” They’re actually pretty easy, but it still gives me a lot of satisfaction when I manage to pull one off.

Town you were born in: Leicester, UK

Quality you admire most in yourself: I am generous with knowledge and experience. I try to follow the lead of others who have taken the time to give me some great advice over the years. Although some people wish that I would just shut up.

Album that first made you love music: I was a big fan of Wings’ Mull of Kintyre when I was wee, followed shortly thereafter by Art Garfunkel’s Bright Eyes. I’m sorry to say that after that I regressed and was quite taken by the classic album Father Abraham in Smurfland.

Luckiest moment of your life: Becoming friends with a girl from Vancouver while I was working at a pub back in Perth, Australia. She offered up her couch should I ever be in Vancouver, which is how I ended up here. This city has been kind to me.

Favourite book as a child: All of them. I was spectacularly nerdy.


  • http://www.cbc.ca Lisa

    This is not the right place for this comment, but since you mention Blue Water Cafe…I was so disappointed by my experience there. The service was horrible and the food was only so-so. I know restaurants don’t operate like they usually do during DOV, but why bother doing it if you can’t measure up? End rant. Sorry.

  • Yoo Choi

    Wendy!!!!!!! I thought you were lost forever! I should have just tracked Kurtis down, but my brain didn’t function that!
    So cool to read your interview, I have fond memories of you and Kurtis and Mark dropping in to Velvet Cafe for dinner visits.
    So glad you are well and I see your humor is still intact. Your answers had me smiling all along and then I read Kurtis’ name and realized who I was reading. Too awesome!
    Love to karaoke with you anytime, especially since you sound as talented as I in harmony.

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