Proof That Art History Degrees Aren’t Useless

One or twice a week Scout poses 60 questions to a local who has made life in BC that much more interesting. They pick and choose which ones they’d prefer to answer, with a minimum response rate of 20. A Rorschach test, for sure…

32 year old restaurateur James Iranzad was born in Iran and came to Vancouver in 1983 by way of London, England. He holds a BA in Art History and Shakespearean Studies from UBC, which is precisely what you’d need if you were the co-owner and operating partner of Corkscrew Entertainment, the parent company that reigns over the Hell’s Kitchen, Flying Tiger, and Abigail’s Party restaurants in Kitsilano.

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Scout Q&A

Three things about your neighbourhood that make you want to live there: Kitsilano – The beach, proximity to my restaurants (and their proximity to my home), Granville Island Public Market.

The thing that you eat that is bad for you that you will never stop eating: Bacon.

Default drink of choice: Guinness.

Drink you’ll never have again: Prairie Fire.

The one place you’d move to: San Francisco.

Favourite wine varietal: This changes monthly: New World semillon (white); tempranillo (red). Champagne is a constant.

The person you can imitate: The Swedish Chef from the Muppet Show. Only when I’ve had a couple.

One thing you’d like to change about Vancouver: The homelessness.

Bartender who could sell you anything: Jay Jones.

Cheap place for dinner: The Sushi Bar, 4th & Burrard.

Book you’re reading: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.

Last place traveled: Maui.

Biggest fear: Failure, failure, failure.

Cliche that you use too often: I like to high five people. A lot.

Dead film actor you wish was still making pictures: Marlon Brando.

Best sneaker in the world: Chuck Taylor’s.

Place in BC that you love escaping to: Naramata.

Under what circumstances would you join the army: Too personal and too scary to articulate.

Your paternal grandfather’s personal story: Excellent question. He was an amazing man and the first grandparent I lost. Born 1919. Raised on the Iran-Russia border working back & forth as needed through World War II. Self-made success in agricultural machinery. Stripped of everything by the Iranian Revolution in 1979 and forced to uproot his family to London, England, where I was raised and hold some of my fondest childhood memories – with him. He passed away in his home in London in 1999 just before my father and I were to fly over to surprise him for his 80th birthday.

Best bar stool in the city: Abigail’s Party (pardon the heavily biased and self-serving answer).

Dumbest purchase ever: A signed copy of John Cage’s Silence for $150. Definitely a fake signature but I wanted to believe it was real so badly. It still annoys me.

What are you proud of: Sustaining the growth of three wonderful and completely different restaurant concepts and working with an amazing staff whilst being an engaged husband & father.

The thing that makes you the angriest: Intolerant, deaf, unwavering conservatism.

Saddest thing about Vancouver: The homelessness.

Most challenging part of owning a business: Avoiding compromises beckoned by money.

Best fine dining restaurant in the city: Who goes to fine dining these days? La Quercia gets my current vote as the finest in dining I partake in.

Your nickname growing up: Jimmy Hotpants.

Talent you wish you possessed: X-ray vision.

The trend you wish you never followed, but did: Getting a cell phone.

Musical instrument you long to play: The cello.

Sport you gave up: Soccer.

Foreign politician you most admire: Easy. US President Barack Obama. Even typing that makes me happy. Senator Russ Feingold is pretty cool too.

The game you’re best at: Poker, although my friends would dispute that.

Best gallery in the city: The private gallery which seems to most regularly have work that catches my interest is the Equinox Gallery. Having said that, I think Kathleen Bartels has done a phenomenal job with the VAG since day one of taking over and I love going there.

Somewhere within an hour of Vancouver that is worth checking out: The pipeline walk at Iona Beach, behind the airport.

The number of fist fights you’ve been in: Hahaha. Lots, but none recently :)

The scariest situation you’ve ever been in: Carjacking, shotgun to the head. Bad times.

Three things of no (monetary) value that you will keep until you die: The music box my dad gave my mum when I was born; a 13-year-old letter from my wife (then-girlfriend) calling me out on my shit; a picture of me and my then-newborn son asleep together.

Local person you admire most: Vikram Vij. He manages to balance modesty (in the form of not over-stretching as much as would be tempting to do with his business) with the great ambition necessary to push his properties and the wholesale side of his business as much as he has and will continue to do. He also creates fucking unbelievable flavours, charms the knickers off of everyone, constantly considers the environment, his community and his peers, is a family man, knows how to party, and is successful by the most important of measurements in our industry: longevity. That’s pretty impressive.

The thing you’re ashamed of: Missing my grandfather’s funeral.

Best concert experience ever: Tom Waits at The Orpheum.

Aspect of your personality you wish you could change: My inability to make personal changes based on criticism of others.

How you waste time at work: Writing wine lists.

The thing you wished people cared more about: Where their food comes from.

The dish you’re most proud of: I make a legit puttanesca.

The thing that makes you the most nervous: Racial profiling.

Town you were born in: Tehran, Iran

Old television shows you can tolerate re-runs of: West Wing, The Wire, Entourage – nothing older.

First memory: Age three. Driving from Tehran to the Caspian Sea in the back seat of my parents car listening to Abracadabra by Steve Miller.

Quality you admire most in yourself: I am a good father.

Album that first made you love music: Beatles, The White Album.

Default junk food of choice: Salt & Pepper Kettle Chips crushed up into a bowl of plain yogurt.

The career path you considered but never followed: Law. Thank God.

The one country that you have no interest in ever visiting: North Korea.

Your top 3 films of all time: Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels, The Bourne Supremacy, Lost in Translation.

The first three things you do every morning: Check the bank accounts, play with my son, brush my teeth.

The thing you’re addicted to: Pâté.

Biggest hope: To live a long, healthy life of proportionate if not balanced joy between my personal and professional lives.

Luckiest moment of your life: Meeting my wife at a pigpen in the fall of 1992 (Grade 12).

Favourite book as a child: Catcher in the Rye.

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  • Katharine Manson

    I am a little freaked out about how much we have in common after reading your “60″. We have to talk about things other than the industry the next time we see each other.

  • Scout Magazine

    Ha! I thought the same thing, though I never left Tehran in ’79.

  • Kelly604

    Um, gorgeous much?

  • Hossein Katouzian

    I am so proud of you. I also remember you as a three year old when I was holding you in my arms. Job well done.
    Daeeee

  • http://3-beekmanplace.blogspot.com/ Rene

    I would love to see an expanded interview. This reads as the tip of a massive iceberg! Thanks for sharing!