Jamie Maw On Drinking And Petty Thuggery

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…

Jamie Maw has spent the last year on sabbatical, but if his answers to all 60 of our questions are any indication, he’s revving up for more. Jamie will be inducted into the BC Restaurant Hall of Fame on March 30th at the new Convention Centre. He’ll join Chefs’ Table Society co-founder Sid Cross, and fellow directors Thomas Haas and Scott Jaeger at the podium. You pretty much know the rest–food editor of Vancouver magazine since the Crimean War and many places elsewhere in print and other media. In 2008, Jamie was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by Vancouver magazine. He was the founding editor of The Eating + Drinking Guide to British Columbia and co-editor of the bestselling cookbook, Vancouver Cooks.


Scout Q&A

Three things about your neighbourhood that make you want to live there: Well, we live a few blocks north of ForMiCa (Fourth Avenue between Milestones + Capers), chiefly because Jason is the barman at Quattro, we can almost stick our toes in the bay without getting out of bed, and there are only two Starbucks within a one-kilometre radius. I regularly commute to Kelowna, where the reasons are essentially identical, except the barman is Hank and it’s a lake.

The thing that you eat that is bad for you that you will never stop eating: Cold cuts, which food snots now call charcuterie, which of course is baloney.

Default drink of choice: I forget. Seriously though, I’m switching teams as Official Brand Ambassador because Heineken have been unstintingly frugal with logo-wear and green patio umbrellas recently, and the fine folks at Grolsch gave me a lovely pen for Christmas and promise a lifetime supply of shapely salad dressing bottles.

Drink you’ll never have again: Anything tinctured Curaçao blue.

The one place you’d move to: Buenos Aires.

Favourite wine varietal: Lager, chased with Malbec (see above), if the company’s any good.

The person you can imitate: Michael Caine.

One thing you’d like to change about Vancouver: Excerable table manners, i.e. the dreaded Kitsilano ‘droop and scoop’.

Bartender who could sell you anything: David Wolowidnyk at West and Mark Brand at Boneta. David should name a drink after himself; no doubt it would tatse great but ordering it could double as a useful sobriety test.

Cheap place for dinner: Phnom Penh

Book you’re reading: ‘The Young Stalin’, by Simon Sebag-Montefiore. It’s about a highly successful bank robber.

Last place traveled: Los Angeles—to be a judge on Hell’s Kitchen last week.

Biggest fear: Charity Dinners, or anywhere excess cash flow is caught chasing social validation. Remember excess cash flow?

Cliches that you use too often: ‘You are an unmitigated and indeed unnecessary paroxysm of delight, dear heart.’ ‘Life should be of a seamless sensuality interrupted only by brief bouts of commerce.’ ‘Tip Top’. ‘Well done’. Etcetera. ‘Etcetera’.

Dead film actor you wish was still making pictures: Michael Caine

Best sneaker in the world: The aptly named Bernie Madoff.

Place in BC that you love escaping to: K-Town.

Under what circumstances would you join the army: Only if Rob Feenie were made Chief Menu Architect and Pamela Anderson redesigned the summer uniforms.

Your paternal grandfather’s personal story: Head of Pepsi Cola in Quebec between the wars—pretty solid branding there.

Best bar stool in the city: I suffer stools gladly. Even after that last, compelling salmonella attack—the bane of all food writers. So the short answer is the stool next to the love of my life, if not counter intuitive bi-valves just yet.

Dumbest purchase ever: A warmish beer on the evening of August 30th, 1979. I learned a good deal from this bitter experience and have worked tirelessly never to repeat it.

What are you proud of: Our daughters; the love of my life; our lovely, lively friends.

The thing that makes you the angriest: False sense of entitlement. I’ve always preferred benevolent dictators.

Saddest thing about Vancouver: Gangs that can’t shoot straight; the homeless.

Most challenging part of owning a business: Changing drill bits at minus 25 degrees.

Best fine dining restaurant in the city: I can only be candid in my silence. But take faith: There are many more good ones out there than there are good food writers.

Your nickname growing up: Jim-Bob and other Scottish diminutives.

Talent you wish you possessed: I often wish I could write. Especially after reading the John Updike retrospective in The New Yorker this week.

The trend you wish you never followed, but did: Mutton chop sideburns in the early 70s. I do recall having to be more respectful of the upper reaches of the nubility. Mind you, when you’re 19 but look like Sir John A. Macdonald, anything remotely nubile would scatter fairly quickly. Fortunately, most of us shave now, even if The Globe still wanes and waxes.

Musical instrument you long to play: Actually, I’d like to play that annoying alpenhorn on the Ricola cough drop ads—on foggy days from the Lions Gate Bridge.

Sport you gave up: Rugby, Extreme Curling

Foreign politician you most admire: Carla Bruni

The game you’re best at: Attentively ignoring my peer-demo extol their golf exploits

Best gallery in the city: The VAG/No. 5 Orange

Somewhere within an hour of Vancouver that is worth checking out: Pasley Island.

The number of fist fights you’ve been in: Countless (see No. 31, above); my right hand is essentially shattered, now held together by baling wire, which might explain this slow response tonight.

The scariest situation you’ve ever been in: Please see No. 38 ‘Cougar Night at the Hotel Eldorado’, immediately below.

Three things of no value that you will keep until you die:

Badges of Honour:

  1. Several binders of letters from outraged restaurateurs, chefs, bus girls, neo-Nazi food punks et al, neatly divided into sections such as ‘Cease and Desist’, ‘Semi-Literate’, ‘Shocked and Appalled’, ‘Pre-Postal’ and my favourite category, ‘Post Nuclear—Over to You VPD!’—should I publish some of the better ones?
  2. A T-shirt custom made for Friday (Cougar) nights at the Hotel Eldorado Bar in Kelowna that reads ‘I’m Broke and I’m Hung Like a Hamster’;
  3. My fab collection of Duco cigarette lighters that just might reinvigorate The Festival of Light.

Local person you admire most: Shell Busey narrowly over Dr. Art Blister. I find Shell’s tips and techniques on home improvements and product referrals invaluable. Perhaps on second thought though, Vicki Gabereau, Barbara-jo McIntosh and Shannon Belkin, three of the wittiest observers and dining chums around.

The thing you’re ashamed of: Remaining chaste until I was 15.

Best concert experience ever: Long John Baldrey in our old barn—back when a thrill was a thrill, even in Paradise.

Aspect of your personality you wish you could change: Micro Management, a trait common to Virgos. I attend a weekly MM 12-Step program now, but it quickly morphed into a 96–step program.

How you waste time at work: Pretty much standard issue—drinking, petty thuggery, researching gout cures on the internet.

The thing you wished people cared more about: Offal.

The dish you’re most proud of: People tell me that my truffled scalloped potatoes are eerily reminiscent of the first time they made love properly.

The thing that makes you the most nervous: Nervous people. Decaffeinated coffee. They are not mutually exclusive.

Town you were born in: Vancouver. With the fuselage of an Airbus, they called me ‘The Miracle on the Fraser’. I was the better part of 11 pounds (‘turkey for four!’ shouted Linda Meinhardt), then Dad took me straight up to get my driver’s license but didn’t actually speak to me for several years.

Old television shows you can tolerate re-runs of: Leave it to Beaver, Californication (Season 1), The Red Shoe Diaries—sorry, but I’m sensing a theme here, Ward.

First memory: Age three, crossing Canada on ‘The Canadian’ streamliner with Dad.

Quality you admire most in yourself: Unusually shapely calves.

Album that first made you love music: Dionne Warwick helped me find my inner San Jose. More love: Ive Mendes – ‘Baby Please Don’t Go.’

Default junk food of choice: Curbside hot dogs. With snappy skins like Ive’s drummer.

The career path you considered but never followed: Advertising. ‘Mad Men’ hasn’t helped—January Jones please copy.

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

Your top 3 films of all time: ‘Burnt by the Sun’, ‘La Grande Bouffe’, and ‘Willing Coeds 13’—they finally got it right.

The first three things you do every morning: Four, actually: Morning ablutions, check oxygen bottles, NYT, then French press coffee of a viscosity admiring the La Brea tar pits.

The thing you’re addicted to: Recently retired lingerie models, and for that matter, recently retired lingerie.

Biggest hope: Free beer, but as they say, only on days ending with the letter Y. But who, as they say, are ‘they’?

Luckiest moment of your life: Filling out this questionnaire.

Favourite book as a child: Stuart Little. The youngest Stalin.

There are 17 comments

  1. Mr. Maw has a dedicated following in the UK and some of us have detailed knowledge of his storied past. He remained chaste until he was about nine but then lost a foot race with Matron and was bedded in the Junior School sanatorium. He was a school legend.

    I was in Scott’s of Mount Street recently and saw Michael Caine impersonating Jamie Maw. He was quite good but not nearly as witty.


  2. Speaking as an Ex….I do remember (fondly) several of these lines….seems he’s still taking them out for a good trot….thankfully as they keep me laughing still! xoxo

  3. Jamie,
    You can still bring me to tears in very few words. It’s good to have you back in plain view. The Marlow photo turned out perfectly. Just a reminder to return my jacket. And thank you for the opportunity to be in touch with all other family members through this site.
    As Jamie’s older brother of seven years I witnessed his transformation from embryo, larva, pupa to imago. jamie started his early days as a curly-haired, sharp-eyed grade-skipper at Westcot Elementary. He advanced to a vancouver West-side prep school where he met Gus Stewart and the two of them were never quite the same.
    As I recall ,when off the rugby pitch the two of them majored in the art of the shinny. They tackled the long copper downspouts with agility at a girl’s school residence just two short blocks to the east.
    It was there that Jamie had his nib sharpened and the ink has been flowing smoothly ever since.
    Thanks for the wonderful words,

  4. …and Pete…wasn’t it back on the rugby pitch “where”…he used to say…”men were men and sheep were nervous!” ?

  5. So many good times shared with you, but I recall a particular soiree at the Marguerite house. While regaling the partygoers, you tumbled ass backwards into the cooler of Heineken (and champagne) in your finest attire! Could have been an omen…or at least an ode to the ‘cleansing ale’!
    xo vivster

  6. Nothing like a night on the town with Jamie. His 2nd, 3rd, 4th ……wind is legendary south of 49 degrees. You know you are in for it when the eyebrow climbs to the middle of his forhead and the feared words “fancy a cleansing ale mate” slide seductively between his lips.

    We even came up with a stunningly accurate short hand phrase to describe the experience for those that have been to see the elephant. “I’ve been Mawed!”

    Glad to see you keeping the writing chops sharp while we wait for the economy to start up the next hump Partner.

  7. Anybody that has spent any time with Jamie knows his 3 basic rules of life:

    1) Surround yourself with competent and attractive people.
    2) Enjoy life, and never lose sight of the fact that laughter keeps us all young.
    3) Know how to give killer parties, with world class food, exciting conversation and sufficient drink.

    He has a Fourth rule as well, and that is to call Angus in England in the middle of the night BC time and make Angus appreciate the distance between the two of them!

    I have been fortunate to have been around Jamie for all of these rules, and nobody carries them out with the grace, charm and dignity as he. Those who dont’t know him are missing this gift that I have been lucky enough to have been around. Oh, and the guy knows how to write a phrase or two as well.

    Thanks for the friendship, Jamie, and I look forward to many more years of productive business and friendship endeavors.


  8. Dear Mr. Maw

    As European Director of Heineken let me be the first to full fill your wildest fantasty….free Heine’s, which I am sure you will appreicate even though you’re close relationship to hampters may dampen some appetities.

    As a future hall of famer let me congratulate you on having the geat gift of not recognizing critics whoever they may be. Michael Caine should have taken lessons however I understand his is a pale imitation.

    Additionally, your ringing endorsement of our product should revive flagging sales from Munich to K Town- truly a world class accomplishment.
    Imagine a chance meeting at a favaorite watering hole leading to this….

    All the best,
    Ricardo y Carol

  9. Well it was a most serendipitous occasion when I sat on the bar stool next to Michael Caine at the Waterfront Wine Bar 2 years ago. I thought I’d heard it all before………. not even close!
    This minstrel of poetic prose (no schmaltzy colloquialisms), can slay any unwanted manuar or shaguar with such precision and deft I should declare it a new art form. In fact they never quite know what hit them and leave laughing or scratching their heads.
    We’ve had such fun of historical proportions ever since. And as Frank so aptly put it, the Legendary Triple-O Rules of Club 208 are never ever deviated from. In fact, we are all fortunate enough to experience another classic Maw experience at Club 208’s Oscar Galla Sunday evening starring Chez Jim. Yet somehow, in the most elusive of ways, we’ve been hoodwinked again. We are actually all at work, busy networking and building dreams, and solving problems, one would never know it because we’re all having such fun..
    K-Town ( or any town) has never quite been the same……… thank goodness!!! Michel Caine eat your heart out, but please, use your napkin.

    Fondly M2

  10. Indeed. The Jamie Maw Stimulus Plan puts Obama to shame!! Oh yeah, no bailouts allowed though.