AWESOME THING WE ATE #874: Guest Chef Dinner With Atelier’s Marc Lepine At “West”

by Andrew Morrison | A shockingly good dinner went down the other night at South Granville’s celebrated West Restaurant. This year’s Canadian Culinary Champion, Marc Lepine of Ottawa’s Atelier, was behind the line collaborating on courses with West chef Quang Dang. It’s hard to say which of their many dishes was the best of the lot (I was pretty partial to the slow-cooked pork belly with the ’09 Whitehaven “Greg” Series Pinot Noir), but the entirety was one of the best meals I’ve had so far this year, right up there with The Pointe at the Wick, Sonora Island Resort, and Chez Panisse. From start to finish, everything about it was seamless.

I had the good fortune to be on hand in Kelowna for the Culinary Championships this past February and was floored by what I saw and tasted from Lepine. The competition threw low food costs, harsh time constraints, mystery wines and a black box full of “who knows?” ingredients at the mild-mannered chef, yet he excelled. I mean this with no disrespect to his fellow competitors, but he quietly and confidently made short work of them. It was a freakish thing to behold, and it was not something that I or any of the other judges expected, especially with chefs like Rob Feenie and JeanPhillipe St-Denis in the mix. I’ve yet to eat at Atelier, but wow do I ever mean to!

Equally impressive on the evening, of course, was Dang and the whole operation at West. These days, most of the new restaurants that I test drive for work are decidedly more casual affairs, so it was a cozy thing indeed to see the orchestration of fine dining up close again. I couldn’t possibly do it every day, but from time to time it’s nice to be deliciously reminded of what the high end is all about. Take a look below…

  • Marc Lepine and Quang Dang
  • Beet amuse
  • Full house
  • This was, IIRC, a spherical amuse that popped vichyssoise in the mouth
  • Line
  • Counting first plates
  • Menu
  • West
  • Thiessen Farm Quail with heirloom tom tart, banyuls gel
  • Great pairings all night long from Owen Knowlton
  • Quang plating
  • Terrace Pine Mushrooms with 63C poached hens egg, pickled pine nuts, brown butter hollandaise
  • Expediting
  • Slow poached Sockeye with Dungeness crab and corn pudding, charred orion tarragon vinaigrette
  • Marc Lepine
  • Marinated Vancouver Island Sea Urchin with razor clams, black sesame, yuzu dashi gelee
  • Marc Lepine and Quang Dang
  • Slow cooked Sakura pork belly with Vietnamese herbs, puffed rice noodles, and aromatic broth
  • Quang Dang
  • Truffle and carrot-glazed elk striploin with truffle pancakes, carrots in textures, and natural jus
  • Pity we had to miss the dessert course of Coronation Grape Poached Pears by pastry chef Rhonda Viani (we were on the clock)

MORE AWESOME THINGS WE ATE

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Andrew Morrison lives and works in Vancouver as editor-in-chief of Scout, food columnist at the Westender, and National Referee & Judge at the Canadian Culinary Championships. He also contributes regularly to a wide range of publications, radio programs, and television shows on local food, culture and travel; collects inexpensive things; and enjoys rare birds, skateboards, cocktails, shoes, good pastas, many songs, and the smell of camp fires.

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