On Digging Into A Big Indian Pre-Shift Feast At Mount Pleasant’s “Acorn”

Cheers

by Ken Tsui | In the dog days of summer, chef/co-owner Brian Skinner and the kitchen team at Main Street vegetarian mainstay The Acorn are sweating it out as they prepare for another busy night. But before it all goes down, the staff are banding together and keeping to the spirit of making great vegetarian food by tapping into Indian traditions, the O.G. of vegetarian cuisines.

This afternoon’s meal is an elaborate one. It’s a long list scrawled on paper and simply labelled “Indian Staff Meal”. It’s an involved feast with plenty of components that tasks each staffer with making some of the classics, among them raita, papadums, khadi, palak paneer, grilled apricot chutney, mango lassis, pickled eggplant salad and pakoras of zucchini and cauliflower.

Brian leads the charge, guiding the crew based on lessons learned during his time in London. Today, the palak paneer (pureed spinach with crisped Indian cheese) is his responsibility. As the team puts the finishing touches on their respective contributions, the mixture of heat and movement looks and feels like controlled chaos, making it hard to keep track of all the fragrant and colourful plates coming out of the kitchen.

Meanwhile, co-owner Shira Blustein is holding court in the dining area. As the food comes out, the team gathers around her table to feast. Before long, Brian himself gets to lean into the spread. “I have a feeling I’m going to overeat…”

  • Brian and Rob keep it light in the kitchen
    Brian and Rob keep it light in the kitchen
  • Peter crisps up the pappadums
    Peter crisps up the pappadums
  • Al makes mango lassi
    Al makes mango lassi
  • Heather fries up the pakoras
    Heather fries up the pakoras
  • Brian pours in the spinach for palak paneer
    Brian pours in the spinach for palak paneer
  • Chef Brian Skinner salts the palak paneer
    Chef Brian Skinner salts the palak paneer
  • Grilled apricots for a chutney
    Grilled apricots for a chutney
  • Heather whips up the pakora batter
    Heather whips up the pakora batter
  • Paneer is poured into the pureed spinach
    Paneer is poured into the pureed spinach
  • Pappadums
    Pappadums
  • Yoghurt is poured into the spice mix
    Yoghurt is poured into the spice mix
  • Pickled eggplant and cucumber salad
    Pickled eggplant and cucumber salad
  • Rob gives the chana masala a stir
    Rob gives the chana masala a stir
  • Chef Skinner gives Rob a hand
    Chef Skinner gives Rob a hand
  • Al serves up the lassi
    Al serves up the lassi
  • Staff sets up for staff meal
    Staff sets up for staff meal
  • Mango lassi is served
    Mango lassi is served
  • Chef Skinner chatting during staff meal
    Chef Skinner chatting during staff meal
  • Rice is pass around
    Rice is pass around
  • Rob serves ones of the crew
    Rob serves ones of the crew
  • Rob shares rice
    Rob shares rice
  • Staff meal is served family style
    Staff meal is served family style
  • Rob's plate of goodies
    Rob's plate of goodies
  • Acorn staff meal spread
    Acorn staff meal spread
  • Shira sets the table
    Shira sets the table
  • A bite of staff meal
    A bite of staff meal
  • Shira and the team have a laugh
    Shira and the team have a laugh
  • Acorn | 3995 Main St. | Mount Pleasant | 604-566-9001 | www.theacornrestaurant.ca
    Acorn | 3995 Main St. | Mount Pleasant | 604-566-9001 | www.theacornrestaurant.ca

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There are 6 comments

  1. East Indian? Uhhhhh. It’s called “Indian.” The term “East Indian” implies there are native “Indians” West of India. Think that through.

  2. All “Indian”. The misnomer “East Indian” is a hangover from when people, here in Canada, referred to First Nations as “Indian”.

  3. While I agree that it is colonial in etymological origin (like “South Africa”, for example), it is neither a Canadian term nor one out of general usage (a “hangover”) as you contend. Nevertheless, I see your point. I’ve accordingly changed the headline and made a note in our style guide. Thanks for reading.

  4. I should have been more clear—no, it is not Canadian, it is North American—although it is very uncommon in Europe. And many contentious terms have not fallen out of use, surely that does not mean that we should not use them. It’s usage is offensive: ask many Indians. Most would prefer “Indian” to “East Indian”; employed as a marker to distinguish those from India with First Nations here (or Native Americans, as it may be in the US).