A Big, Belated Thanksgiving Feast For The Crew At Gastown’s Bambudda

Justin-and-his-chicken

by Ken Tsui | Before Curtis Luk and his kitchen crew gear up for another night at Gastown’s Bambudda, they’re celebrating a late Thanksgiving, Bambudda style. “We didn’t really get a chance to celebrate,” says Curtis, “so we’re making up for it tonight.”

To build the menu, the kitchen team draws from their childhood Thanksgiving experiences. Chef Justin Ell replaces the traditional turkey with a pair of chickens stuffed with ‘nduja sausage; Chef Luk shares his aunt’s guarded recipe for sweet and sour pork; Tim Wong spends the afternoon cooking Chinese BBQ spare ribs; and Chef Zach Somjen ties the holiday theme together with his family’s classic dessert, a whopping sweet potato pie.

The cooks spend the afternoon leisurely preparing their dishes while tooling their usual service prep. In the final hour before the first customers arrive, Justin pulls the chickens out of the oven and stuffs them with soft boiled eggs marinated in chilis, black vinegar, and XO sauce, while Chef Somjen puts a torch to his pie’s marshmallow top and Curtis adds to the decadence by frying up cronuts with some leftover dessert dough. “This is how chefs get fat”, he laughs, tossing them into the fryer.

As the dishes come out of the kitchen, owner Ray Loy brings out a stack of plates and cutlery for the feast and the spread of food begins to look like a hodgepodge of seemingly unrelated traditions that ring true to the Thanksgiving experience inside a Chinese-Canadian household. The crew takes a minute to snap photos before grabbing individual plates and enjoying – together – their much deserved (if belated) Thanksgiving.

  • Curtis lays out potato for gratin
    Curtis lays out potato for gratin
  • Tim garnishes his BBQ spare ribs
    Tim garnishes his BBQ spare ribs
  • Stuffing the bird
    Stuffing the bird
  • Marshmallow
    Marshmallow
  • Deep frying the pork
    Deep frying the pork
  • A dusting of sugar on the cronuts
    A dusting of sugar on the cronuts
  • Staff snap a quick photo of staff meal
    Staff snap a quick photo of staff meal
  • Finishing the sweet and sour pork
    Finishing the sweet and sour pork
  • Sweet and sour pork
    Sweet and sour pork
  • Justin and his chicken
    Justin and his chicken
  • Staff Meal is served
    Staff Meal is served
  • Chinese Thanksgiving
    Chinese Thanksgiving
  • Drumstick score
    Drumstick score
  • Owner Ray Loy is satisfied with the meal
    Owner Ray Loy is satisfied with the meal
  • The crew has a laugh
    The crew has a laugh
  • Cronuts
    Cronuts
  • The finishing touches
    The finishing touches
  • Zach serves Chef Curtis a slice
    Zach serves Chef Curtis a slice

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