Digging Into A Provencal Feast Before Service Starts At Gastown’s L’Abattoir

Baking-team-digs-in

by Ken Tsui | It’s another fully booked night at L’Abattoir in Gastown and it’s chef Greg McCallum’s turn to make staff meal. Tonight, he’s preparing one of his favourite dishes: bouillabaisse.

Bouillabaisse is a Provencal fisherman’s soup and a French bistro classic. It starts with a fish stock made from the remnants collected from deboning fish for service. From there, McCallum sweats chopped fennel, onion and rutabaga before pouring in tomatoes. As these cook, he makes rouille – a sauce (and essential companion of any proper bouillabaisse) consisting of saffron, mayonnaise, garlic, fresh herbs, and olive oil.

Once the vegetables have softened, McCallum pours in the fish stock. Waiting for the stock to come to a boil, he busies himself steaming mussels. As they begin to open, he fishes them out, pouring the briny mussel liqueur into the pot of simmering bouillabaisse. Nothing goes to waste in this soup.

With the bouillabaisse finally coming to a boil, McCallum removes the big pot from the heat and adds off-cuts of seafood collected during prep. These include cod belly and “ugly scallops”; bivalves deemed too misshapen for a diner’s plate. He lets the residual heat from the pot gently poach the seafood, bringing it all into the dining room and putting fresh herbs and the steamed mussels atop the pot of soup.

Pastry chef Hilary Prince follows him with a lemon tart, a batch of brownies, and freshly baked French bread. The other cooks follow Hilary and Greg like the Pied Piper just as barman Shaun Layton arrives with a big pot of boozy punch. And so, with bowls and drinks at hand and dollops of rouille spread on big chunks of bread, the staff dig in.

  • Chopping Fresh Herbs
    Chopping Fresh Herbs
  • Chef Greg McCallum
    Chef Greg McCallum
  • Building the base for the soup
    Building the base for the soup
  • Adding the fish stock
    Adding the fish stock
  • Potatoes are almost ready
    Potatoes are almost ready
  • Tasting the bouillabaisse
    Tasting the bouillabaisse
  • Mussel Liqeur
    Mussel Liqeur
  • Stirring the bouillabaisse
    Stirring the bouillabaisse
  • Adding Scallop and Fish
    Adding Scallop and Fish
  • Adding Fresh Herbs
    Adding Fresh Herbs
  • Steaming Mussels for the Stew
    Steaming Mussels for the Stew
  • Finishing the Stew with Mussels
    Finishing the Stew with Mussels
  • Serving the Rouille
    Serving the Rouille
  • Staff wait for the meal
    Staff wait for the meal
  • Staff Grab Soup Bowls
    Staff Grab Soup Bowls
  • Chef McCallum tries the stew
    Chef McCallum tries the stew
  • Staff serves up punch
    Staff serves up punch
  • Cocktail
    Cocktail
  • Some staff take certain precautions
    Some staff take certain precautions
  • A Ladle of Bouillabaisse
    A Ladle of Bouillabaisse
  • Baking team digs in
    Baking team digs in
  • Rouille with French Bread
    Rouille with French Bread
  • Staff enjoys the meal
    Staff enjoys the meal
  • Staff Digs In
    Staff Digs In
  • Shaun Layton enjoys his punch
    Shaun Layton enjoys his punch
  • Staff enjoy dessert
    Staff enjoy dessert
  • Lemon Tart and Brownies
    Lemon Tart and Brownies

EAT MORE VANCOUVER STAFF MEALS

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