We’re big fans of executive chef David Wong (Bocuse D’Or Canadian competitor) and manager Chad Clark (ex-Feenie’s), so while we’ve been hotly anticipating the arrival of small independents like Bao Bei and Corner Suite, we’ve also been quietly stoked for the coming of Oru in the new Fairmont Pacific Rim downtown. The hotel has just opened – running on 30+% occupancy until Thursday, when they hit 100%. Thursday is D-Day for Oru as well. I’ve just been given the grand tour, checking out the already opened Giovane cafe and the lobby bar (and raw bar), as well as the restaurant itself, currently a hive of fevered activity. Though it might look like Oru is long from finished, the kitchen is seasoned and fired up, the menus have been tested and priced (viewable on Chefs Table Talk), and the front of house construction appears to be down to clean up and final fixture installation.
The following video includes an interview with the chef (at the end) on the restaurant’s authentic Pan-Asian menu…
It’s a big, voluminous space (8,000 sq feet altogether) that includes 2 chefs tables of 6 in front of the kitchen pass, a really cool cut-out, low-slung 12 seat communal table topped with grey marble (the place is weighed down with marble), a private room for 14, two patios (the lower floor outdoor space holds 50-75), and a flood of natural light enhancing the near-waterfront view. The dining room and adjacent Sky Bar lounge area seat 140. Upstairs, there are 3 banquet rooms (300, 200, and 150) and an open reception area with a capacity for 400+. The kitchen(s) are massive and pristine, including a tandoori oven, pizza oven, the biggest garde manger station I’ve ever seen, and every bit of kitchen equipment you’d expect in a top shelf operation. All told, chef David Wong oversees a 38 person crew. Phew. As he says in the interview above, 4 hours sleep is plenty.
Here’s what we wrote about the place when we first broke the news of it back in March of 2009.
The upcoming Fairmont Pacific Rim hotel will soon announce its plans for a restaurant. The not-yet-finished hotel has saddled up with the local design and architecture firm MGB, and together they are building a new, upscale, street-level swank expression of hyper modern BC. It’s the full-on fantasy model of clean lines and ocean zephyrs, a gambit for local favour and tourist hearts and minds.
Oru, as it’s called (from the Japanese: “To Fold”), will see plenty of Asian influence, a hodge podge of inspirations that tour the Ring of Fire. It will capitalise “on Vancouver’s multicultural vibe, with a focus on traditional dishes from Pacific Rim Countries authentically prepared utilizing locally sourced and responsibly harvested ingredients.” Not unlike “C” Restaurant, I suppose, only without Quang Dang or Robert Clark (no chef reveal yet), or indeed the affections of most concierges in town (it’s a hotel, after all). I really hope it’s good, as we run a deficit of first rate quasi-waterfront restaurants in this here waterfront town.
The designers have the run of the concept, from brand and chairs to art installations and schematics. A 180ft long and 5ft wide light sculpture by local origamist, Joseph Wu, will dominate the dining room. An 8 inch thick wooden wall of reclaimed lumber will hide a wine tasting room and a private room.
They will open “in advance” of the Olympics, which likely means in the weeks just prior.
Once again, should you want to browse through Oru’s menus, you can at in the Chefs Table Talk forum.
Break a leg.
All was well at last week’s media dinner to showcase Canada’s team for Bocuse d’Or: chef David Wong and apprentice Grace Pineda. The room was packed, the glassware sparkly, the team ready to go.
The only discordant note? We were at Moxie’s Classic Grill on Robson.
The Alberta-based CFD chain is the title sponsor for the team, which will compete Jan. 27-28, 2009 in Lyon, France.
But don’t judge, haters. In France, when a team is picked to compete in the Bocuse d’Or, their lives are put on hold: they take a hiatus from their jobs and are sponsored in their pursuit of a win at the high-profile culinary competition.
That has never been the case in this country. Most people don’t know a thing about it, and previous teams have had to work their training and practice sessions around their full-time cooking jobs.
Moxie’s support is allowing Wong (an instructor at The Art Institute of Vancouver) and Pineda (who was most recently working on her apprenticeship at the Fairmont Waterfront) to devote all of their time to practice runs, tweaking their secret recipes for the fish and meat platters, and searching out exactly the right ingredients. The two are being coached by Robert Allen Sulatycky, who flies north every other weekend from his executive cheffing duties at the Beverly Hills Hotel; and chef de mission Vincent Parkinson, exec chef at the Calgary Golf and Country Club.
Pineda says the restaurant chain has also made a commitment to getting the word out, and is doing a great job of publicizing it, including hosting those media dinners. She adds there are parallels between Bocuse rules that limit the age of the chef’s apprentice (22) and Moxie’s support and training for young staff.
I say good on them. But just one thing. Moxie’s president Laurids Skaarup, in a speech after the dinner, was unabashedly delighted to reveal that the first course: a miniature crab and scallop cake on a wonton spoon; and the last course: chocolate espresso mousse, were (gasp!) actually off the Moxie’s menu, and NOT from the planned Bocuse competition menu. They were tasty, it’s true. But Canadian chefs are capable of more inventive cuisine than that when it comes to world-class competition, and they will undoubtedly make us proud.
Go Team Canada!