The BC Restaurant Scene Moves Online With Chefs Table Talk

cts-card

The Chefs Table Society went Web 2.0 this morning with the redux of their website and the launch of ChefsTableTalk.com, a collaborative forum specifically designed for Vancouver’s professional chef and restaurant community and to further the society’s mission, which is to create “a foundation for the exchange of information between culinary professionals.”

As you know, the society supports “innovative and sustainable programs that will inspire, educate and nurture our chefs, our producers and our local food industry, all the while promoting standards of excellence with the aim of enhancing the reputation of our regional cuisine.” You can meet the board of directors here.

In addition to being a venue for the Board to keep everyone abreast of society events and news, Chefs Table Talk will be Vancouver’s primary conduit of information for those wanting to keep up to date with BC’s restaurant scene.

It is split into three forums. The first, dubbed “The Restaurant Scene”, is for industry news, while the second, called “In The Kitchen”, is specifically for cooking, and will be monitored by the best chefs in the province. The third is for technical assistance, should you ever require it.

Chefs Table Talk is designed to encourage its users to meet and stay in touch with friends, mentors, and colleagues from the trade. It is a social media platform, allowing members to create their own profiles with personal photos, web addresses, Twitter names, and all manner of contact information (you can also get society updates on Twitter by following us at VancouverCooks)

Moderating the website will be Jamie Maw, food writer, raconteur, and co-founder of the society; Neil Wyles, owner/chef of the Hamilton Street Grill and society treasurer; Owen Lightly, a cook at Au Petit Chauvignol and the blogger behind ButterOnTheEndive.com; Karen Hamilton, the new website’s chief architect and founder of TinyBites.ca; the team of gourmands at Foodists.ca; and little old me.

As of today, you can enter the forum here at Scout, at TinyBites.ca, or at ChefsTableSociety.ca. More sites are going to be joining this collaborative hosting project in the coming days and weeks. If you’d like to support the society by inserting a link button to Chefs Table Talk on your website or on your personal blog, email me at scoutmagazine [at] gmail [dot com] with the preferred dimensions and we’ll build one for you. Short of that, please add it to your blog roll.

The site officially launched at noon today, but we started letting some folks in yesterday. Whether or not you are a member of the society, please go on in, introduce yourself, and help us get started.

See you in there!

photo-by-mcs-028

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PS. I’ve shut down Scout’s own food forum, Tablespotting, to accommodate the coming of Chefs Table Talk. Thanks to all who signed up and participated. Once you’ve taken the new site for a spin, I’m sure you’ll agree that this is a major step up.

The Trade Tasting And Mike Bernardo’s Shoes

The shoe, sock, and carpet combo stylings of Vij's manager Mike Bernardo

I’d share what I tasted today, but that would be a chorus too busy for someone of my limited expertise to join. So I’ll get right tangential instead, and notice the absence of drunks.

It used to be, back in the day, that some industry folk would tie one on at either of the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival’s two Trade Tasting days. These were probably the days of the year when most front and back of house would find trouble sipping too much and then either pitching up at work with the linguistic gifts of hamsters or calling in violently ill, stuck in a Pan Pacific bathroom cubicle. Our stats show that several lifers have been fired for both. But how could any irresponsible person resist? Read more

Vancouver Galleries Diversify Their Portfolios

In the past month, I visited three art galleries, where I…

  • spilled coffee,
  • danced all over the gallery floor, and
  • drew on a man. In crayon.

I really should have been kicked out. But they all loved it and invited us all to come back for more.

Let me tell you more about these gallery visits and each of their quirky departures from the usual style of art appreciation…

Drink coffee, digest art

at Harrison Galleries

As much as I loved their window displays, I walked by the handsome brick of Yaletown’s Harrison Galleries almost every day for 4 years without daring to step inside. A few weeks ago, I did a double-take at the makeover of its corner window:

Intrigued, I paid a visit to their new cafe, The Buzz, for a cup of 49th Parallel brew and a lovely wild salmon panini (rife with capers, yum). The cafe storefront did much to lure me in. Inside, gallery owner Chris and cafe proprietor Terry made me feel even more welcome.

I strolled through the rest of the space and picked out my fave artists after my meal. It was surprising how inviting and accessible this gallery is–so different from my initial impressions. Lots of seating available to reflect on local works at your leisure.

Got kids? Let them sit and colour in the family room.

FUSE at the VAG

Playing with crayons isn’t just for kids, it seems. As part of the late-night festivities at FUSE, held every few months at the Vancouver Art Gallery, I recently scribbled over a man’s coveralls for what I assume to be a display of (very) interactive art. The rest of the gallery pulsed with electronic beats, dramatic performances, and some of the best contemporary works I’ve seen out of Vancouver in recent years. I didn’t have time to see it all so I’m tempted to renew my membership.

surveillance Braille

My voyeurism was slaked as much by the artwork as the sea of young, beautiful people that FUSE draws out. A recommended destination for a cool date or where to find a candidate for your next one.

Salsa Sundays at

Autumn Brook Gallery

My visit to Autumn Brook Gallery wasn’t for the art at all. Every other Sunday, the gallery is venue to a hopping salsa dance party held by organizers Jennifer and Stephen of SalsaVancouver.net. As an avid salsa dancer, I can attest to the unique exposure that the salsa crowd gets to local artists as they whirl and dip to Latin rhythms. They also have a fantastic floor for spinning.

If dance isn’t your thing, I’ve also heard good things about their gourmet weekend brunches.

As for me, my feet are having a hard time sitting still until the next Autumn Brook salsa party, which happens to be tomorrow.

So. Are you going to a plain ol’ gallery next time around, or one where you can eat, dance, or doodle your own works of art?

FUSE: colour me, baby Salsa Sundays at Autumn Brook Gallery Salsa Sundays at Autumn Brook Gallery Harrison Galleries connects with The Buzz café Salsa Sundays at Autumn Brook Gallery FUSE: tunnel of paper folds FUSE: surveillance Braille Salsa Sundays at Autumn Brook Gallery Autumn Brook Gallery: antipasto plate Salsa Sundays at Autumn Brook Gallery Inside Harrison Galleries Harrison Galleries: Inside The Buzz Harrison Galleries: choose your frame Salsa Sundays at Autumn Brook Gallery Salsa Sundays at Autumn Brook Gallery Harrison Galleries: Vijando a verte (Travelling to see you) Inside Harrison Galleries Harrison Galleries: Remnants of Ancestors (Lynn Canyon) Harrison Galleries: Inside The Buzz Inside Harrison Galleries Autumn Brook Gallery: roasted red pepper gazpacho Inside Harrison Galleries Autumn Brook Gallery: pasta salad Autumn Brook Gallery: Art & Gastronomy menu Harrison Galleries: Inside The Buzz Salsa Sundays at Autumn Brook Gallery Harrison Galleries: colouring station Harrison Galleries: salmon panini Salsa Sundays at Autumn Brook Gallery Autumn Brook Gallery: storefront Harrison Galleries: The Buzz Salsa Sundays at Autumn Brook Gallery Harrison Galleries: art books of Francine Gravel Salsa Sundays at Autumn Brook Gallery Harrison Galleries: sandwich board Salsa Sundays at Autumn Brook Gallery Autumn Brook Gallery: filet mignon medallions Inside Harrison Galleries Harrison Galleries: Inside The Buzz Salsa Sundays at Autumn Brook Gallery Inside Harrison Galleries Autumn Brook Gallery: sea bass

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Karen Hamilton is a writer, photographer, and maker of websites. Her exploration of all things edible in the Lower Mainland is diarized at tinybites.ca.

A Night At Raincity Grill

December 14, 2008 

100 Mile Tasting Menu at Raincity Grill celebrates Pemberton

Nothing gives me greater pleasure at the dinner table than to appreciate local bounty with the very people responsible for its harvest. It was therefore my privilege to dine alongside Anna Helmer of Helmers Organic farm with a small group of food lovers, gathered to discuss eating and growing local and to sample the new, Pemberton-focused “100 mile” tasting menu at Raincity Grill.

100 Mile Tasting Menu at Raincity Grill celebrates Pemberton

Helmers Organic is a family-run, 76-acre property, which Anna Helmer described as “small by Pemberton standards”. They use biodynamic methods and yearly crop rotations to grow the 16 varieties of potato for which the farm is renowned. In Raincity’s 100 mile lineup, Helmers potatoes graced our plates in 2 of 5 courses: as a bed of Chieftains and Russian Blues with Coho salmon and as a pavé of Chieftains served with braised beef.

100 Mile Tasting Menu at Raincity Grill celebrates Pemberton

100 Mile Tasting Menu at Raincity Grill celebrates Pemberton

Other Pemberton players were profiled on the new 100 mile menu. Pemberton Meadows Beef was wrapped tenderly in verdant savoy cabbage. The produce of North Arm Farm was featured in nearly every course, including a delicate dessert of carrot sorbet, yogurt snow, and fireweed honey meringue.

100 Mile Tasting Menu at Raincity Grill celebrates Pemberton

The efforts of Chef Peter Robertson to showcase these local producers were commendable: every plate was visually stunning, causing conversation to tangent into an inspection of the unique presentations as each course arrived. Shallots encased in a salt crust were of particular interest, triggering one diner to play with her food.

100 Mile Tasting Menu at Raincity Grill celebrates Pemberton

100 Mile Tasting Menu at Raincity Grill celebrates Pemberton

Sensory delights continued as each course hit. The grilled pork belly from Sloping Hills melted on the tongue in a caramel dissolve, and the accompanying Baynes Sound scallop was perfect in its doneness.

100 Mile Tasting Menu at Raincity Grill celebrates Pemberton

For me, the highlight of the menu was the North Arm Farm beetroot snow. Hills of crimson crystals were set out in front of us as waitstaff poured on a stream of zingy horseradish cream. The candy cane contrast set a festive tone for the rest of the evening, and the ephemeral taste of the dish paired well with the accompanying Bianco di Collina from Duncan vintner Venturi-Schulze.

100 Mile Tasting Menu at Raincity Grill celebrates Pemberton

Other guests seemed to have clear favourites. Anna Helmer was speechless in her enjoyment of the Sloping Hills pork. Chef’s Table Society head Sid Cross surreptitiously drained every drop of the broth that encircled the Coho salmon.

100 Mile Tasting Menu at Raincity Grill celebrates Pemberton

Throughout the tasting menu, general manager and sommelier Brent Hayman introduced the table to a breadth of 100 mile wine, most from Vancouver Island regions in or around Duncan.

100 Mile Tasting Menu at Raincity Grill celebrates Pemberton

Dinner drew to a close with a special tasting of walnut wine from Langley wine newcomer Vista D’oro. It was presented with another unexpected treat: an experimental tarte tatin from Chef Robertson that was nearly a 100 mile diet achievement. Although the table was nearing its saturation point in good food and drink, little was left of this delicious tarte after the slices were portioned out.

100 Mile Tasting Menu at Raincity Grill celebrates Pemberton

100 Mile Tasting Menu at Raincity Grill celebrates Pemberton

After this delightful dinner preview, Raincity Grill passed on their finalized tasting menu (listed below) that will run from now until the end of Dine Out Vancouver 2009. Don’t miss this chance to partake in the bounty of the year’s Pemberton harvest.

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100 MILE TASTING MENU

PEMBERTON FALL HARVEST

“NORTH ARM FARM” BEETROOT SNOW

horseradish cream

Wine accompaniment:

Garry Oaks, Pinot Gris

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GRILLED “SLOPING HILLS” PORK

bayne sound scallop, wild mushroom, celery root, chervil beurre blanc

Wine accompaniment:

Venturi-Schulze, Bianco di Collina

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SEARED “ORGANIC OCEANS” SALMON

braised “north arm farm” artichoke, grilled salt spring island mussel, garlic

“helmers” seig linde potato

Wine accompaniment:

Averill Creek, Pinot Noir

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BRAISED “PEMBERTON MEADOWS” BEEF

“helmers” potato pave, grilled shallot

“north arm farm” parsley root, marrow jus

Wine accompaniment:

Alderlea, Clarinete

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A selection of local cheese (add$8.50 per cheese)

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CARAMELISED SQUASH

“north arm farm” beetroot jelly, honey caramel, merridale cider sorbet

Wine accompaniment:

Merridale winter apple cider

$65.00

With wine accompaniment $89.00

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Karen Hamilton is a writer, photographer, and maker of websites. Her exploration of all things edible in the Lower Mainland is diarized at tinybites.ca.