Fable Chef Trevor Bird On His New Diner, Cook Shortages, And More

The Big Interview asks dozens of questions – some serious, some irreverent – the answers to which (we hope) reveal enough of a character to uncommonly contextualise their endeavours. Previously, we talked to Mark Perrier, owner/chef at Savio Volpe in the Fraserhood. Today, the exchange is with Trevor Bird, owner/chef at Fable in Kitsilano and a new diner coming soon to Mt. Pleasant.

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The cliché that you overuse? “Farm to Table”. I like to think it’s not a trend anymore but that name is highly overused in very inappropriate restaurants and situations. I try not to cram it down diner’s throats by having a novel for a menu listing all the farms we work with.

You’ve got another restaurant in the works — a diner in Mt. Pleasant. That means staffing another kitchen. Why do you think it’s so hard to find cooks in Vancouver these days? It’s difficult to find staff but it’s not impossible. I think the glory days of holding a 30% labour cost are slowly going out the window. I think it’s the long hours and low pay, plus it’s not glorious. The number of monster kitchens opening in Vancouver is a problem; with 400+ seats they take a lot of chefs to staff; some of them have over 100 cooks. The schools don’t produce too many chefs. This is a subject that’s worthy of a whole essay!

The different career path that you could have gone on? Something with health; running and biking and being active are very important. I love it.

Three films you would gladly watch again? Interstellar (I dork out on physics), Whiplash (so many parallels with passionate industries), and Old School.

Three favourite dishes in YVR outside your own restaurant? Peaceful, Dan Dan noodles; Suika, cold ramen salad; Torafuku, pressed pork belly sushi. All Asian…I just learned something about myself.

If you could add any cuisine type to your repertoire, which would it be? Something Asian, apparently.

Under what circumstances would you join the army? If Canada was being invaded.

Your most regrettable purchase ever? A $500 straight razor. I used it once. The guy was such a good salesmen I couldn’t say no.

What was the luckiest moment in your life? Having Fable, and how successful it is.

What was the unluckiest moment in your life? 12 years old in Punta Cana Club Med; I had a stomach bug. I went to camp wearing white tennis shorts and I had a fear of using public bathrooms. I ran back to my room and the door was locked, I didn’t have my key. I couldn’t do anything about it. It just happened. Than I had to walk through the resort to find my mom.

What are you the most proud of? Wedding my beautiful wife.

What are you the least proud of? Not having a filter. I was immature and have grown up quite a bit in the past couple of years.

The biggest mistake you’ve ever made? There are lots of things that could have played differently. I don’t think of any of them as mistakes but as learning lessons. Everything happens for a reason.

What’s the smartest decision you’ve ever made? To go on Top Chef Canada. It was a game changer.

The best thing about your work? Cooking, although I find it very challenging to find time to get behind the stove these days.

The worst thing about your work? Nothing. I find it all highly entertaining and evolving.

The talent that you wish you possessed? I wish I could play a musical instrument.

What is the one animal that scares you the most? Cougar. They are bigger than I could have ever imagined and I couldn’t beat one up.

If you had a motto, what would it be? “Everything happens for a reason”.

Your favourite curse word? The hard C.

The Rolling Stones or The Beatles? The Rolling Stones.

Is there any particular “diner” style dish that you can’t wait to unleash on the neighbourhood? The breakfast sandwich is getting me excited. And the pancakes.

Thing of no monetary value will you keep dearly until you die? My wife.

The most beautiful place in the world? Maui, near Hana; a hike to a black sand beach and the most violent ocean I have ever seen.

Your first memory? Not a pleasant one.

The first album that made you love music? Depending on my age, either Fred Penner or Offspring, Smash.

The song that you could listen to on repeat for an hour? Right now: TNGHT, Higher Ground.

The one place that you have the least interest in ever visiting? Probably Russia. I would most likely turn down the opportunity to go there.

The best way to go, in the very end? Peacefully and on my own accord, on some drug that slowly stops my heart.

The Lee Building; location of Trevor's new diner (also shown: Trevor with partner Ron MacGillivray).
The Lee Building; location of Trevor’s new diner (also shown: Trevor with partner Ron MacGillivray).

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