‘Nightingale’ Head Chef Phil Scarfone Details What Keeps Him Up At Night


It’s a waiting game at David Hawksworth’s hotly anticipated, soon-to-open, two-storey, 166-seat Nightingale at 1017 West Hastings St. in Vancouver’s Financial District. This is especially true for the restaurant’s young and talented Head Chef, who is positively chomping at the bit to light the fires and get started. Say hello to the patient and ready Phil Scarfone – a late night bagel-loving, spider-hating fan of the F-word whose time has nearly come.


Where does the surname Scarfone come from? It’s Sicilian.

Coffee or tea? Coffee, black, room temperature – but not cold.

Name every restaurant you’ve ever worked at, in order of appearance: Tim Horton’s, Joey’s Only Seafood Restaurant, Crabby Joe’s, Elements, Keefer Mansion Inn, The Waldhaus, Read’s Hotel, db Bistro, Oru, Hawksworth Restaurant.

Describe the food concept at Nightingale in 10 words or less: Delicious, flavour first, well-executed food – light, balanced, simple, local.

The cliché that you overuse? “Livin’ the dream!”

What are you the most proud of? My ability to inspire those around me.

What keeps Phil Scarfone up at night? These days? Recipes! Meatballs, pasta, pizza dough, sausages, octopus, condiments…

Dogs or cats? Dogs.

Why do you always wear two different coloured socks? It’s a superstition/tradition that Steve Ramey and I have fostered since our time at db Bistro. I currently have a half-lexan of mismatched socks at home. It’s a sickness…

Shoe of choice? Vans slip-ons.

Your three role models? My Dad, Bob Scarfone; [Hawksworth chef] Kristian Eligh; Frances J. Underwood

Favourite Vancouver building? I really love the Waterfall Building near Granville Island. My tattoo artist had a private studio there and I used to sit by the Waterfall and crush sushi after prolonged sittings. Great spot!

What was the unluckiest moment in your life? Crushing my finger in the walk-in door at db Bistro, it was graphic, and took forever to heal.

The thing that is bad for you that you will never stop eating? Cheese. Until the day I die.

The Vancouver restaurant you wish was open 24 hours? Via Tevere.

Which local restaurant kitchen do you envy the most? L’Abattoir — Greg McCallum is a powerhouse and I envy those who get to work with him.

What’s the one thing about Vancouver’s restaurant scene that you want to see changed the most? I’d love to see a better late night food scene.

The different career path that you could have gone on? Journalism or Photography.

Three films you would gladly watch again? Pulp Fiction, Gangs of New York, Step Brothers.

The Nightingale dish that you can’t wait for Vancouverites to taste? Our pizza. We’ve been working on the dough recipe for a year and a half now; it’s dialled, and it’s awesome.

Three favourite dishes in YVR? Full focaccia (Capicollo + Mortadella) at La Grotta on The Drive; Kazu Coppa at Oyama; Tamago Ramen + Extra Egg at Marutama Ramen.

Under what circumstances would you join the army? If Donald Trump was elected POTUS.

Your most regrettable purchase ever? Beats by Dr. Dre Earbuds. They lasted about a week.

What was the luckiest moment in your life? Meeting my beautiful girlfriend, Hilary (a.k.a. Peanut).

It’s five years ago and you just clocked out. Where to? Benny’s Bagels on Broadway and Larch – db Bistro’s old watering hole.

What are you the least proud of? The amount of time I spend aimlessly flipping through Instagram.

The biggest mistake you’ve ever made? Not training sufficiently for my second Gran Fondo and suffering for 5.5 hours. It was the worst (but fun once the hallucinations kicked in).

The best thing about cooking? The Journey – the endless pursuit of knowledge.

The worst thing about cooking? Raw red onions.

The strange talent that you possess? Bendy backwards flamingo legs.

The strange talent that you wish you possessed? To be able to eat pasta and not absorb the calories.

What is the one animal that scares you the most? Spiders. Seriously, fuck spiders in the face.

If you had a motto, what would it be? “Push Yourself”.

Scariest situation you’ve ever been in? Almost dying while white water rafting in Maine. Popped out of the raft and had to navigate Class 5 rapids without it. I swallowed a shitload of water and had a strangely peaceful moment of realizing that was how I was going to die.


Restaurant trend that needs to die? The use of the term ‘Chef Inspired’ by fast food chains. (I can’t begin to tell you how much I despise this.)

Your favourite curse word? The old standby F-word is my fave. It’s like the bacon of profanity; you can add it to things and most times it makes them 10 times better, but it’s still awesome all by itself.

Four least favourite words? Maybe; Should; Almost; Crisps.

The Rolling Stones or The Beatles? Stones.

What object of no monetary value will you keep dearly until you die? My lucky t-shirt; it’s full of holes, but it has lots of memories!

The most beautiful place in the world? The Oregon Coast; I fell in love with the place on a road trip this past autumn.

Your first memory? The movie Fantasia. For reals.

The first album that made you love music? Beastie Boys – Hello Nasty [have a listen] .

The song that you could listen to on repeat for an hour? Happiness by the Kilowatt – Alexisonfire [have a listen].

The one place that you have the least interest in ever visiting? An intensive farming operation.

The best way to go, in the very end? Lying down peacefully, covered in blankets, in the front of a canoe at dusk, being paddled by the one that I love…the sound of the paddle and loons in the background.

How would you like to be remembered? As a mentor with a big heart who led by example.

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