In this edition of the Big Interview, we check in with talented Brian Luptak, the exacting executive chef of the award-winning, veggie-focused, always busy Acorn restaurant on Main Street.
What neighbourhood do you live in and what makes it home? Kerrisdale, It’s so quiet and everything seems to be conveniently just around the corner. Also, my barber Dino up at Economy Barber is one great guy!
The song that you could listen to on repeat for an hour? Rock and Roll Suicide by David Bowie or Acoustic Melody by Bob Marley.
Coffee or tea? Bailey’s with coffee.
Name every restaurant you’ve ever worked at in chronological order: The Meaford castle, Lamplighter Inn, On the Front, The Fairview at Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, The Pan Pacific Vancouver and The Acorn.
Describe the food concept at Acorn in 10 words or less: Vegetable-focused flavour town.
The cliché that you overuse? Not so much clichés but more of an abundance of horrible dad jokes. For example: What kind of bee gives milk? A boobie. I owe that one to my niece, Emma.
The most unlikely ingredient combination that works? Pine mushrooms and apples.
Favorite Vancouver viewpoint? A certain secret location on the Fraser River.
The thing that is bad for you that you will never stop eating? Butter and Salt
The Vancouver restaurant you wish was open 24 hours? Sal Y Limon.
The best treat to satisfy a sweet tooth? People seem to be getting me hooked on 5 Cent candy these days. I can’t resist.
Which local restaurant kitchen do you envy the most? L’Abattoir. What a smart set up.
First album that you ever bought? D.O.A., The Black Spot.
What about your work excites you most? The incredible produce and ingredients brought in from our friends/farmers/wild crafters and serenading my amazing coworkers that I spend most of my waking hours with.
What was the last live concert you saw? Not so much a concert but a show. It was This Is That Live Tour by CBC’s Pat Kelly and Peter Oldring. Hilarious!
Your all-time best Halloween costume? Orville Redenbacher.
What game did you love as a kid? Dodgeball.
Tell us about your first knife. It was a 11″ Shun, which was a gift. It felt like a sword at the time and to this day it’s still a work horse.
What’s the one thing about Vancouver’s restaurant scene that you want to see changed the most? Closer relationships between the chefs and the farmers.
The different career path that you could have gone on? I would have been locked in a chair working a graphic design gig.
Three films you would gladly watch again? Kill Bill 1,2 &3, Rad, and The Life Aquatic.
Three favourite dishes in YVR? The Kitfo at Fassil’s, The Dirty Burger at Campagnolo Upstairs and the Porchetta Agnolotti at Kissa Tanto.
Your most regrettable purchase ever? A wedding ring.
What was the luckiest moment in your life? Winning a XXL Much Music T-shirt out of a hostess chip bag when I was 5, everything since then has been a lot of hard work.
It’s five years ago. You just clocked out. Where to? The Waldhaus for a Weissbier.
What are you the most proud of? My family.
What are you the least proud of? My bad joints and the inability to reach my toes.
The best thing about cooking? The fact that what we do is a constant art project.
The worst thing about cooking? The diners that think it’s “create your own menu night.”
Local ingredient that you most look forward to coming in to season? Pine mushrooms and also – not so much local – but Ramps.
The strange talent that you possess? Impersonating Cleveland Brown from Family Guy.
The strange talent that you wish you possessed? Having hands that could shape shift like the T1000 from Terminator 2.
What is the one creature that scares you the most? Sharks, the ocean freaks me out!
If you had a motto, what would it be? Cook with passion, plate with a purpose.
Scariest situation you’ve ever been in? My dad and I were driving up the highway and there was a transport driving towards us. This idiot decides to blow through a stop sign and in a split second missed both our vehicles and almost t-boned us. I still think about that from time to time and it always gives me chills.
If you could give advice to your 20 year old self what would it be? Travel, whether it be across Canada or internationally, seeing and eating lots.
Restaurant trend that needs to die? If it’s a tasting-sized plate, don’t call it a shared plate.
Your favourite curse word? F@$K
Least favourite word? Moist.
What object of no monetary value will you keep dearly until you die? My Papa’s fishing bag.
The most beautiful place in the world? Lake Panache.
Your first memory? Sneaking chocolate macaroons out of my grandma’s deep freezer during Christmas.
Drink of choice? The Caesar.
Three tools every kitchen should be stocked with? Towels, tape, salt.
Most played song on your iTunes? Blue Skies by Tom Waits
Best late night snack? Grilled Cheese with pickles.
What are you most looking forward to as the chef of The Acorn? Keeping the momentum going and creating a collaborative creative team to bring fresh thought out dishes to the tables every night.
Where do you see yourself in ten years time? That’s a real tough one, but I do want to pursue teaching culinary one day.
What’s on the top of your bucket list? Walking my Papa’s footsteps in Slovakia.
How would you like to be remembered? As someone who gave a shit.