We recently caught up with Shelome Bouvette, Head Chef at Chicha, while in the preliminary stages of creating the menu for May 29th’s collaborative Strange Fellows Brewing Beer Dinner. The self-confessed wine lover took some time to give us her thoughts on food-and-beverage pairings and the allure of beer in particular…
What is appealing about pairing food with beer? Beer today is so complex and diverse, and brewmasters are making beers with so much creativity, precision, experience and knowledge. It is very much the same as pairing food with master winemakers, except beer culture is a lot more relaxed and casual. It’s all about finding the perfect balance in the pairings.
What does beer pairing add to the dining experience? It adds the same qualities as wine pairings: flavours balancing and complimenting each other. Beer is not as expensive as wine in general, so I feel the atmosphere of beer pairings is lighter and more fun, which adds to the experience as well.
What is the most fun part? The most challenging? I have always been primarily a wine drinker so the most fun and the most challenging thing is learning about beer and the different flavour profiles of different kinds of beers. For example, the difference between an IPA and a pale ale. I’m finding it extremely fun and challenging at this point in my career working with a new trend, a new medium to pair food with. It’s exciting to do something new.
Why Strange Fellows’ beer? Strange Fellows Brewery are good friends of ours. We did a beer dinner with them last year and it was so much fun and so delicious, we had to do it again! And they really are the most lovely group of friends we could be a part of.
What was the inspiration behind the collaboration? We really wanted the theme to be “summer time”. We’ll be showcasing Strange Fellows’ summer line-up of beers and pairing them with summery foods like fresh, locally sourced seafood ceviches, rich and smoky barbecue, fun street food-inspired tamales…keeping the menu fun and summery.
CHICHA X STRANGE FELLOWS MENU
Reception (between 6.30pm-7.15pm)
Aji amarillo and sweety pepper guacamole with cassava root crisps/ fried plantains with trio of Peruvian sauces
Beer pairing: Baynard Saison cocktail (created by guest bartender Rob Scope)
Guests are seated and dinner starts at 7.15pm
Course 2: Hanami Ceviche
~Grilled locally caught and sustainable humbolt squid, scallops, crispy organic porkbelly, avocado, pickled farmer’s market cucumbers, fresh shiso, with a sea buckthorn berry and orange blossom tigre de leche marinade_
Beer pairing: Guardian White IPA
Course 3: Organic duck confit tamales
~Duck confit, sweet potato humita, pine nuts, currents, peruvian chilies with a chicha morada demi and salsa criolla~
Beer pairing: Popinjay dry hopped sour
Course 4: Bourbon and Aji Panca Chili barbeque Organic Elk Brisket
~bourbon, apricot, and aji panca chili braised barbeque organic elk brisket with a huacatay Peruvian black mint chimichurri, double smoked bacon, carmelized ramp and yucca root mash, and buttermilk rocoto chili dusted allium cepa rings~
Beer pairing: Boris Russian Imperial Stout
Course 5: Chirimoya Panna Cotta
~Peruvian custard apple, elderberry honey, candied kumquats, and puffed candied amarynth~
Beer Pairing: Roxanne black raspberry sour
Are you considering the beer pairings as you create the menu? How much input do you have in what beers are included? We choose the beers and the create the menu at the same time. Yesterday my team and I sat with Iain Hill (brewmaster/ co-owner of Strange Fellows Brewery) and his team and went through the line-up of beers available for our collaboration. We spent the afternoon tasting beer, discussing flavour profiles and food flavours that compliment and balance the different types of beer. The fellows at Strange Fellows are the nicest and most easy-going people to work with. They let me have total control on what beer I wanted to use but I think these dinners are so much better when they are a real collaboration and we decide on the menu and the beers together. Two heads are better than one!
What is a future local beer collaboration that you would like to do? Last month we did a beer dinner with Parkside Brewery which was really great with delicious food, beer and excellent pairings. The evening was so much fun! Vern Lambourne (co-owner/brewmaster) spoke about each beer; I spoke about the food for every course; and Sam Payne (co-owner of Parkside Brewery) guest-bartended the event. I would very much like to do more beer collaborations with other local breweries at Chicha. Small, local businesses supporting each other, working together, and collaborating together is good community and something I feel strongly about. And it’s pretty cool and really fun, which is what I’m all about!
How about an international one? Right now I am focused on working with local breweries…there are so many of them now! The craft beer market has really taken off in the last couple of years in Vancouver and it’s inspiring and amazing to be somewhat connected to this local movement. When I was in Peru they did have many amazing beers and beer is quite popular there. If I was to do an international brewery collaboration I would definitely want to do one with a Peruvian brewery.
If you could create any beer, what would it taste like? Being a wine drinker I would want it to taste like wine! And I have had some amazing beers that have been aged in red wine barrels, which adds another level of complexity to the beer, which I love. My current favourite beer is Reynard Oud Bruin, which is aged in red wine oak barrels for a year.
What is the strangest beer that you’ve ever tasted? I can’t remember who brewed it but I remember a few years ago some samples were dropped off and I tried a charcoal habanero stout.
What is the most memorable food and beer pairing that you’ve experienced? Not to toot Iain’s and my horns but I think it is going to be the upcoming pairing of his Boris stout (a smoky stout) with my bourbon and Peruvian chilies BBQ sauced slow braised organic elk ribs. My dish isn’t fully decided yet but this is where I see it going and I am so excited about this pairing.
Where do you see food and beverage pairing dinners going in the future? I hope to see more local industries working together and pairings are such a great way to do it. I think it’s safe to say almost everyone enjoys food and it’s cool that for wine lovers there are wine dinners, for beer lovers there are beer dinners, and in the future maybe there will be more cocktail-paired dinners, or kombucha/tea-paired dinners. There are so many possibilities! We once did a tequila/mezcal-paired dinner with our friend Eric Lorenz of Agave Spirits….whoa, was that ever a fun night!
Do you plan on doing any similar events in the future? Yes. I am a people person and I love working with new people on fun projects. I love these beer dinners at Chicha. I get to work with different brewmasters and we can “chef” talk about palates and flavour profiles, and get excited about pairings together. And it’s a great night because it brings new customers to the restaurant for a fun, well-paired, delicious first-time experience.
What other dining format would you like to explore at Chicha? What we have explored that I would like to do again is a more casual and party-like dining format. We are planning a summer all-you-can-eat BBQ party where guests mingle and DJs play summer time music. We’ll have an outside area for grilling. Guests can lounge and eat BBQ in the sunshine, drink local beers and pisco cocktails, hang out with old friends and make new ones.
DETAILS | Tuesday, May 29 | 6:30-9:30pm | Chicha | $85 plus fee