Chef Nik Lim

Vancouver is home to some of the best chefs in the world, many have worked for the top chefs and restaurants around the world as well as around the city. Dishing with the Chefs is a series of Interviews with some of the top chefs in and around Vancouver.

Chef Nik Lim

I spent the afternoon last week with Chef Nik Lim at Gusto di Quattro Restaurant in North Vancouver. I met Nik recently and have had the pleasure to chat with him about his passion and love for food.

Born in Singapore where he lived for 7 years before settling in Canada. He grew up in a food oriented culture where family gatherings were over big feasts. Ever since he was 14 years old he wanted to be a chef.

Where did you begin as a Chef in Vancouver?

In 2001 I got a job at Caffe de Medici where I was the Executive Sous Chef for 5 years, tableside romance is very inspirational for me and I love old world charm. I also worked briefly at Red Door as their Senior Sous Chef before becoming the Executive Sous Chef at Hart House, I then joined Quattro in North Vancouver as their Sous Chef and then I was promoted to Executive Chef 3 years ago.

What is your philosophy on Garlic?

Has to be used correctly, has a strong flavour, cook garlic slowly, roasting and poaching slowly is the best making it naturally sweet and balanced.

What makes a good Marinara?

Marina is the American adaptation of Italian tomato sauce but the true meaning of it is a Pomadaro with the addition of anchovies. A good tomato sauce has to be not sweet, I prefer using canned plum tomatoes from Italy.

What is your preference Fresh Pasta or Dry Pasta?

Dry pasta is the way to go for an entrée and fresh is best for ravioli and tortellini. I always like dry for spaghetti, linguini and fettuccini.

In your position, are you able to create your own dishes?

If you glance at our menu you will see that we have it divided into Classics and Seasonal, most of the classics are Roman and ones that are constant for remaining on our menu, then there are the Seasonal and most of these I have added a west-coast influence to the original modern Italian.

How do you make the perfect Gnocchi?

Dry bake the potatoes, flour, olive oil, cheese, salt and pepper. It is an art and about the feel of the dough. Takes a lot of practice and skill to make the Gnocchi which we make in house.

The First Dish:

Seared Qualicum Bay Scallops & Autumn Risotto

Seared Qualicum Bay Scallops & Autumn Risotto

Risotto – Bio Dynamic organic rice, chicken stock base, woasted winter vegetables, yam, carrots, parsnip, brussel sprouts.

Finished with Marscarpone cheese and butter

Scallop in a grapeseed oil, hazelnuts, maple, tarrogan, dried parsnips

What was your inspiration behind this dish?

The vegetables – started with adding some of these and those and adding some nuts and then voila here was the dish.

The Second Dish:

Pizza Roma

Pizza Roma — Pizza crust, slow cooked eggplant and pecorino cheese, Saputo Mozarella cheese in the middle of the pizza, topped with the Spaghetti Quattro garnish of ground chicken, chilli, garlic, black turtle beans, parsley.

What was your inspiration behind this dish?

Everyone loves our Spaghetti Quattro dish, so I incorporated this dish on top of the pizza and added the eggplant. This was a classic dish that was reinvented.

What are your Favourite restaurants outside of where you work?

Phnom Penh – Cambodian

Pastis – Continental and for their Fois Gras

Golden Phoenix – best Chinese

What is your Favourite comfort food?

Fried Chicken

The Third Dish:

Beef Shortrib braised in Chinotto

Beef Shortrib braised in Chinotto

Served on a parsnip vanilla puree, shallot confit, beach mushrooms, brussel sprouts.

What was your inspiration behind this dish?

This was actually Chef Brett’s dish, the Shortrib because of the time of the year, fall vegetables, pickled mushrooms, adding the Chinotto changed everything, braised the beef shortrib for a minimum of 6 hours in the Chinotto.

What is your favourite food city?

Singapore

What do you like to do in your Off time?

Play with my puppy, spend time with my friends hanging out and eating great food.

If not Italian, then what cuisine do you like to cook?

Global cuisine

Stay tuned for the next chef in the Dishing with the Chef series.

By: Richard Wolak