Chef Alana Peckham

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 Alana Peckham

A couple of weeks ago, I spent the afternoon with Chef Alana Peckham at CRU Restaurant in Vancouver. It was a pleasure to finally meet Alana and to chat with her about her passion for food, pastry and wine.

In 2001/02 she went to Dubrelle Culinary School and did culinary and pastry school then worked at Feenies for 6 months. She then worked at Lumiere for 1 year and then to CRU where she have been for the past 6-1/2 years as Executive Chef.

What style is your cooking?

Local ingredients, west coast, flavours that will impress you.

Are you doing everything at CRU?

Yes I do it all from savouries to pastries.

How do you do your Winemaker Dinners?

We do a 4-5 course menu with our winemakers dinners here, the wine makers give a presentation before and during dinner describing their wines and usually do a wine tasting before the dinner begins.

Which farms do you support locally for your produce?

Sapo Bravo Farms (Gabrielle) in Lytton who brings me fresh produce from June – October, and UBC farms every Saturday during the summer months.

Would you develop your recipes around what vegis and fruits you get from your farm suppliers?

Yes I place weekly specials and dishes based on the fruits and vegiès I can get. I go shopping daily at Granville Island market and I love it.

The First Dish:

Mushroom Truffle Risotto

Mushroom Truffle Risotto

With shaved parmesan and peashoots, topped with chopped black truffles and truffle aioli, Shimeji, Crimini, Oyster mushrooms

What was your inspiration behind this dish?

For a vegetarian option that would fill someone up and to be in the same calibre as the other dishes.

Describe your wine list at CRU Restaurant

The wine list is colour coded to match the colour coding on the food menu so guests know which wines will pair well with the dish they are ordering.

Where is your favourite food city?

San Francisco

Which food cities do you want to visit next?

Portland and New York

Last Asian Trip?

Asian food is better in Vancouver than China.

What are your favourite restaurants in Vancouver (outside of where you work)?

  • West
  • Maenam
  • La Quercia

The Second Dish:

Miso Marinated Sablefish

Miso Marinated Sablefish

With sautéed kale and creamed cauliflower

What was your inspiration behind this dish?

I wanted to use UBC kale and cauliflower, so married them both with sablefish and miso.

What is the best wine pairing for the first & second dishes you prepared for me?

Pinot noir best paired with Dish #1

Chardonnay best paired with Dish #2

What did you want to be when you grew up?

A Pharmacist, however over the years my family suggested that I go in to cooking.

What is your favourite dessert to make?

Pecan pie

Did you ever see yourself working a large restaurant?

No I prefer a smaller restaurant where I can handle everything, I am more hands on.

What is your favourite fish?

Sablefish

Do you cook at home?

Yes but I make big batches and then freeze them so that I have fresh food that I can eat when I am home after a long day at work.

What are the favourite ingredients we would find in your home pantry?

  • Salt
  • Sherry vinegar
  • Olive oil
  • Soy sauce

The Third Dish:

Dark Chocolate Brownie

Dark Chocolate Brownie

Toasted meringue with morello cherry sorbet

What was your inspiration behind this dish?

Flavour profiles of hot chocolate and marshmallows.

Do you have any regrets not becoming a Pharmacist?

No I love cooking, it is my passion.

What’s the next 3 – 5 years hold for you?

Not sure, I like balance and why leave a good thing!

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

By: Richard Wolak