Chef Brian Fowke

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 Brian Fowke

Brian apprenticed at the Windsor Arms Hotel from 1986-1989. In 1988, Brian was in university in Toronto, working as a bartender, a guy showed up from The Dorchester and needed a dishwasher for one night, he ended up helping out one day a week. He watched the food and hospitality side of things and was interested in hospitality. He was then Chef de Partie/Sous Chef at the King Edward Hotel in Toronto in 1989 for a year. In 1990 he was the Sous Chef at Le Pigalle Restaurant for a year. In January 1991 he was the Executive Chef at Jonathon’s of Oakville for over 3 years. Brian was the Executive Hotel Chef at The Sherwood Inn in 1997 for 2 years.

In January, 1999 he got recruited to Joe Fortes in Vancouver. He interviewed with Bud Kanke for an hour, and then took the job and moved to Vancouver. From 1999-2004 he was the Executive Chef at Joe Fortes. In 2005 he opened Rare on Hornby with a few investors and was there for 2-1/2 years. Then opened Metro, but the economy hurt them and it closed. He took some time off and worked in Whistler during the Olympics. Then an opportunity came up to get him into a space to open Kitsilano Daily Kitchen where he has been the owner and Executive Chef ever since.

What is it that drives you every night in your kitchen?

I am on sabbatical having fun, doing what I have always wanted to do creating culture in Vancouver, bringing people together over a 3 hour dinner talking about food and the experience.

How has Social Media impacted your restaurant?

Curating the experience from twitter to facebook, linkedin and foursquare. Personal engagement, promoting our fresh fish, daily emails to our customers subscribers. 50% of the reservations come from Social Media and the other 50% from Open Table.

What is your favourite cuisine to eat personally?

I love all authentic ethnic cuisine. Caribbean spice trade

What makes your dishes unique?

I love finishing dishes with citrus – lemons and oranges.

Who does the cooking at home on your off night?

I do and my kids cook with me, making Gnocchi etc.

Have you been making your own bread each night since you opened?

Yes and it’s a key component to what we do here. It starts the customers experience.

From Organic potato bread with honey from Nichola Valley to Focaccia, rolls, and baguettes.

Where do you get your Flour for your breads?

I get all my flours from The Peddler and I get different flours to experiment with different breads.

How do you find your Farmer’s that you want to work with?

I do a drive once a year through the Okanagan and meet all my suppliers and meet new ones. I go to Farmers Markets all the time and I cultivate a relationship with each of the farmers. I go to Nanaimo & Hastings to see some of my regular suppliers that are ethnic based.

What are your favourite restaurants in Vancouver outside of your own?

  • Novo Pizzeria
  • West Restaurant
  • Vij’s Restaurant

What do you like to do in your off-time?

  • Nature
  • Whistler
  • Visit North Arm Farms
  • Hiking
  • Outdoor activities
  • Photography

Can you ever take a night off during your run?

No – I have to close cause it’s the value of coming here.

The First Dish:

Sablefish

Sablefish

Organic winter vegetables – spinach, leeks, spring peas, chard

Red pepper puree

What was your inspiration behind this dish?

What’s available in the winter time – cod and always doing organic winter vegetables.

The Second Dish:

Roasted Winter Cauliflower Puree

Roasted Winter Cauliflower Puree

Roasted cauliflower

A stock

Spot prawns

Trout roe

Caviar butter

French white truffle butter

Tarragon – garnish

Olive oil – garnish

What was your inspiration behind this dish?

Spot prawns were frozen fresh for me by Finest at Sea, using a caviar for seasoning. Needs to appeal to all senses.

Where is your favourite olive oil coming from currently?

California organic

What is your Favourite Red Wine?

Single varietals right now – Petit Verdot

What is your Favourite White Wine?

French Chenin Blanc from Louir Valley

What is your favourite dish to pair with Petit Verdot red wine?

Lamb Sausage with Qualicum feta cheese and Pappardelle

What is your favourite dish to pair with the Chenin Blanc?

Seafood shellfish stew with a bit of spice

What style of desserts do you like?

I like desserts that aren’t to sweet, I want to have a little bit of savoury to finish the meal.

What do you have before you eat dessert?

I have a piece of cheese before dessert, currently I am liking the Moonstruck Tomme D’or (Salt Spring Island)

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

By: Richard Wolak