Chef Ana Dander

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 Ana Dander

Ana Dander was born in Mexico, she came to Vancouver to study English when she was 18. She then went to Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts. After graduation she went home to Mexico and worked for 6 months cooking in a Japanese restaurant (1 hour outside of Mexico City). Ana returned to Vancouver and worked at Capones in Yaletown cooking through all the stations working her way up to Sous Chef after 2 years, she then joined Brix and worked there for 1.5 years, then became the pasta chef at Café de Medici and worked for 6 months until the restaurant closed. She then worked as the restaurant Manager for Salsa & Agave for almost 3 years, after leaving there she opened her own restaurant The Mexican.

Did you always want to be a Chef ?

I think so, a few years ago we sold our house in Mexico. I found my elementary school yearbook where I wrote I wanted to be a chef when I grew up.

What Challenges have you faced running a Mexican restaurant in Vancouver?

For Mexicans it is word of mouth, they like homemade authentic food from Mexico. Getting Canadians in to the restaurant at the beginning was hard, this all changed once Alexandra Gill wrote an article about us in the Globe and Mail Newspaper, suddenly the locals embraced us.

What is the reaction to customers not seeing Burritos on your menu?

Once they understand our cuisine and our staff explain our dishes, they then understand why we don’t have Burritos on our menu.

Have you had any difficulty finding certain ingredients here?

Cactus leaves are a challenge to get sometimes. We can pretty much get anything now.

What is your favourite food?

Japanese

What are your favourite restaurants outside of the one you own?

  • Guu Garlic on Thurlow
  • The Flying Pig
  • Espana
  • Fable Kitchen for desserts

The First Dish:

Papas Con Chorizo Quesadillas

Papas Con Chorizo Quesadillas

Homemade Mexican chorizo

Potatoes

Asadero cheese

Feta cheese on top

What was your inspiration behind this dish?

The market food back home in Mexico, this is from the region of Mexico City.

The Second Dish:

Sopes – Calabacitas con Crema

Sopes – Calabacitas con Crema

Calabacitas (similar to Zucchini)

Tomatoes

Onions

Beans

Crème

What was your inspiration behind this dish?

My Sunday breakfast with my parentes. There is a trick to picking the tortillas.

What do you do in your off time?

  • Rollerblading
  • Read
  • Movies

 How do you get inspired to create the dishes on your menu?

Every time I go to Mexico I get inspired to create new dishes. I want to give my customers a Mexican experience. Always come back with books. My mom and grandmother are great cooks.

Do you think the palates of Vancouverites are more adventurous than they used to be when you came to Vancouver?

Yes people will try dishes here but also at Guu and the others people are always trying new dishes that they hadn’t seen previously.

Why don’t you have a mole on your menu?

Its hard to get the ingredients here, you need lots of time to make this authentic dish.

The Third Dish:

Chile Relleno

Chile Relleno

Poblano pepper

Ground beef

Potatoes

Tomatoes

Onions

Roasted poblanos, corn and crème (for the sauce)

–served with rice and beans

What was your inspiration behind this dish?

A dish that I ate growing up in Mexico, the stuffing was different than what I make here now.

Who is your Mentor?

My mom

Any dishes you are thinking of putting on the menu?

Octopus Tostada

Braised Lamb Tacos

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

By: Richard Wolak