Chef Paul Mon-Kau

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 Paul Mon-Kau

At 17,  Paul was working at the Red Robin Restaurant, started at VCC in the culinary program for 1 year at the same time he was working at the Waterfront Centre Hotel as a cook. He then spent the next 10 years working in hospitality in various roles including front of house, during that time 1-1/2 years was spent working for Cactus Club. In 2007, he opened The District in North Vancouver, followed by El Matador in 2012.

What made you want to open a restaurant?

I was running a nightclub downtown, had lots of ideas but I never got the credit for my ideas. I am from Europe and have travelled all over extensively. I wanted a place to have that was what I liked then. There was nothing like this in the suburbs. I am now the biggest restaurateur you have never heard of in North Van.

Was opening the restaurant everything you thought it would be after a year?

I was nothing I thought it was going to be. You quickly become a master of all trades. Fixing everything from the plumbing, cleaning, repairing etc you end up well versed to everything your business is related too.

What is your Favourite Food?

Fois Gras

What are your favourite Restaurants outside of your own?

  • Suika
  • Kingyo
  • Deacons Corner
  • Les Faux Bourgeois
  • Yew in the Four Seasons Hotel for brunch

The First Dish:

Bacon & Blue Mussels

Bacon & Blue Mussels

White onions

Bacon

Blue cheese

Cream

White wine

What was your inspiration behind this dish?

Just the love of bacon and blue cheese. The challenge of making this into a seafood dish. Focus of being an Oceanwise member –enhancing the flavour of the mussels.

What do you want your staff to learn from you?

This isn’t rocket science, we are just serving food and drink, they have my support.

What is the most challenging part of running a restaurant?

There is always a leak, always something, never nothing. Elements of running a business where cash flow in the biggest challenge.

What is your role like these-days at your restaurants?

More restaurateur and less chef these days. I do a lot of graphics, marketing and such.

What do you like to do in your Off Time?

  • Chill out with friends
  • Photoshop and graphics

Who are your Mentors?

  • My dad
  • Ivo Staiano

How many sauces do you have on your menu in one form or another?

42

The Second Dish:

Gehaktballen

Gehaktballen

chuck

pork belly

anchovy paste

dates

eggs

ketchup

worchestshire

thyme

onions

sundried tomatoes

panko

mustard

rosemary

parsley

 

The Mojo Picon sauce has

garlic

paprika

olive oil

salt

pepper

ketchup

tabasco

sambal oelek

cumin

white wine vinegar

onion

worchestshire

cocoa

What was your inspiration behind this dish?

Classic Dutch dish – I wanted to bring on another appetizer that wasn’t vegetarian. The best meatball we could make.

What is it about flavours for you?

Many restaurants food is bland and needs seasoning. Lots of my flavours are complex to keep them unique and ours. The other is a show of skill to make the dish taste amazing.

What are the 5 flavour profiles?

  • Salt
  • Sweet
  • Sour
  • Bitter
  • Umami

The Third Dish:

Pan Seared Sirloin

Pan Seared Sirloin

Prime high grade beef

Butter

Fries

Asparagus

Tomato

Our steak herb butter has:

dill

parsley

pepper

salt

tarragon

garlic

and the sauce options are:

peppercorn brandy sauce

Smokehead Scotch Demiglace

Field mushroom sauce

What was your inspiration behind this dish?

Oma (my grandma) pan seared steak in butter with great flavour.

What has inspired you lately?

  • A trip to Seattle a month ago, “Cannon” in Seattle was like going to Mecca as an alcoholic, they have 2,660 bottles – largest selection for a bar in North America.

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

By: Richard Wolak