Interviews with EAT! Vancouver Fest Chefs

For the 13th annual EAT! Vancouver Food + Cooking Festival which is taking place at venues throughout the city April 26 to May 3, 2015, an inaugural collaborative dinner series is about to take place here for the first time.

I had the opportunity to interview a couple of the chefs in the line-up of the upcoming EAT! Vancouver Food + Cooking Festival. I asked each chef the same 4 questions and of course each had very different answers.

Connie DeSousa

Connie DeSousa

Connie DeSousa of CHARCUT Roast House in Calgary.

1) When you are creating a dish for a spectacular event like your Chef Collaboration dinner with Burdock and Co, how do you go about creating that dish?

We really love to see if there’s an opportunity to feature a version of our signatures dishes from CHARCUT Roast House.  It gives people who haven’t dined with us an opportunity to try dishes that have become a fan favourite like our Pig Head Mortadella or Charred Octopus and Artisan Linguica Sausage – but with a bit of a twist to match our host restaurant’s vibe and available ingredients.

2) How do you continue to push the boundary to achieve excellence in your profession as a chef?

Without a doubt – collaboration with other chefs.  There’s something so exciting about two creative minds coming together to learn from each other. We have learned new techiques and discovered new ingredients when cooking with our industry peers. Calgary’s collaborative spirit has really helped in the promotion of becoming a culinary destination. We often network with chefs abroad to spread the word about our growing and evolving food scene in YYC and  invite them to visit and join us in the kitchen!

3) If there was one thing you could achieve as a chef that you have not already done, what would it be?

I feel like I haven’t even scratched the surface of experiencing food all over the world but Spain, Southern Italy and Argentina are on my radar right now.

4) What is your favourite food city around the world and why?

I love San Francisco.  It’s a culinary wonderland for chefs and foodies. It’s really dear to my heart as I lived there for 5 years and I remember being super humbled as a chef because everyone was so connected to food, ingredients and origins. It’s a way of life there…and I really loved every minute of it.

Michael Caballo

Michael Caballo (left)

Michael Caballo of Edulis in Toronto.

1) When you are creating a dish for a spectacular event like your Chef Collaboration dinner with Bao Bei, how do you go about creating that dish?

The most important thing to me is that even though we are two very distinct chefs working together there needs to be balance and cohesiveness within the meal. Joel and I decided to choose the sea as our joining inspiration for this meal and we will be doing an all seafood menu. With that common focus we then start working out the dishes we each want to do. Too often collaborations become meals where every coarse is a pigs head or something similar and it usually ends up being way too much and unbalanced. We still want to provide a balanced enjoyable meal and also showcase our personal styles.

2) How do you continue to push the boundary to achieve excellence in your profession as a chef?

I am not sure we are pushing any boundaries at Edulis, but within our little world we are always trying to improve on yesterday and always look to be and do differently then other restaurants in the city to set ourselves apart. Any excellence we have achieved is merely a result of a lot of hard work.

3) If there was one thing you could achieve as a chef that you have not already done, what would it be?

Eradicate the use of plastic in this business and find more avenues for restaurants to use their waste. The amount of plastic used and discarded in restaurants (Edulis included) is absolutely disgusting. From containers and packaging from suppliers to kitchens using saran wrap etc. It drives me absolutely crazy.

4) What is your favourite food city around the world and why?

Very tough choice. It would have to be Madrid for me. Madrid is often forgotten next to its hipper cousin Barcelona. Don’t get me wrong there is good food in Barcelona but it is stumbling toddler and Madrid is an elegant, well, Madrileña woman. The product in Madrid is the best in all of Spain and because of this, the level of cooking at almost anywhere is incredible. In Madrid you have amazing high end restaurants, great bars, and what I love most about madrid are the more traditional Casas de Comida. These are mid range places where the best cooking in Madrid is being done. Think fantastic product in the hands of humble, inherently genius chefs. I LOVE Madrid!

All EAT! Vancouver Dinners can be found here, taking place April 28 to May 3.

By: Richard Wolak