Interview with Chef Brian Luptak

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 Luptak

Chef Brian Luptak

Brian grew up in Ontario, at 15 years old he began his career in what was to become the hospitality industry as a dishwasher at a Schnitzel restaurant. After highschool he ended up going to school to study graphic design for a year. He then switched fields to pursue culinary school at Fanshawe College in London, Ontario and finished their 2 year program. He worked at the Lamplighter Inn at a hotel in London while going to school as a restaurant and banquet cook; then moved to Sarnia, On to a small hotel to work at The Guilford Hotel in a management position running restaurants and banquets. From there he went to work at On The Front as their Sous-Chef, this was in 2003. He ended up taking a trip out West to visit friends on the Westcoast, and ended up Lake Louise at The Fairmont in the position of Demi-Chef De Partie in the fine dining restaurant and worked their for 1-1/2 years. Brian then moved to Canmore to work at the Fairmont Banff Springs as the Sous Chef Banquettes, it was a busy hotel where he would often be cooking for multiple events running at the same time, he held this job for 2 years. In 2011, he moved to Vancouver to work as the restaurant chef at the Pan Pacific Vancouver Hotel and it was his first experience with coast fresh seafood and ingredients. In 2014 he joined The Acorn as the Chef de Cuisine where he is today.

You can follow Chef Brian Luptak on Instagram @brian.luptak

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How has your Graphic Design interests played into your current chef roll?

Art has always been a big part of me, having the freedom of expression at the Acorn has been amazing, we take raw ingredients and we transform them.

What has this last year been like for you?

At the restaurant, we launched a brunch service, took our team to cook in NY, did the Vancouver Art Gallery collaboration dinner with Chef Kris at LaTab; and I did my own collaboration dinner with Chef Kris at LaTab.

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Which ingredients do you like to play with the most?

Mushrooms

Wild edibles that I have no idea what they are such as Japanese Notweed

Apricots

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Ramps Roots

Tell me about Ramps Roots

We like to use all the vegetables in our cooking, we use the ramps and we also use the ramp roots, blanch them and then we fry them and use for garnishing our dishes, they are delicious.

How do you know the wild edibles are not poisonous?

You have to trust the people, and we trust these foragers who work with us, locally Camille of Museum Eats, along with one person in Kelowna and another one on the island. We are lucky to have these knowledgeable people to guide us. We couldn’t do what we have done without the relationships we have with these people.

The Ricotta

Pan roasting the vegetables

1st dish:

Ode to Springtime

Ode to Springtime

Ode to Springtime

Pickled ramps

Morrels

Fiddleheads

Asparagus

Butter

Urban Digs farm soft poached fried egg

Ramps roots

Thyme flowers

Dash of pepper

Inspiration:

The season, the abundance of what we have here. The roots are completely edible and the thyme flowers are delicious.

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Describe the relationships you have developed with the farmers you have worked with in your restaurant

Here they we have many close relationships with farmers including Whistler, Pemberton, Cawston and others. For example when we did our dinner at Klippers we stayed at their home and cooked meals in their kitchen. Our communication is really open with them.

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Are the farmers growing anything special for you?

They have in the past, anything we want they will grow for us.

What does a Vegetarian restaurant look for when it comes to an early harvest season?

We get tired of winter vegetables and are excited for what’s to come earlier, bring it on, the shoots, the buds and the tender greens.

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Cauliflower nests with crisp potato

2nd dish:

The Brassica

The Brassica

The Brassica

Slow roasted red cabbage

Fried cauliflower nests with crispy potato

Pickled cabbage

Mustard greens

Cauliflower and cashew puree

Housemade Bavarian mustard

Inspiration:

The Brassica family and all the different ingredients that are made.

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What are your favourite Foods to eat?

I love curry, fried chicken, steak with mashed potatoes and gravy, and cabbage rolls.

What are your favourite restaurants to eat in Vancouver outside of where you work?

Fassil Ethiopian Restaurant

Sal y Limon

The Fish Counter

Pizzeria Farina

What do you like to do in your Off Time?

Getting outside

Snowboarding

Camping

Play disc golf

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3rd dish:

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The Ricotta

The Ricotta

Fresh housemade ricotta

Currant flower jelly

Toasted spiced almonds

Sorrel

Edible flowers

Inspiration:

Fresh cheese, and made on a whim as friends were visiting the restaurant. It stuck and we added it to the current menu.

Currant Flower tree, how do you find these types of products/ingredients?

We have people bringing us these flowers and ingredients. We research them and then use them to created dishes.

How is the daily Harvest on your menu planned?

Most of it is designed daily based on the products we have in our fridge, based on what we got from the farm. We always do it to promote a farm.

Who are some of the best farmers locally?

Kevin and Annamarie Klippenstein at Klippers Organics in Cawston

Trish Sturdy at North Arm Farms in Pemberton

Camille Flanjak at Museum Eats

Lance from the island

Are you more into Beer or Wine?

Beer

What is your Beer pairing of choice with a local Beer?

Deep Cove Craft IPA and a Bratwurst sausage

What do you want your customers to take away from your dishes?

A sense of comfort in the unknown.

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

By: Richard Wolak