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 Devon Latte began his culinary career 15 years ago before graduating with distinction as the youngest ever student from Le Cordon Bleu culinary school in Ottawa, ON. He worked under Chef Michael Blackie at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa before moving to Montreal where he worked about 10 restaurants over 7-1/2 years; one of those restaurants was Mercury a fine dining Italian restaurant, another was Notkins a seafood & oyster bar where he worked for 2-1/2 years eventually rising to the head chef position Notkins and Co.
He then moved to Vancouver and has been here for over 5 years, he got a job at The Acorn as a Sous Chef which he did for a year and then moved up to Chef de Cuisine, then 2 years ago he became the Head Chef.
You can follow Chef Devon Latte on Instagram @cheflatte6
What has this last year been like for you?
Challenging, rewarding, and a bit of a nuisance, a real roller coaster.
Is there a minimum for the chefs tasting menu at The Acorn?
The chefs tasting menu I can adapt and create it for 1 person.
How did the chefs tasting menu come about?
As a team of me, Brian Luptak (former Head Chef) and Shira Blustein (owner) we created it together and offered it as a 3 course where people could choose.
How much is the chefs tasting menu currently? It’s $64 per person.
How did the pandemic affect you?
We survived because of the addition of our market. Selling farm vegetables, eggs at the window that we were using ourselves. It took off and we were able to buy more to keep the farmers afloat and ourselves afloat.
Is their a perception that vegetables are cheap?
Yes I think people think it is especially if buying in Chinatown. But we are buying from local farmers, and organic for the most part, so we are paying top dollar.
From a food systems point of view, we can’t keep importing all this food, chemicals people don’t know about, there needs to be more education on that. It needs to change and people need to buy more local.
Why are you a citrus free kitchen?
We are a citrus free kitchen because most of it is imported. The buying system is how we came to doing this, we look to use what ever is grown here in Canada.
What is selflishly for you?
All the ingredients that come in the door are 100% Canadian ingredients. We only use apple cider and white vinegar. All the grains are from the Flourist, and wild rice is from Saskatchewan.
What ingredients do you go foraging for?
First I have to credit Lance (of Lance Wildcraft) for the knowledge of foraging.
Morels, chanterelles, minors letece, oxi daisy, nootka rose, spruce tips, sea asparagus, sea coriander, devils club.
Where were you most recently making chanterelles?
Have you ever come across wild animals while foraging in the forest?
One time I came across a black bear, for the most part it’s been safe, but I take bear spray, extra water, you have to know what you are doing.
Is there a going rate to buy chanterelles now?
$13-$17 per pound locally
Is this chanterelle season right now?
Yes usually the 1st or 2nd weekend in September
Lance Wildcraft chanterelles
Caramelized walla walla onion
Can you use butter when you cook chantrelles or do you prefer to use oil?
I always start with oil, and always finish with butter.
How long do chantrelles take to grow when growing in the forest?
What does adding Wakame powder to the dish do to the flavour?
I think it just intensifies the flavour of the mushroom.
Describe the relationships you have developed with the farmers you have worked with in your restaurant
A lot of those farmers are like family, we list them on the back of our menus, I have a lot of close relationships with a lot of these people. I go to the farm we cook dinner and I stay over. We would be nothing with out them.
What does a Vegetarian restaurant look for when it comes to the fall harvest season?
Mushrooms, fall in bc is a misconception that it just becomes squash. I look for end of season tomatoes, melon, plums, pears, cabbage, fresh potatoes coming out of the ground, carrot harvest, dried and fresh beans.
Who are some of the best farmers locally?
Cropthorne, Klippers, North arm, Hannabrook, Local harvest
cheddar & Graffiti cauliflower
citrus leaf+ Huacatay (purple cauliflower)
(The dish is a rendition of cauliflower and cheese sauce. )
What is cauliflower mushroom?
It doesn’t grow too much in abundance, it grows on Vancouver Island.
What is your fonduta made out of?
Goat gouda from Smits and Co.w out in Chilliwack.
What is Wakatai?
Wakatai is a preuvian mint
What are your favourite Foods to eat?
I eat out of my own garden at home, tomatoes, cucumbers, radishes
A bowl of Pho (I go an eat this once a week)
What are your favourite restaurants to eat in Vancouver outside of where you work?
Les Faux borgious
What do you like to do in your Off Time?
Be outside, camping, canoeing, foraging, playing hockey , eating
Pastrami smoked beet
ox eye daisy
What farm are the turnips coming from?
All the turnips are coming from Cropthorne farm.
What exactly is an ox eye daisy plant?
It is a wild plant that bulbs out before it flowers and you get these tiny bulbs, it grows on the side of dirt roads or walking paths.
What’s the vegetable over there on the tray that just came out of oven?
That is whole roasted Kohlrabi
Let me cut up some for you to taste, it’s simple with a drizzle of oil on top and a dash of pepper.
Stay tuned for the next chef in the Dishing with the Chef series.
By: Richard Wolak