How did you first get into cooking?
In my early twentiesI watched Jamie Oliver make a thai red curry at home and decided I must try that for my friends. Then I tried another dish, and another after that. Pretty soon I could not stop cooking and realized that is the only thing I want to do with my life. A few years later I decided to make a career out of it and cook full time, and I haven’t looked back or slowed down since.
What is your first memory of being interested in food?
On a family trip to Paris as a teenager, I tried foie gras for the first time. I fell in love. I remember dragging my family all over the streets of Paris looking for foie gras, and frogs legs.
Do you currently have a restaurant? If yes, what kind of food is served there? If no, what food projects have you got on at the moment?
I’m the head chef at Nicli’s Next Doorin Vancouver. I host a restaurant pop-up series called EAT with theChefOutWest and ambeginningto compile work for my first cookbook, which I hope to have published in the next few years.
What is it like being a private chef in comparison to working in a kitchen?
Being a private chef is much different that working in a kitchen, it lets me explore my creative side a little more, and is certainly a little less intense, and stressful. That being said, every client and event is different, so you always have to think on your toes and come up with new ideas and new dishes.
How does your location in Canada translate into your cooking?
Living on thewest coastof Canada inspires my food in a big way, we are surrounded by such a bounty of amazing seafood, meat and produce that it really shapes my food and my ideals of cooking. I can see the ocean from my window and the fisherman’s wharf is about ten minutes away. We have amazing farms just outside of the city, so that means I am always working with local farmers and producers, to source the best ingredients possible. It is such a treat to be able to work with such great people and such great product.
Describe your culinary style in a couple of words…
Globally influenced, and locally crafted. A vivid blend of fine dining and rustic cuisine.
You’re keen on photography too. What made you decide to start shooting food on the side of making it?
One thing that inspires me most about food is the visual aspect, the ability to create and capture art on a plate. I am a firm believer that we eat with our eyes first, and I think that is very evident within my style of cooking. My girlfriend does photography professionally, so I have learned a good bit from her, and am also inspired by her work. I want to be able to share my craft and passion with as many people as possible, so if they are not close enough to come and taste it, and least this way they can experience it visually.
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to get into a. cooking professionally b. food photography?
My advice for anyone looking to start cooking professionally would be to start, plain and simple. Don’t wait,hesitateor come up withexcuses, just start in whatever format you can. Whether that means enrolling in culinary school or doing a stage at a restaurant that inspires you, there is no time like the present to begin your journey, you just have to take that first step.
For those looking to take up food photography, my advice would be to invest in a good quality DSLR camera, and just being experimenting, play around with lighting, and visuals and as always, find someone that inspires you. Inspiration is such a powerful force when it comes to creative arts, without it, it can be infinitely difficult to find your own voice, and your own style.
What was the last best meal you had? Where was it?
The last best meal I had was at Gramercy Tavern in New York City. At the time, I was cooking at Cafe Boulud and a friend of mine was a chef at Gramercy, he invited me in for a custom multi course meal, mainly dishes that weren’t on the menu. It was stunning; the flavours, the presentation, everything about the meal was outstanding. I think one of the reasons I enjoyed it as much as I did is because Gramercyembraceslocally inspired food much the same way I do. They put in such a concerted effort to worth with localproducts and providers and that effort and passion really comes through in the food. Needless to say, I cannot wait to eat there again.
If you were having your final 3-course meal, what would you choose and why?
I would want to start with the Foie Gras Terrine from L’Abbatoir in Vancouver, an homage to the first food memory I have. Thenindulgein Daniel Humm’s”Humm Burger” at Shake Shack, because as a good Canadian boy, burgers are my best friend, and finish with a perfect bowl of authentic Italian pasta, a memory of my food travels as a child.
The Chef Out West
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