Story by Adrian Brijbassi
Vacay.ca Managing Editor
VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA — Stefan Hartmann’s contribution to his first Dine Out Vancouver experience is an homage to his pedigree as a revered European chef. Hartmann, the executive chef at Bauhaus in Gastown, will be presenting dishes from two culinary greats — Marco Pierre White and Juan Amador — during the annual culinary festival that runs through January 31.
White, a Brit, is widely considered the world’s first celebrity chef, complete with the penchant for tantrums and a TV series, the original “Hell’s Kitchen” in England. While White ended his career in a restaurant kitchen in 1999, Amador continues to showcase his skills at his eponymous restaurant in Mannheim, Germany. He has earned three Michelin stars among his accolades.
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Hartmann, meanwhile, won a Michelin star himself while running his own restaurant in Berlin. During my visit this week for the launch of the White menu, Hartmann was plating recipes for the tribute dinner while a copy of the retired chef’s cookbook stood on the window of the restaurant.
“He was the first rock star chef,” Hartmann said, while White’s screaming face on the cookbook cover stared into the kitchen. “He was the first one to tell people he was going to do things his way.”
When preparing the recipes, Hartmann recognized a significant contrast between what chefs were creating decades ago and what he and his contemporaries are doing now.
“Back then, you only had to be concerned with flavour. Now, we’re doing so much more. There’s so much more you have to do technically and so much more you have to prepare. It’s not just about flavour any more,” says Hartmann, who arrived from Germany last year to launch Bauhaus.
The White menu featured classics done to perfection. The highlight for me was a foie gras terrine presented with caramelized apples. For the Amador menu (January 28-30), Hartmann will be exhibiting his molecular gastronomy skills on dishes such as “Purple Curry,” featuring pigeon, mango and coconut. He will have some inside help on the menu as a member of his kitchen staff previously worked at Amador. The tasting menu costs $95 per person.
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While Hartmann says he is adjusting to having fewer suppliers and fewer choice ingredients than in Berlin, he is committed to staying in Vancouver, having applied for permanent residency. That’s good news for connoisseurs, because Hartmann is an extraordinary chef whose talent makes Bauhaus the best place for fine dining in the city.
In other Vancouver food and wine news:
Juniper Hails Local Food, International Spirits
Chef Sarah Stewart and bartender Shaun Layton have teamed to bring an interesting new restaurant to Chinatown. Juniper’s cuisine is focused on the ingredients and aesthetic of the Pacific northwest. There’s not much fussiness and lots of fare that evokes the flavours of the ocean, the forest and the land of British Columbia and Washington state. The charcuterie platter ($22) comes with BC cheeses while the cured sockeye salmon is served with caraway crackers.
As the restaurant’s name suggests, gin is a focus. Layton says his recent visits to Spain inspired his desire to feature the spirit at the bar. One of the house cocktails is even named Catalan ($12), after the Spanish region, and is served with Defender Island gin, thyme, grapefruit and Mediterranean tonic.
Shark Club Re-opens to Success
The Shark Club had long been the go-to venue for sports fans in Vancouver. That was before it closed for renovations about two years ago. It re-launched in December with some sensational additions. The 9,250-square-foot space that is within a short walk of both BC Place and Rogers Arena includes two massive screens, each measuring 12-by-7 feet, and 57 other TVs. There’s a pleasant library area in the back with furniture and decor that’s contemporary and comfortable.
For sports bar fare, the food is good and filled with crowd-pleasers such as sliders based on the Big Mac and chicken wings with plenty of options for sauces. Although there are local microbrew choices among the 20 beers on tap, there isn’t anything particularly special about the list.
The best thing about the new Shark Club from the few times I’ve been in since it re-opened is the service staff. Sports bars are not known for being customer-focused and time will tell whether the Shark Club team remains committed to service quality, but its bar and wait staff are friendly, efficient and attentive.
Vancouver Wine Fest Gears Up
Italian wines are the marquee attraction for the 2016 Vancouver International Wine Festival (February 20-28). As the theme country for the annual celebration that attracts oenophiles from around the world, Italy will be represented by more than 60 of its wineries, including numerous family-owned operations that produce some of the most exceptional and hard-to-find bottles from the nation. Along with booths in the conference halls of the Vancouver Convention Centre, some of those wineries will be featured at winery dinners at restaurants across the city. Visit the wine festival’s website for details. Tickets can be purchased online or by calling 1-877-321-3121 (toll free).