Food and wine lovers convened at the Delta Burnaby Hotel for Food Talks Volume two, hosted by Richard Wolak of vancouverfoodster.com. Chef Daniel Craig and the team at EBO Restaurant provided appetizers while guests heard stories of how local industry leaders got their start in the business.
Guests dined on grilled lamb sliders, chicken satays, cheese platters, steelhead salmon and spot prawn lollipops, BC grilled chanterelle mushrooms with black truffles, wagyu beef carpaccio and assorted macarons.
A shot glass containing tomato consume, cucumber and pepper over dry ice was a visually pleasing appetizer. In addition, a station featuring handmade roti canals was especially popular among event goers.
The first speaker of the evening was John Skinner, the proprietor of Painted Rock Estate Winery. Painted Rock was also the wine sponsor of the event, supplying a sample of their Syrah. Skinner began his career in wine making after 25 years as a stockbroker. After some initial trials, Skinner and his team at Painted Rock have enjoyed much success, including the recent win of multiple BC Lieutenant Governor’s Awards for Excellence in BC Wines. Painted Rock continues to strive for excellence, he said. "We want to make wine not to compete with our neighbours, but to compete with the world.”
The next speaker was Wendy Boys, an award-winning pastry artist specializing in chocolate. Following a long and successful career in fine dining, and apprenticing under world renowned chefs, Boys returned to Vancouver with a desire to move away from the world of fine dining. Boys shared how chocolate went from becoming a challenge to an obsession:"Chocolate is my mistress," she said.
Today, Boys owns Cocolico, a Vancouver-based company specializing in chocolates and dessert sauces.
Continuing down the chocolate path was the next speaker, Adam Chandler of BETA5. Named after the crystal structure of cocoa in its most stable form, BETA5 offers a monthly chocolate subscription created around a particular theme and inspired by food memories. For example, July’s subscription featured chocolate beer ganache, skewers of fruit jellies, chocolate with deep fried pork rinds, and the traditional s’mores -- all flavours reminiscent of outdoor picnics and summer barbecues. Attendees were treated to a box of BETA5 chocolates as a favour from the event.
Switching from chocolate, Debra Amrien-Boyes, founder of Farm House Natural Cheeses, spoke of her passion to produce artisan cheese from fresh milk. Her work has earned her an induction to the prestigious French Guilde de Fromagers Confrerie de St. Uguzon. In her presentation, Boyes encouraged the audience to support local farms in order to maintain the preservation of farmers. Boyes challenged audiences to question where their food comes and concluded her talk by asking, “Where would we get our food if all the groceries stores cleared out?”
The last speaker of the evening was Jason Pleym, President and Co-Founder of Two Rivers Speciality Meats. Inspired by his father in law, Pleym set out to find producers of cattle, poultry, sheep and game that aligned with his goal of ethical and sustainable meat production. His start had challenges. “I was able to walk around a carcass, but I was not a beef cutter," he said.
Today, Two Rivers represents over 20 small-scale farms and meat producers, supplying to many restaurants and hotels across British Columbia. All their products are antibiotic-, hormone- and chemical-feed free.
The discussion after the talks ran from liquor licensing laws in Canada to exploring new and exciting chocolate trends. Chandler explains how chocolate industry professionals are now addressing the politics and ethics of growing cocoa including child and forced labour. Political and social issues, he says, are important in food production and ones that we have to address as consumers.
Concluding the question and answer panel, the speakers shared their ideas of innovation and success in creating new products for consumers. Chandler says, “At the end of the day, we go back to the basics. We don’t need to be crazy to stay in business, we need to make good food to stay in business”. Boys echoed the same sentiment as she adds, “It goes back to what I want to eat. I make things that I want to eat and we hope others enjoy what we make.”