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A selection of French cheeses

Last night, Vancouver Foodster’s Food Talks Volume 2 got underway at the Delta Burnaby Hotel and Conference Centre. An amazing array of appetizers from Ebo Restaurant was served along with Painted Rock wines prior to the talks.

Bocconcini with tomato, sprouts, balsamic reduction
[Bocconcini with tomato, sprouts, balsamic reduction]

Homemade roti with curry dipping sauce
[Homemade roti with curry dipping sauce]

Smoky tomato consommé
[Smoky tomato consommé]

Pouring Painted Rock Syrah
[Pouring Painted Rock Syrah]

Five speakers from the food and wine industry brought their passion to the room for an evening of inspirational and educational discussion.

Jason Pleym, Wendy Boys, John Skinner, Debra Amrein-Boyes, Adam Chandler
[Jason Pleym, Wendy Boys, John Skinner, Debra Amrein-Boyes, Adam Chandler]

Here’s a brief overview of each speaker’s talk.

John Skinner had a vision for Painted Rock Winery. Coming from a stock broker background, this was a new release on life. John aimed to start a vineyard from scratch, looking for a diamond in the rough. He’s all about getting good wine in front of people who appreciate it.

“Pairing wine with food is like pairing it with my children.”

John Skinner, Painted Rock Winery
[John Skinner, Painted Rock Winery]

Every property had something not quite right about it, until one day he stumbled upon the Blackhawk property in Skaha Lake. It was a blank canvas in terms of opportunity. He purchased the estate, put together a team, sourced the vines, and in 2005 started planting. He had 20 employees for six years before he earned a penny thus taking a huge leap of faith in getting his winery started. Painted Rock’s first release was in 2009.

Painted Rock consists of a 60 acre bench, with 25 acres planted. Their aim is a 5,000 case max per year. John wants to get better, not bigger.

Painted Rock’s wines recently won another two Left-handed Governor Awards.

Chef Wendy Boys, Cocolico Chocolates
[Chef Wendy Boys, Cocolico Chocolates]

Wendy Boyz, Cocolico
Wendy has been a pastry chef for 15 years, having started in culinary school back in Calgary. She’d considered going to pastry school but never got around to it.

She spent years in and out of the fine dining scene, tried her hand at catering, and worked at Lumiere in Vancouver. Marc Choquette (currently Executive Chef at Tableau Bistro) was chef de cuisine at the time. She worked together with him and Rob Feenie for six years.

Wendy headed to Daniel Boulud in NYC, where ironically enough, she worked as a pastry chef. Her career also found her studying dessert making in the French Rhone, returning to Vancouver with a renewed love for chocolate.

At this point, Wendy felt she was done with fine dining. It was while nursing a broken ankle at home (due to a gardening accident) when she started to miss working with chocolate.

She also began to get obsessed with caramel, loving the texture and versatility that caramel offers. That led to a new project: dipping chocolates.

Eventually her chocolates were sold to friends. A friend of a friend had a shop in Point Grey called 10th and Proper (no longer open). She asked Wendy to sell her chocolates there durning an artisan fair.

With her last 300 bucks, she invested in the needed materials. The very first batches of Wendy Boys Chocolate were done for barter.

She’s now incorporated, having taken 14 months to plan and build her new business and now works out of an industrial manufacturing space at East 1st and Scotia.

Adam Chandler, Beta5 Chocolates
[Adam Chandler, Beta5 Chocolates]

Adam Chandler, Beta 5 Chocolates

Beta5 gets its name from cocoa butter crystals. The 5th form is the most stable and gives chocolate its snap.

In pastry school, Adam and chocolate did not get along. Yet he won a chocolate competition and found himself in Belgium. He learned the trade upon his return to Vancouver, with an idea of having a chocolate company of his own.

He helped to launch both the Loden Hotel and Fairmont Pacific Rim. After the Pacific Rim was up and running, the time came for Beta 5. He found a space on Industrial Avenue.

Beta5 likes to pair various tobaccos to create a ganache; their signature creation is a tobacco-infused chocolate. Adam’s also inspired by the seasons. He and his team try to work rather than manipulate the fruits they work with in their chocolates, keeping things simple.

Recalling fond food memories from their youth, Beta 5 creates a new theme every month using five new products. This has proven to be a great creative outlet for Chandler and Beta 5. Playing with new ideas has been a great part of their business story so far.

July’s theme has just been released: BBQ: backyard BBQ gets turned into a confectionary experience. Along with meat, campfire memories, and beer, a summer chocolate ‘meal’ was created.

Debra Amrein-Boyes, Farm House Natural Cheeses
[Debra Amrein-Boyes, Farm House Natural Cheeses]

Debra Amrein-Boyes, Farm House Natural Cheeses

Debra and husband George have a small dairy farm. Both come with agriculture experience. Debra hails from Fraser Valley, George from England. In the 70’s, George emigrated to Canada with $75 in his pocket.

Changes in the dairy industry and losing the local labour force made them re-evaluate their situation.

Small family farms are finished and are no longer economically viable. Since the couple are passionate about farming, they decided to apply their philosophy that food should be good, and good for the earth to grow by starting a cheese-making company. They integrated vertically by creating cheese from their own cow’s milk. Cheese making kept their business viable.

Those who grow your food should be honoured, as it’s a struggle to compete in this industry.

Farm House Natural Cheeses now use Central City Brewery Stout; Mission Hill Winery sells a Farm House feature cheese in their shop. Hand made cheese is labour-intensive. Their interns learn very quickly that quality starts early on. Relaxed cows make for fresher, higher quality milk.

Debra is one of only 12 people in western Canada and the US who has been inducted into the prestigious French Cheese Guild, the “Guilde des Fromagers Confrerie de Saint-Uguzon“, which recognizes those who protect and continue the tradition of cheese making around the world; three of Farm House Cheeses have recently been flown to the White House for a special presentation food platter to be served to President Obama.

Debra’s also written a cheese-making guide, “200 Easy Homemade Cheeses recipes-From Cheddar and Brie to Butter and Yogurt” that was nominated in 2009 for a World Gourmand Cookbook Award.

Jason Pleym, Two Rivers Meats

Jason Pleym, Two Rivers Speciality Meats

2007, he and his wife moved to Golden where he worked at Kicking Horse Resort. They lived on the banks of a river in a school bus on property owned by Jason’s father in law, who’d started a Pemberton beef company.

Pretty soon, Jason and his wife decided to start their own beef company, moving back to Vancouver and focusing their business on sustainable animal husbandry.

In January 2008, their first delivery appeared – four head of Pemberton beef – and they stored the meat in a filled cooler, customizing their own rack. And they were on their way, once Jason had learned how to cut meat of course. He trained in cutting and working the product and orders started to come in. Pleym discovered that a lot of the Fraser Valley wasn’t being tapped into. He hooked up with Maple Hill, Johnson Packers, etc.

Four and a half years later, they have a great crew, covering the Okanagan to Vancouver Island. A new line of cured meats is also about to hit the streets. Two Rivers Speciality Meats now supplies dozens of retailers and restaurants.

After the speakers (and before the Q&A), a selection of petit-fours were served, provided by the hotel.

Q&A with Jason Pleym, Wendy Boys, John Skinner, Debra Amrein-Boyes, Adam Chandler

Q&A’s were geared towards the dairy industry, wine exports to China (vs. Nova Scotia), inter-provincial shipping laws, meat course options, cocoa growing sustainability and other interesting topics that closed a well-attended evening.

Guests took home a hand-painted box of Beta5 chocolates to enjoy at home (personally, I couldn’t decide whether the chocolates or the box itself was prettier!).

Food Talks Volume 2-2 Food Talks Volume 2

On August 14, the third edition of Vancouver Food Talks will be held at The Westin Grand in downtown Vancouver. Meet and mingle with other foodies while listening to a group of enlightening speakers from our local food community. Enjoy tasty appetizers on the poolside patio created by Executive Chef Matthew Richmond of Hidden Restaurant in the Westin Grand, leading up to the speakers.

There will be a Q&A to follow, where you will have a chance to ask questions and engage with the speakers. Each guest will receive a ticket for a glass of red or white wine, and a prize draw. At the evening’s close, guests will each receive a sweet treat from one of Vancouver’s bakeries to enjoy at home.

Food Talks Volume 3 speaker line up:
Eric Pateman, President and Founder, Edible Canada
Pateman has grown his company from a tiny one-man culinary concierge service into one of the leading ambassadors of Canadian cuisine. Beginning simply as Edible Vancouver in the spring of 2005, Eric widened his scope beyond city limits with a culinary artisan retail store and expansion to Edible British Columbia. In 2010, only five short years after the company was founded, EBC took another big leap and became Edible Canada. 

Zach Berman and Ryan Slater, Co-founders, The Juice Truck
Two weeks into a Himalayan trek, Berman and Slater’s adventures came to a halt in a small Nepalese village due to snow. While snowed in, the two friends noticed the locals drinking a vibrant, sweet smelling orange drink made from Seabuckthorn berries, supplying the high altitude locals with most of their nutrients. This juice, so essential to their health, sparked an idea. 

Lee and Patrick Murphy, Co-owners, Vista D’oro Farms and Winery
The duo began their adventure in 2001 on a 10 acre farm located in the Fraser Valley’s Campbell Valley Park. Vista D’oro grows heritage variety orchard fruits including apples, pears, plums and cherries. These are used in both their preserves and in baking for the farm gate shop. The winery’s flagship is the D’oro, a fortified walnut wine.

Mary Mackay, Head Baker and co-owner, Terra Breads
This Vancouver bakery/café specializes in crusty, sourdough-based breads made from natural starters and baked in stone hearth ovens. Mary is the author of the bread making video Rolling in Dough as well as a contributor to the popular Vancouver cookbook series The Girls Who Dish, Seconds Anyone? and Inspirations. 

Preet Marwaha, CEO/Founder, Organic Lives
Preet’s organization is dedicated to promoting and supporting organic, sustainable, fairly traded food that is good for the body and good for the planet. Through his passion for food, health, and healing the planet, Preet started OrganicLives as a means to facilitate change. He currently owns and operates a restaurant along with a food and beverage line of products. In addition, he’s a personal health coach, teaches at the OrganicLives Education Centre, and gives public health talks at schools and corporations. Preet has also been involved in numerous globally focused projects, including the World Wellness Project, Safe Planet Campaign, and the United Nations Environment Programme.

Growing Chefs is Food Talks Vancouver’s designated charity. With each ticket purchase, $3 will go towards this vital organization that educates children on the food community in the public schools. Click here to purchase tickets online.

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