MARKET Sashimi with chipoltle aioli, crispy Japanese rice, honey soya glaze

Rare Finds is an annual fundraising cocktail party to benefit the Rare Disease Foundation. This year’s fifth annual event will again be held at VanDusen Botanical Garden, hosting many of Vancouver’s top chefs, mixologists, and pastry artists in a naturally beautiful setting.

The popular event includes both a silent and live auction (featuring many rare items), delicious bites, and live entertainment by DJ Girls on Wax. I attended in 2012—it was a fabulous night on the town. Here’s a photo set from that memorable evening as well.

little girl

The Rare Disease Foundation is committed to growing and developing a community that provides a new approach for rare disease research and care. The organization provides funding to inspired clinicians and scientists for their patient-focused projects. All proceeds are distributed within three weeks of the event for immediate impact.

small boys

As a media sponsor for the third year in a row, I chose to highlight a few of the chefs that will be creating their rare finds at this year’s fundraiser.

Chef Darren Brown
[Darren Brown, Executive Chef, Fairmont Pacific Rim]

Born and raised in Coquitlam BC, Darren’s first kitchen duty began in the 90’s working with Chef Deb Connors at Horizons. Darren caught the travel bug and discovered an appetite to take on French cuisine. What better place than in Antibes, France, onboard Merv Griffin’s 15-foot yacht? Spending summers in the Mediterranean and winters in the Caribbean, Darren cooked for celebrities from James Bond to the Princess of Spain. In 2002, Darren joined Rumjungle at Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas and in 2005 he was appointed Assistant Executive Chef of Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino.

He later moved back to Vancouver with wife Alison, and joined Glowbal Restaurant Group where he was most recently Corporate Executive Chef. After all of his globetrotting, Darren believes it’s fate that brought him to the iconic Fairmont Pacific Rim as Executive Chef, and he knows his experience traveling around the Pacific Rim will pay off.

Temper Pastry owner Steve Hodge
[Lee Bretschneider (owner Steve Hodge pictured), Temper Chocolate Pastry]

Lee Bretschneider enjoys working as one of the chefs at West Vancouver’s Temper Chocolate and Pastry Kitchen, learning everything he possibly can about how to create deliciously beautiful chocolates from well-travelled professional Steve Hodge.

Bretschneider’s journey began 20 years ago as an apprentice baker in Port Coquitlam. Before arriving at Temper, Lee had many different culinary experiences in Victoria, BC, most recently working at the UVic Grad House, with stops along the way at Stage Wine Bar and Pescatore’s amongst others.

Slavita Johnson, Eleanor Chow; Cadeaux Bakery
[Slavita Johnson, Eleanor Chow, Pastry Chefs, Cadeaux Bakery]

Slavita Johnson began her career path in scientific research with the completion of a BSc from UBC in 2002, entering the culinary world in 2008. In 2007, she served as co‐owner of Elements Modern Weddings in Vancouver, where she also designed gourmet wedding cakes. At Culinary Capers, she worked alongside Eleanor running the pastry kitchen.

Eleanor Chow’s career includes executive pastry chef positions at some of Vancouver’s finest restaurants. Starting in Whistler at La Rua Restaurante, she returned to Vancouver to spend a year as Executive Pastry Chef at Lumiere, before moving to Blue Water Cafe + Raw Bar for two years. In 2005, Eleanor transitioned to Chambar Belgian restaurant. In 2011, she left Chambar to pursue her love of baking with her new business partner Slavita Johnson. Together they opened Cadeaux Bakery in January 2012.

Frederick Sean Tisdall, Heirloom Vegetarian Restaurant
[Frederick Sean Tisdall, Executive Chef, Heirloom Vegetarian Restaurant]

Since entering the culinary field in 2006, Sean Tisdall has worked within corporate kitchens and fine dining restaurants alike, learning various styles, techniques, and skills from his mentors. Rethinking eating habits, the well-travelled Tisdall sought a new challenge, and now leads the culinary team at Heirloom Vegetarian Restaurant on West 12th Avenue.

Featured Chefs

Darren Brown; Executive Chef, Fairmont Pacific Rim
Dana Hauser; Executive Chef, Fairmont Waterfront
Cooper Green; Executive Chef, Sandbar Seafood Restaurant
Adam Pegg; Executive Chef, La Quercia
Louis Gervais; Executive Chef, Louis Gervais Fine Foods
Frederick Sean Tisdall; Executive Chef, Heirloom Vegetarian Restaurant
Eleanor Chow Waterfall and Slavita Johnson; Pastry Chefs, Cadeaux Bakery
Lee Bretschneider; Pastry Chef, Temper Chocolate Pastry

Rare Finds 2014 – A Feast for the Senses

Date: Saturday, April 26, 7 pm to 11 pm
Dress: Cocktail party/semi-formal
Venue: VanDusen Botanical Garden, 5251 Oak Street, Vancouver
Tickets: $150; available online
Note: Two or more tickets, $125 each (early bird). No paper tickets will be issued. Ticket purchases will be recorded on the event guest list; PayPal will provide a receipt after purchase.


  • Comment by Anita Patel — April 2, 2014 @ 10:18 pm

    I’ve never missed a year. Each year gets better and better.
    The combination of heart-touching interest in the children featured, superb food that’s a lot of fun as you chat to the chefs; the excitement of seeing if you got what you bid for in the silent auction; the thrill of lives that may be changed as people respond to the auctioneer as he sets out Mini-grants and the like throwing in some gifts; the delightful and comfortable surroundings; and the rare entertainment make this a feel-good evening that lasts long after the event.

  • Comment by Ariane Colenbrander — April 3, 2014 @ 9:23 am

    Such a worthy cause and you’re right, a wonderful evening out to enjoy some of our city’s finest culinary talent! Looking forward to the big night.

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