Food Talks Vancouver Volume 5/Richard Wolak

Roughly once a month, Vancouver Foodster’s Richard Wolak organizes Food Talks, bringing together five speakers with a range of talent as wide and varied as Vancouver’s food palate; this month’s event was no exception.

Food Talks Vancouver Volume 5-1 Food Talks Vancouver Volume 5-3 Food Talks Vancouver Volume 5/John Bishop and Daniel Frankel
[Daniel Frankel gets a hug from restaurateur John Bishop]

Inside a warm, holiday-themed Stanley Park Pavilion, guests were treated to beautifully-prepared appetizers leading up to the speakers inside an adjacent room filled with decorated seats that would suit a wedding reception! Talk about posh.

Food Talks Vancouver Volume 5-10

And once Richard made the introductions and opening remarks, Food Talks got underway.

Food Talks Vancouver Volume 5/John Bishop

John Bishop had a butcher’s delivery route in his youth. When he relayed to his Mum of his desire to join the army, she was horrified, replying “Your grandfather came back with a drinking habit and tattoos”. He later took notice of a Northern Wales cooking school close to the small town he grew up in; when he turned 16 he was able to attend. He was joined by many other bright young people learning about cooking techniques, and his passion for cooking began with those very teachers at the cooking school.

Out of school, he moved to London at 18, then to a small fishing village where he lived for nearly 10 years. A friend persuaded him to try Canada. After a short stint in Toronto, he landed in Vancouver in 1973. In and out of a few restaurants, he decided to open Bishop’s on West 4th in Kitsilano.

As Bishop grew up with a backyard garden, he’s always been inspired to work with local growers, celebrating everything local and seasonal in his cooking.

Food Talks Vancouver Volume 5/Isabelle Ranger

Isabelle Ranger moved to Whistler at the age of 18. Her tea adventures began by picking up “The Complete Medicinal Herbal“, by Penelope Ody. At the time, she was working with herbal medicines. Later on, Isabelle was inspired to mix herbs with locally grown plants to make the bitter herbs more palpable. Her blending experiments led her to start Namasthe Tea Company. Together with her father and partner, a small family business got underway. She taught them both the ins and outs of tea.

Isabelle compares challenges in life to skateboarding. She loves to skateboard and sees comparisons in the sport with life: having faith in what you do and committing to your goals. On December 24, 2009, she received an enormous gift from Asia: a 850 kilo packaging machine. She now packages all the teas herself, and her tea pouches can be found at hotels and in grocery stores around BC.

Food Talks Vancouver Volume 5/Daniel Frankel

Daniel Frankel greeted the audience with a simple question: “How do you make people feel?”. And then answered his own question with “If you make people feel good, you’re 10 steps ahead of everyone else”. As the president of Daniel Hospitality Group, Daniel believes that passion and drive are the two biggest assets a person can have. He looks for these two in any new hire across the board. The rest can be taught.

The road to success is paved with problems. It’s how you solve them that’s key to learning. When Frankel considers a new property, he factors in location, demographics, menu concept, profitability, capital and “the art of the deal”. With all of these in mind however, unless you align your passion with your brand, it’s all meaningless.

And through this mission statement, his company’s recently picked up two coveted BC Business awards: BC’s Best Hospitality Employer, and 2nd Best Overall Employer in BC. And who does he have to thank? His spectacular employees!

Food Talks Vancouver Volume 5/Kalpna Solanki

Kalpna Solanki was born in Zambia, and watched her Mom go to work every day and then come home to cook dinner. On Sundays, the family would dine out. Appreciating quality food without additives led her into the baby market with BoboBaby frozen baby foods (organic, kosher, and free of top allergens). She later wanted to find a way to create addictive and chemical-free adult foods.

Many of her friends who were on a gluten-free way of life came to her, mentioning how poorly products tasted. It was either a lackluster taste or a pile of ingredients to make the gluten-free products taste good. Kalpna began her research, scouring through books, buying up all sorts of foods to learn what was behind processed foods. Her goal? To make them taste good while keeping them free of gluten and chemical ingredients.

Granola, cookies, and crackers were her first three products, created under Martin’s Marvelous Naturals, named after her husband. The company employs locally, pays fair wage, and buys fair trade and local products. 90% of the ingredients are sourced within Canada.

Martins Marvelous Naturals are carried in 400 stores across Canada, in the United Arab Emirates, and most recently in Singapore, all proudly GMO-free.

Food Talks Vancouver Volume 5/Hamid Attie

Hamid Attie’s photography graces many cookbooks, menus, and restaurant websites.

His family fled Lebanon in 1967, arriving in rural Ontario. He later left for big-city Vancouver, where he held (and was let go of) as many jobs as it took until finding his true calling. It was long-time friend Harry Kambolis that provided him with sound advice: “Maybe you should try something else”.

He started to work for City Food Magazine, where budget was low, and he was advised to ‘shoot it anyway you want’. City Food led to a thousand other shoots, and over the past 18 years, Hamid’s worked with many of the city’s top chefs and restaurants. His style is expressive and unique, producing gorgeous shots whether they’re of chefs or their creations. Hamid finds it hard to define his role as a food photographer.

Food Talks Vancouver Volume 5/Hamid Attie

His appreciation of the industry remains boundless and he counts many Vancouver chefs amongst his friends.

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A Q&A followed the talks, along with several prize giveaways.

L to R: Isabelle Ranger, Kalpna Solanki, Daniel Frankel, John Bishop, Hamid Attie L to R: Isabelle Ranger, Kalpna Solanki, Daniel Frankel, John Bishop, Hamid Attie L to R: Isabelle Ranger, Kalpna Solanki, Daniel Frankel, John Bishop, Hamid Attie
[Food Talks Volume 5: Isabelle Ranger, Kalpna Solanki, Daniel Frankel, John Bishop, Hamid Attie]

The next Food Talks (Volume 6) is slated for February 12, 2013 at the Granville Island Hotel. Speakers will include Mark Simpson, Artisan Food and Beverage Group Inc.; James Coleridge, Bella Gelateria; and Marcus Von Albrecht, Chef & President of Mava Foods and Von Albrecht & Associates. The two other speakers will be announced soon.

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