Vancouver Eats: Signature Recipes from the City’s Best Restaurants
Vancouver’s foodie scene has become a bit of a global treasure. Vancouver chefs embrace farm-to-table, ethical dining, sustainable cooking and organic ingredients, while doing their best to keep the prices down. On top of all that is their penchant for culinary fusion and experimentation. Relaxed, they focus on quality rather than authenticity in their menus. Journalist Joanne Sasvari brings all of this to the foreground in her anthology cookbook, Vancouver Eats.
Vancouver Eats’ 256 pages contain recipes directly from the chefs and restaurants of Vancouver, curated by Sasvari. She tested each recipe, translating them for the home cook (chefs have a fully stocked kitchen with all the tools and gadgets; home cooks, not so much). With this cookbook, diners can make their finest dishes at home. Then, if you’re so inclined, you can head out to the restaurant to see how your culinary experiments stack up against the experts.
An anthology of recipes, Vancouver Eats boasts a collection of original and innovative dishes by 45 chefs who have put Vancouver on the culinary map. Quench readers may recognize a few of the names, like Ned Bell, Vikram Vij and Mark Perrier, who we’ve profiled in the past. The recipes include salads (Fable’s Heirloom Tomato Salad with Burrata), soups (Tacofino’s tortilla soup), brunch (Cafe Medina’s fricassee champignons), mains (David Hawksworth’s cherry tomato, olive, and arugula pizza), desserts (Thomas Haas’s hazelnut praline éclair), and yes, even cocktails (The Botanist’s Appleseed cocktail).
There are two tables of contents – the first list the contents by restaurant and chef; these are the main sections of the book and appear in order. The second table of contents is separated into colour-coded categories – Starters and Little Meals; Brunch Fare; Salads, Soups and Sides; Mains; Vegetarian Dishes; Desserts; Cocktails – and list the specific recipes with the page numbers. That way you can always find what you need, whether it’s a favourite chef or a specific type of dish.
As a narrative, Sasvari gives Vancouver Eats her unique journalistic voice. Reading it feels a bit like talking with an expert in their kitchen while they try to teach you something. It’s a book that sets out to inform rather than entertain. Each restaurant has a profile article in the book, complete with quotes from the chef that authored the recipes.
The recipes in Vancouver Eats have a rather unique layout – one I haven’t seen before in the many (many) cookbooks I’ve reviewed. The ingredients are along the header of the page, rather than in the body under the recipe title. I found the smaller font and lighter colour of the ingredients a bit hard to read – so make sure you have good lighting in your kitchen. That being said, having the ingredients up top means you can find them very easily. The directions are in paragraph format (not my favourite), and it can be easy to lose your place if you’re not careful; but the directions themselves are straightforward and easy to follow.
Stylistically, Vancouver Eats is reminiscent of nature meets industrial, with a soft, linen feel to the pages to bring it all together. There are a lot of muted, rustic, cool grays and warm browns, which make it easy on the eyes. Award-winning photographer Kevin Clark does a fantastic job with the full-colour photographs that permeate the book.
Overall, Vancouver Eats embodies the Vancouver culinary scene and brings it into your kitchen. If you’re a fan of trying new things and cooking like an expert, you should add this to your collection.