It may be the notoriously laid-back atmosphere of the West Coast that’s given Vancouver’s dining scene a distinctly unpretentious presence in the city. But it’s more likely that the community of golden-hearted chefs, whose willingness to get their hands dirty in the name of fantastic food, has defined the exceptionally accessible culinary landscape. Joanne Sasvari’s Vancouver Eats cookbook (the most recent addition to Figure .1 publishing’s city-based cookbook family) pays homage to the incredibly innovative yet down-to-earth dishes made by the city’s top chefs.
“We’re on the edge of the world, and we don’t have to listen to anyone’s rules,” says Sasvari. “Our chefs are free to be creative: they don’t have to label their dishes ‘fusion,’ or ‘French,’ it’s just ‘delicious.’” Reflecting Vancouver’s food scene means that Sasvari’s curation of recipes share the same global roots as the chefs who make them: Venezuelan chef Jefferson Alvarez offers up a recipe for Latin American–infused annatto-confit sturgeon and pipian verde, while chef Chris Whittaker suggests that you serve up a very Pacific Northwestern morel mushroom and stinging nettle tart with brie. “We wanted to make sure we got a good mix of different styles of cuisine; high-end, low-end, and different regional specializations,” says Sasvari.
A focus on hyper-local ingredients is a running theme here, and so is the desire to make food that is meant to be shared among friends. Sasvari suggests that when experimenting with dishes that have complex elements, the home cook can opt out of more arduous preparations and still taste unforgettable results. This is part of the Vancouver food ethos: dishes are made not to win Michelin stars, or impress with outlandish ingredients and presentation, but to be munched, slurped, gobbled, and passed around. Sasvari confirms: “You can show up in your jeans and just enjoy it. Our best food is not fussy food.”
Here are two standout recipes to try for yourself from Vancouver Eats:
Never miss a story. Sign up for NUVO’s weekly newsletter.