Tag Archives: Chef Dale MacKay

Fable hosts a special dinner with Chef Dale Mackay

Chef Dale Mackay

Well if it isn’t just one of our favourite chefs visiting one of our favourite local restaurants for a collaboration dinner! On Friday January 30th, Chef Dale Mackay will visit Fable Restaurant to create a five-course meal alongside the Fable’s Chef Trevor Bird

Last year former Vancouver dweller Chef Mackay headed back to his hometown of Saskatoon to open Ayden Kitchen.  It was named as a 2014 top 10 new restaurant in enRoute magazine and he has continued to impress restaurant critics and guests with his locally-focused cuisine.

It’s one night only so be sure to book soon. Tickets for this special dining event are $125 including all taxes & gratuities – beverages sold separately.  Seating is from 5:30 to 8:30pm, as per arranged reservation time.  Tickets can be purchased directly from Fable at 604-732-1322 or via email food@fablekitchen.ca.

Ayden Kitchen & Bar Opening Late Summer 2013

Dale and Ayden MacKay 1MBPR – Canada’s original Top Chef Dale MacKay returns to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan; offering modern Canadian comfort food

Chef Dale MacKay – Saskatoon native and Canada’s original Top Chef Canada Winner, today announces the late summer 2013 opening of Ayden Kitchen & Bar in downtown Saskatoon.  Situated in the beautiful, three-story brick McLean heritage building located at 265 3rd Avenue South, the ‘modern Canadian comfort food’ restaurant and bar space promises a large dining room and bar, a private dining/party room, fair-weather patio, huge catering kitchen, and an adjoining new-old-fashioned fresh market. The market, adjoining the restaurant but with its own storefront, will focus on house-made charcuterie, custom butchery, fresh cheeses and gourmet pantry items for take-away. The partially open kitchen will keep Chef in-view and in-touch with his guests.

Chef Dale MacKay is best known for his precision execution and presentation of technical French cuisine, however the Ayden Kitchen & Bar menu will be decidedly un-fancy.  “After 18 years away, I am so happy to be back home where I belong.  I bring my son Ayden with me, and everything I’ve learned travelling the world and cooking alongside great Chefs like Gordon Ramsay and Daniel Boulud,” says Chef MacKay.

“I am very proud of my prairie roots, and prouder still to introduce my hometown, family and friends to a fresh and modern take on everyday Canadian comfort foods,” says MacKay. “My vision for Ayden Restaurant & bar – both front and back of house – is a culinary reflection of how I see Saskatchewan today – built on rock-solid, dependable, hard-working Canadian prairie stock but with an, exciting, dynamic, contemporary vibe. Generous, relaxed, approachable, affordable, authentic.  We will be all that and more.”

Canadians came to know Chef Dale MacKay and his charming young son Ayden during MacKay’s run-up to winning Food Network Canada’s ‘Top Chef Canada’, season one.  Chef MacKay has always maintained that he entered the contest to prove to Ayden that, if you want something badly enough and you work hard, you can make your dreams come true.   Opening Ayden Kitchen & Bar, named after his son, is indeed a dream come true for Chef MacKay.  “I considered many other restaurant names, and many more were recommended to me, but Ayden is the centre of my world, so it makes sense that the restaurant I’ve finally come home to be named after my guy.”

The lunch, dinner, bar and catering menus are still in development but will offer a stable of extraordinary modern comforts.  Several Top Chef Canada challenge-winning dishes will take pride of place on menus, and watch for Canadian bread-basket influences on Chef’s signature and award-winning dishes. Chef MacKay insists on sourcing locally whenever possible and creating daily features based on seasonal goodness from surrounding farms and markets.  Substantial Craft Beer and Wine programs and a Bourbon Bar – all centred around food pairings and seasonal specials – will set Ayden’s apart from other food and beverage programs in the city.

The space, designed by Calgary interior designer Connie Young of ce de ce inc., will be honest and grounded.  In Young’s words, “inspired by history and seasoned with innovation”.  Seasoned elements like barn wood, weathered iron, worn leather, stamped tin, butcher block and milk glass, juxtaposed with stainless steel, ceramic and halogen. “Young is known for sense of place interiors that invite an emotional reaction,” says MacKay.  “I cook for the same reasons – to make people happy and create wonderful memories.  I think that Connie and I make a good team.”

The pair is starting from a good place in the historic building on 3rd Avenue South. The address has a friendly soul and a storied past. Built in 1912 by an ambitious young farmer from Iowa named O.M. Helgerson, the McLean building is currently home to Kevin and Melanie Boldt’s Souleio Foods.  The couple, who introduced Saskatoon to the farm-to-fork concept will be closing Souleio on May 25, 2013, and re-directing all of their focus and energy on their beloved Pine View Farms.  “I really respect what the Boldt’s are doing at Pine View, raising all-natural, free-range poultry and livestock, and I look forward to a long and successful preferred purveyor/chef relationship,” concludes MacKay.

Chef Dale MacKay brings with him to Saskatoon, some tenured colleagues; Christopher Cho as General Manager, Shaylah Lukas as Assistant Manager, Chef Nathan Guggenheimer as Executive Chef, and Jesse Zuber as Head Chef.  All stellar restaurant talent, with world-class culinary resumes.

About Chef Dale MacKay
Chef MacKay’s resume, like his culinary style, is condensed and flavourful.  Highlights include time spent as a private chef in Italy; as Executive Chef at an exclusive BC resort; protégé to Chef Gordon Ramsay at his restaurants in Tokyo, New York, and London; then as Executive Chef of Lumière, Vancouver’s Five Diamond, Four Star, Relais Gourmand establishment managed by New York Chef Daniel Boulud’s Dinex Group.  At the age of 27, MacKay made culinary history as the youngest Grand Chef Relais & Chateaux in the world.  In 2011, MacKay opened his own establishments, Ensemble Restaurant and Bar and Ensemble Tap, in Vancouver, British Columbia.

In July, 2011, he was voted Canada’s Top Chef, by the judging panel of Food Network Canada’s inaugural season of Top Chef Canada, which aired nationally (MacKay made history once again when the 13-episode series became the highest rated program in network history).  In the spring 2013, Dale  opted out of the big-rent, big-city culinary pressure cooker to move back to his hometown of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan to re-plant his roots, raise his young son Ayden in a more relaxed environment, and to open Ayden Kitchen & Bar.  When Chef MacKay is not in the kitchen, he and Ayden keep busy doing homework, exploring city restaurants and visiting with family and friends. MacKay is committed to passing his good fortune forward, mentoring at-risk youth, and working with aspiring young chefs.

The new Ayden Kitchen & Bar website is currently under construction. In the interim, please visit the www.aydenkitchenandbar.com web page to sign up for restaurant news and event invites, or follow Chef’s progress on Twitter.

Westender – Chef Dale Mackay

DaleMackayHead to the Westender to my article – Life after Ensemble for Dale Mackay

After closing his Vancouver restaurants, Dale Mackay spent some time cooking in the Cayman Islands. He now plans to open a restaurant in Saskatoon.

Vancouver’s great outdoor playground, cultural diversity and the food scene are just some of the aspects that draw talent to the city.

One culinary star, chef Dale Mackay, came out from the prairies to Vancouver at an early age to work as a line cook.  After heading to London to work with chef Gordon Ramsey, Mackay returned to Vancouver and to the city’s top dining rooms; Lumiere and db Bistro Moderne. He then went on to win season one of Top Chef Canada and shortly thereafter opened his own fine dining establishment, Ensemble, followed by a gastropub, Ensemble Tap.

Read more here

Chef Dale MacKay closes ensemble and ensembleTap restaurants

Top Chef Canada Winner Dale MacKay, best-known for his fierce competitiveness, confirms that he is throwing in the proverbial towel and closing both of his Vancouver restaurants. MacKay, who opened ensemble restaurant and bar and ensemble Tap (eTap) in 2011 after winning season one of Food Network Canada’s Top Chef Canada loves ‘Food City’ but can’t make traditional restaurant business math work in what he calls ’Top Rent Canada’.  The dinner service offered this past Saturday at ensemble on Thurlow Street and at ensemble Tap on Smithe Street, was the final service for both restaurants.

“I learned quickly that opening a restaurant in the heart of Vancouver is something I should have done after building my business and expansion capital in markets that support my restaurant business plan.  As it is in the Vancouver core, with the rents being so high and the market saturated with fabulous restaurants, I’d have to subsidize both operations far longer than makes good business sense – plus I have a young son to raise and he remains my priority.”

MacKay admits that, he should have started in one of the lower rent districts on the margins of the city, where many new restaurants are springing up and where the edgy qualities of transition create a more relaxed culture. “I’m willing to fall on my own sword and admit I was wrong.  If seasoned restaurateurs like Daniel Boulud find it unprofitable to compete in Vancouver, it was bold of me to think I could make the math work any better.  As the ‘for lease’ signs started going up all around me on Robson, I saw the writing on the wall and had to ignore my ego and make the best decision for myself and for my son.”

Unlike many new restaurateurs, MacKay didn’t spend exorbitantly on remodeling or kitchen equipment, or even advertising.  “Even so, in hindsight, I should have raised more investment capital, so that I could expand sooner to help subsidize Thurlow and Smithe, or self-subsidize for a longer stretch of time.   It was also a mistake to expect, in a city like Vancouver, where residents have several established favourite restaurants and so many recreational and cultural options that take them out of restaurants entirely, an enduring market for a new fine dining caliber concept like ensemble, even at entry-level prices, and even if it is offered in a casual setting.”

The Top Chef Canada experience exposed Chef MacKay to more than the media spotlight and an opportunity to become a restaurateur. “Being front of house in my restaurants and on tour for the network and for sponsors taught me so much about Canadians and really opened my eyes to our food and restaurant culture – saturated in major centres and sadly under-represented in most secondary and smaller markets. I’d like to see that change someday soon, but for now I will concentrate my attention on several culinary efforts that I’ve been chipping away at since winning Top Chef Canada and also catch-up on some consulting projects.”

Harder of course than closing the doors of ensemble and ensemble Tap, will be parting daily company with his restaurant family.  “I can’t say enough good things about my staff – many of whom have been with me four or five years.  They are the most loyal, hard-working, positive group of people, and without their encouragement and support I would never have made it this far, or perhaps even dared to try.  To my friends, industry partners, food media and restaurant clients, I would like to say a ‘huge’ thank you for the fabulous Tweets, posts and messages.  Thank you for your confidence, support and good wishes, and thank you for understanding my decision.”

Chef MacKay will remain a major culinary presence in Vancouver.  MacKay can’t comment yet on what the near future brings but he will keep followers informed via his Facebook Page at http://www.facebook.com/chefdalemackay or personal website www.chefdalemackay.com (going live this week).

 About Chef Dale MacKay

Chef MacKay’s resume, like his culinary style, is condensed and flavourful.  Highlights include time spent as a private chef in Italy; as Executive Chef at an exclusive BC resort; protégé to Chef Gordon Ramsay at his restaurants in Tokyo, New York, and London; then as Executive Chef of Lumière, Vancouver’s Five Diamond, Four Star, Relais Gourmand establishment managed by New York Chef Daniel Boulud’s Dinex Group.  At the age of 27, MacKay made culinary history as the youngest Grand Chef Relais & Chateaux in the world.

In July, 2011, he was voted Canada’s Top Chef, by the judging panel of Food Network Canada’s inaugural season of Top Chef Canada, which aired nationally (MacKay made history once again when the 13-episode series became the highest rated program in network history). When Chef MacKay is not in the restaurant kitchen, he and his son Ayden keep busy doing homework, exploring city restaurants, and visiting family and friends. MacKay is committed to passing his good fortune forward, mentoring at-risk youth, and working with aspiring young chefs.

Chef Dale MacKay’s Toasted Cheese

At Vancouver’s PNE this year, fair-goers will have the chance to sample Armstrong cheese with Chef Dale MacKay.  Here’s his recipe for a stellar cheese sandwich.

Ingredients:

Olive-Tomato Spread
½ roasted garlic clove
3½ oz (100 g) black olives, pitted
6 medium semi-dry tomatoes
5 tbsp (75 mL) olive oil
10 leaves fresh flat leaf parsley
¼ zest of 1 lemon
butter, to taste
8 slices multigrain bread
9 oz (255 g) Armstrong Marble Cheddar, divided

 

Directions:

  1. To roast garlic, first cut bulb in half, across its equator, and rub 1 tsp (5 mL) of olive oil on both sides.  Then wrap in aluminum foil and place in oven for 45 minutes at 525°F (275°C). The garlic should be soft and light golden brown in colour when it comes out of the foil. Reserve one clove for the olive-tomato spread and refrigerate the remainder. The roasted garlic will keep for up to a week.
  2. To make the olive-tomato spread, combine roasted garlic, olives, tomatoes, olive oil, parsley and lemon zest in a food processor until a light, chunky texture is achieved.
  3. Lightly spread butter on both sides of two slices of bread. On the inside of one slice, evenly spread a small amount of the olive-tomato mixture.
  4. Grate ¼ of the cheese on the bread with the olive-tomato spread and top with the second piece of bread to close the sandwich. Place the buttered sides down in a frying pan on low heat until both sides are crisp and golden brown. Repeat to make 4 sandwiches. Cut in half and enjoy!

Dîner en Blanc® – Canada’s Most Sought After SECRET Event Comes to Vancouver

 Over 1,200 diners converge on secret outdoor location for night of sophisticated revelry

Global dining phenomenon, Dîner en Blanc® comes to Vancouver August 30, 2012. Dîner en Blanc® marks the world’s first viral event, a très chic picnic imported from Paris that invites culinary and culture enthusiasts dressed in white to converge upon secret outdoor locales in 20 cities across 5 continents. The Social Concierge brings the spirit of France to Vancouver’s first Dîner en Blanc® by enlisting Top Chef Canada winner Dale MacKay along with a host of French entertainers, including internationally acclaimed Les Noces Gitanes.

Taking the pop up concept to a refined and mysterious level, these romantic outdoor dinners are organized entirely via social media, and attended annually by as many as 15,000 people in cities around the world.  For Vancouver’s first Dîner en Blanc® the guest list will be limited to 1,200 people for the as-yet-to-be-disclosed location.

Part mystery, part magic, part je ne sais quoi, the day of the event unfolds the same in every city: the site is revealed at the last-minute to preserve spontaneity and secrecy. Guests meet at designated rallying points where Table Hosts will escort them to the secret location. All must dress in elegant white, bring their own epicurean meals (or pre-order from Chef Dale MacKay’s three-course menu), non-disposable dinnerware, crystal, and table set. Over the course of the evening guests will celebrate French culture and dine amid live music and dancing. When it is time to leave, guests will pack all they arrived with and head into the night, no sign of their sophisticated revelry left behind.

WHAT: Dîner en Blanc® Vancouver  http://vancouver.dinerenblanc.info/

WHEN: August 30, 2012 6:00 p.m. – rain or shine SECRET LOCATION

INTERVIEW OPPORTUNITIES WITH:

About the Hosts – The Social Concierge:  The Social Concierge is a boutique branding and marketing agency that specializes in consistently delivering unique, premium solutions to a select range of experientially-focused clients. We also create and execute a portfolio of designer in-house events and tailored hosting programmes for special guests both locally and abroad. www.thesocialconcierge.com

“Bringing Dîner en Blanc to Vancouver was a natural choice. The core values of The Social Concierge revolve around creating truly remarkable experiences, which is what Dîner en Blanc delivers with the French spirit of ‘Joie De Vivre’:  taking time to enjoy great food, wine, and company while being present in a spectacular moment,” shared Tyson Villeneuve, co-founder of The Social Concierge and host of Dîner en Blanc Vancouver. “Dîner en Blanc is going to be magical!”

About Chef Dale MacKay:   Before opening ensemble restaurant & bar and ensemble Tap restaurants in Vancouver (2011), Top Chef Canada winner Dale MacKay worked kitchen front lines and opened restaurants for top chefs Gordon Ramsay and Daniel Boulud. At the age of 27 Chef MacKay became the youngest Grand Chef Relais & Chateaux in the world – one of just 160 globally. Dale made Canadian Culinary history when he was named Top Chef Canada – the country’s first. www.bit.ly/ensembleDM

Creators of Dîner en Blanc International, Inc. managing the expansion of this worldwide event

Aymeric Pasquier: Born in France, he is the son of the founder of the first ever Dîner en Blanc event created in 1988. He has been living in Montreal for the last ten years and simply adores Canada, his adopted Country. He imported the concept from France to Canada in 2009 and then to the United-States (in New York City). He is the co-founder of Dîner en Blanc International Inc. where he acts as Executive Director and Partner; and organizer of the Montreal Dîner en Blanc®.

Sandy Safi: Having worked in over 15 countries, in the field of special events and the performing arts, she has been responsible for developing and managing productions in theatre, opera, circus, concerts. She is the co-founder for Dîner en Blanc International Inc. where she acts as Director of Development and Partner.

About Dîner en Blanc:
Launched with just a handful of friends by François Pasquier nearly 25 years ago, Paris’ Dîner en Blanc now assembles nearly 15,000 white-clad guests each year in a dozen cities throughout Europe and North America. People simply place their names on an online waiting list and those who attend a Dîner en Blanc can become members, are invited back the following year, and in turn, can invite their friends. Dîner en Blanc is about building a pyramid of friends and a network that links memories. The French capital’s most recognizable sites have played host to it: the Pont des Arts, the Eiffel Tower site, the Louvre Pyramid, the Champs-Élysées, and last year: The Plaza of Notre Dame basilica. In Canada, 4 cities will play host to Dîner en Blanc, including Toronto (Aug 9 first edition) Montreal (Aug 16 fourth edition), Quebec City (Aug 16 second edition), and Vancouver (Aug 30 first edition). www.dinerenblanc.info

Celebrity Chefs, Competitions, and Cooking Classes Mark 10 Years of Eating

The EAT! Vancouver Food + Cooking Festival celebrates its tenth year of all things food, returning to its former home at the newly renovated BC Place Stadium on June 1-3, 2012.

And who best to celebrate the anniversary by making his 10th appearance on the ever-popular Food Network Celebrity Stage presented by Born 3 Eggs: Vancouver’s own Iron Chef America winner and Cactus Club Restaurants Food Concept Architect, Chef Rob Feenie. Other guests on the celebrity stage include Bob Blumer, Host of World’s Weirdest Restaurants and Glutton for PunishmentDavid Rocco, Host of David Rocco’s Dolce VitaAnnabelle Waugh, Food Director for Canadian Living Magazine, and winner of Season One of Food Network Canada’s Top Chef Canada, Chef Dale MacKay of ensemble restaurant & bar and eTap.

Bob Blumer will sign copies of his new book, Glutton for Pleasure, on June 1st and David Rocco will sign copies of his new book, Made in Italy. All books will be on sale throughout the festival.

This year, EAT! Vancouver is host to three nail-biting competitions: The 2012 Western Canadian Regional Barista Championships, the BC Chefs’ Association Chocolate Competition, and the BC Chefs’ Association Grand Culinary Salon. One of 20 of Western Canada’s best baristas will move on to compete in the Canadian National Barista Championships at The Canadian Coffee & Tea Show in Toronto in September 2012.

New for this year is the Pop-Up Culinary Centre, where guests can sign up for one-hour cooking classes taught by instructors from Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts.

Veterans of the festival will continue to enjoy the same pavilions, cooking stages, and 250+ exhibitors that have made EAT! Vancouver Canada’s largest consumer food show a success over the years: The International Culinary Stage and Fit to EAT! Stage, TheWorld Culinary Travel Expo, the Wine, Beer & Spirits Tasting Pavilion and Grapes & Hops Presentation Stage hosted by the WineDiva Daenna Van Mulligen, the Bite of Vancouver PavilionDairy Farmers of Canada Cheese Seminars, and the Pets Eat Too! Pavilion.

Long-standing exhibitors of the festival include the Beverage Concepts, Bosa Foods, Cutco, the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts, Titanium Exclusive, and Watkins. More than 35,000 visitors are expected to attend over the three-day weekend. For information and tickets please visit www.eat-vancouver.com.

National Casting for Food Network Canada’s Next Top Chef – onsite at EAT

Open Now Until June 19 –Casting Details and Applications Available at www.topchefcanada.ca

Shaw Media is thrilled to announce today the renewal of its number one Food Network Canada series, Top Chef Canada.  Since the launch of season one in April 2011, the Canadian adaptation of the international smash hit has consistently been Food Network’s top ranked series.  A national casting call for Canada’s next Top Chef has begun, with applications available at www.topchefcanada.ca. The deadline for submitting applications is June 19, 2012.

The country’s best and brightest up-and-coming culinary stars, aged 19 years and older, are encouraged to visit www.topchefcanada.ca to download the application form.  In addition to the online form, applicants must create a short video of themselves in action, showing off their cooking ability and on-camera personality. Casting is currently open and runs until June 19, 2012.

Staying true to the original show format, Top Chef Canada challenges competitors’ culinary skills to see who can cut it as Canada’s Top Chef, taking home the grand prize including $100,000.  The intensity builds each week as the competitors vie for their shot at stardom and avoid elimination.  Shaw Media will continue to work with Canadian production powerhouse, Insight Productions, for the third season, which will premiere in 2013 exclusively on Food Network Canada.

For those who may need to catch up on the current season of Top Chef Canada, tune in on May 21st to a Victoria Day Top Chef Canada Marathon of the first 10 episodes back-to-back starting at 12pm ET followed by the premiere of episode 11 at 10pm ET/PT. Viewers can continue watching the second season of Top Chef Canada on Food Network Canada Mondays at 10 pm ET/PT.  Canada’s second Top Chef will be crowned in the special 90-minute season finale airing Monday, June 4th at 10pm ET/PT on Food Network Canada.

The show’s producers will be on site at the 2012 EAT! Vancouver Food + Cooking Festival to answer questions. Top Chef Canada Season One winner Dale MacKay will be on the Food Network Celebrity Stage on June 2 and 3. www.eat-vancouver.com

SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS:

Twitter:
@TopChefCanada
@FoodNetworkCA

Facebook:
Top Chef Canada – https://www.facebook.com/TopChefCanada
Food Network Canada – https://www.facebook.com/foodnetworkcanada

Food Network Canada is a Shaw Media network.

About Shaw Communications Inc.
Shaw is a diversified communications and media company, providing consumers with broadband cable television, High-Speed Internet, Home Phone, telecommunications services (through Shaw Business), satellite direct-to-home services (through Shaw Direct) and engaging programming content (through Shaw Media). Shaw serves 3.4 million customers, through a reliable and extensive fibre network. Shaw Media operates one of the largest conventional television networks in Canada, Global Television, and 18 specialty networks including HGTV Canada, Food Network Canada, History Television and Showcase. Shaw is traded on the Toronto and New York stock exchanges and is included in the S&P/TSX 60 Index (Symbol: TSX – SJR.B, NYSE – SJR). For more information about Shaw, please visit www.shaw.ca.

About Insight Productions
Insight Production Company Ltd, headed by John Brunton & Barbara Bowlby has become an industry leader in the creative development, financing and production of highly rated television programs and cutting edge multiplatform content for the global market in every genre. Since 1979, it has been recognized for its reputation for quality as the recipient of numerous international awards, including multiple Gemini’s. The company has created thousands of hours of groundbreaking television that continues to be broadcast over major networks worldwide. Broadcast Magazine International claims that “when it comes to adapting formats for Canadian audiences there is one producer who appears to have the Midas touch.” Recent hits include Canada’s Got Talent, the JUNO Awards, which plays a key role in the Canadian music industry; Insight’s original formats Canada Sings & Battle of the Blades, and Intervention Canada which is currently in production on its second season.  For more information visit www.insighttv.com.

Sunday Brunch for Qmunity

Ensemble Tap’s First Annual Fundraiser April 29 11-3

Just $25 per ticket includes a gorgeous eTap Brunch (choice of Dale MacKay’s three signature brunch entrees), fresh-squeezed Mimosa, Coffee, Live Entertainment.  Doors open at 11am, brunch starts at noon with entertainment to follow. Seating is limited to 130 sopurchase tickets early!
order now button 100w

  • Hosted by Top Chef Canada Winner Dale MacKay, Executive Chef Brad Hendrickson
  • QMUNAL seating unless booking large party
  • Burlesque Beauties
  • Drag Queen
  • Live Entertainment
  • Raffle & Door Prizes
  • QMUNITY receives 25% of event proceeds + $1 per Special Drink sold
  • Tickets must be purchased in advance to guarantee seating.

Qmunity gayest lunch 596w

Top Chef Canada Winner Chef Dale MacKay’s ensemble Tap restaurant opens December 6th

Barely six weeks after signing the lease on his lofty new restaurant space at 990 Smithe, just off Burrard in Vancouver, Chef Dale MacKay will open his second urban eatery.  ensemble Tap, as the name implies, offers casual dining with the added attraction of fresh and fabulous beer on tap.

During three private preview seatings this weekend, friends and family sampled ‘modern comfort’ food from the new Tap menu, and enjoyed a pull or two of the 15 icy-cold micro-brews on tap, or one of 25 more in bottles.  Chef/Owner Dale MacKay and Executive Chef Brad Hendrickson captained Taps’ newly renovated catering-size kitchen through full-house dinner and lunch services, but the culinary language spoken was foreign to MacKay’s five-star, fine-dining reputation: “Tap Burger, Thai Chicken Wings, Bangers and Spaetzle, and Brisket Sandwich on 19.  Barbeque Ribs, Popcorn Prawns, two Chorizo & Clams on six.”  The execution and delivery however, were completely familiar – sophisticated global flavour profiles, precise technique, and artful presentation.

In spite of his many professional accomplishments at the top of the food chain, MacKay covets so-called comfort food in his off time.  He credits his mother and Canadian prairie up-bringing for an embedded love of simple, classic dishes.  Taps’ smoked centre-cut, bone-on pork rack chop with sauerkraut pays homage to Dale’s childhood favourite meal of pork chops with sauerkraut, but this version takes an eight-hour aromatic brine bath before being cold-smoked, grilled and crusted with herbed bread crumbs, and presents with glazed baby carrots and charcuterie mustard.  As with all of MacKay’s new  ‘modern comfort’ creations, the Smoked Pork Chop on the menu belies the culinary back story – as does the very comfortable $19 price tag.  Portions are generous and satisfying, erring on the side of abundance.

Other Modern Comforts include Slow-Braised Pulled Pork Nachos with Housemade Aged Cheddar Cheese Sauce and Sweet Corn, Jalapeno Peppers and Cilantro; Dry Thai Chicken Wings with Kaffir Lime and Chili Oil, served with an exotic and otherworldly Dipping Sauce; Full Rack of BBQ Pork Back Ribs braised in Dale’s signature BBQ Sauce and Beer until falling-of-the-bone-tender, then grilled and served with Honey-buttered Cornbread and Crunchy Apple, Cabbage and Carrot Slaw.  Dale’s much-loved and Top Chef Canada Challenge-Winning Pulled Pork Sandwich – so popular on the ensemble restaurant and bar menu – appears on the ensemble Tap menu also – growing proportionately and adopting a side of Baked Beans and a cup of trademark ensemble Kennebec Fries.

“It’s been massive fun to create and open ensemble TapInasmuch as my niche is fine dining and I thrive on the enforced perfection of technique and execution of that discipline, I am a super competitive person and I really wanted to use everything I know about food and have learned working with chefs Gordon Ramsay and Daniel Boulud in Europe, Asia and New York, to perfect simple food, and let people know that there is more to me and to my culinary team, than what they may have seen so far,” says MacKay.  “ensemble Tap restaurant is open from 11am thru to midnight, daily starting tomorrow. Come see us for lunch or dinner, or just pull up a seat at the bar.”

Chef MacKay invites guests to:

ensemble restaurant & bar

Modern French cuisine. A casually elegant, 80-seat restaurant and bar on the residential edge of downtown Vancouver’s shopping and entertainment district. Combining the classic French techniques and precision execution that earned Dale his Five Diamond reputation, with the casual, cosmopolitan vibe of Vancouver – ensemble promises an extraordinary culinary experience in a fun and approachable environment. Tasting size plates, contemporary cocktails, and an extensive wine list.  Resident Executive Chef/Owner Dale MacKay, Executive Sous Chef Ryan Mielty, General Manager Kevin Van Hullebush. Open Tuesday thru Sunday for 5pm-11pm dinner service. Located at 850 Thurlow street, one block west of Burrard, at Smithe.  Reservations recommended but walk-ins welcome.  For information call 604.569.1770 or visit www.ensemblerestaurant.com.  Twitter:  ensemblevan   Facebook: ensemblevan

ensemble Tap restaurant

Modern Comfort cuisine and fresh beer on tap.  A casual, neighborhood taphouse style restaurant featuring simple comfort foods designed for modern urban diners, and an extensive blend of 40 Canadian and Euro microbrews on tap (15) and in bottles.  A 60-seat mezzanine for private parties, 40’ live-edge eat-or-drink-at bar with18 high-back stools, a 60-seat main dining room that opens onto a summer sidewalk patio, and 14 flat screens on two levels. Chef/Owner Dale MacKay, Executive Chef Brad Hendrickson, General Manager Chris Cho.  Open from 11-midnight daily for lunch and dinner service. Located at 990 Smithe, just east of Burrard next to the Scotia Theatre.  Walk-in. No reservation required for parties of less than eight.  Street and lot parking nearby.  For information call 604.566.9770 or visit *www.ensembletap.com.  Twitter: ensembletap  Facebook: ensembletap  *website in development, but sign-up for ensemble news at ensembletap.com

ensemble catering

Operating from the ensemble Tap restaurant kitchen, ensemble catering offers a variety of favourite and ethnic sandwiches on classic and specialty breads; plus green, potato and pasta salads; pie and cookies; and a build-your-own-sandwich platter.  Free delivery to the downtown core on $100 minimum order, or pick-up with no minimum. Chefs request at 4pm cut-off for next-day delivery.  For information call 604.566.9770 or visit *www.ensembletap.com.  Twitter: ensembletap  Facebook: ensembletap

*website in development, but sign-up for ensemble news at ensembletap.com

About Chef Dale MacKay

Chef MacKay’s resume, like his culinary style, is condensed and flavourful.  Highlights include time spent as a private chef in Italy; as Executive Chef at an exclusive BC resort; protégé to Chef Gordon Ramsay at his restaurants in Tokyo, New York, and London; then most recently, as Executive Chef of Lumière, Vancouver’s Five Diamond, Four Star, Relais Gourmand establishment managed by New York Chef Daniel Boulud’s Dinex Group.  At the age of 27, MacKay made culinary history as the youngest Grand Chef Relais & Chateaux in the world.

In May of 2011, MacKay opened his own establishment, ensemble restaurant and bar, an 80-seat modern French restaurant on the residential edge of downtown Vancouver’s shopping and entertainment district.  In July, 2011, he was voted Canada’s Top Chef, by the judging panel of Food Network Canada’s inaugural season of Top Chef Canada, which aired nationally (MacKay made history once again when the 13-episode series became the highest rated program in network history).  On December 6, 2011 MacKay will open ensemble Tap restaurant, a 140-seat casual restaurant offering modern comfort food and 40 global beers (15 on tap).  When Chef MacKay is not in the kitchen or on the floor at ensemble, he and his son Ayden keep busy doing homework, exploring city restaurants, and visiting family and friends. MacKay is committed to passing his good fortune forward, mentoring at-risk youth, and working with aspiring young chefs.