by Natalie Van Apeldoorn
During the first weekend of June, BC Place opened its doors to the public for the EAT! Vancouver 10th Anniversary Exhibition. This gastronomical event invites lovers of food and drink to taste items that are both familiar to their palate and an opportunity to try things that are new or different.
This year, EAT! Vancouver’s central focal point was the Food Network Celebrity Stage. Local chefs such as Rob Feenie and Top Chef Canada winner Dale Mackay, as well as Chefs David Rocco, and Bob Blumer and Annabelle Waugh presented their cooking skills and humour to the audiences. Surrounding the exhibition booths which included food and beverage samples as well as food and food preparation products were a Barista Championship Stage, a World Culinary Travel Expo, a Pop-Up Culinary School hosted by the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts Institute, a Grapes & Hops stage, as well as an International Culinary and Fit to EAT Stage and others.
I ended up spending two days at EAT! This was my first experience of going and after going the first day and trying to ground myself (it was a largely confusing and heavy populated set up), I felt I needed another day to seek out the things I wanted to see.
I visited the PromPurú booth at EAT Vancouver to find out more about Peruvian of food. I have found that most of my travel has centred around the food. Even more that I’ll pick a location based on the type of food that I want to eat!
Peru as a destination has always been in the back of my mind, but what I didn’t know much about was the flavours and types of food specialized to the culture. I first sat in a food seminar presented by local Chef Pedro Guillen, who is Vancouver’s leading and finest Peruvian chef.
Peru has 10,000 years of gastronomic history with influences from Italian, Chinese, Japanese and African cuisine. Chef Guillen’s wanted to make Peruvian cuisine more approachable and also present traditional cuisine using products available in Canada.
Peru’s rich heritage and exceptional climate has resulted in a great contribution to the world’s food supply. There are more potato varieties found in Peru than anywhere else in the world. Peru also boasts being among the top corn variety producing countries.
Chef Pedro Guillen was born and raised in Peru. As a young child, Pedro was often found in the kitchen helping his father (who was a chef himself) make meals for their family. Pedro found his love for cooking and began to follow his dream of being a chef by moving from Peru to Montreal, Quebec where he enrolled in a Hotel and Culinary Tourism program. After broadening his culinary career by working at as a Sous Chef at Chez Cora, Pedro moved to Vancouver and began specializing in Peruvian food through both a catering company as well as opening his own restaurant in Vancouver called Mochikas Peruvian Café in Kitsilano.
I was able to taste some of the food from Mochikas and it was very tasty, particularly with the mini sandwich de chicharron con camote frito y salsa criolla – a deep fried pork belly sandwich with fried sweet potato, onion salad and signature sauces.
Some of typical cuisine you would see in Peru is Lomo Saltado, a beef stir fry with vegetables and french fries, and also Ceviche classico de pescado y langostinos, a fresh fish of the day with cooked shrimp marinated in lime juice and fresh herbs served with fresh corn and caramelized sweet potatoes.
Mochikas Peruvian Cafe
1696 West 5th Avenue at Pine Street
(inside Platinum Touch Auto Spa)
Vancouver, BC V6J 1N8
Tel: 604.739.PERU (7378)
A booth that was on the product end of the spectrum was hosted by an organization called TechBA. The Sizing Model for TechBA’s Internationalization Program is implemented through the concept of Integral Projection called “Acceleration,” supporting the strengthening of selected high technology-based, small to medium Mexican companies in a global arena.
The TechBA Food Sector brought some of their companies to EAT! Vancouver to sample some of their products.
The first company was Vivente Tasty Functional Foods which is the first Mexican brand offering a wide selection of functional foods, such as Agave Syrup, Agave Jams, Agave Honey and Agave Dressings, to the market. Those products are known for their prebiotic effect, which contributes to improving public health by preventing and controlling obesity and diabetes as well as meeting the growing demand of a larger population seeking healthier food choices. I had the opportunity to taste the Agave in these various ways and found it to accentuate the natural flavours of the original food.
Another company that presented samples was Endotzi will bring gourmet Mexican flavour to the event, with their products, “Huitlacoche,” which is actually a corn fungus best known as “Mexican caviar,” and Oyster Mushrooms, which are of the utmost quality have a premium taste. Endotzi produces a high quality mushroom with excellent farming practices for a variety of unique, healthier and innovative packaged products. I sampled the Huitlachoche in its natural form on crackers and then in a lasagna and it just melted on my tongue. It was so rich and perfect. I cannot wait for this to be sold in our local markets.
Finally, the company Jaztea’s origins began in Culiacan, Sinaloa, at the Chinese restaurant “Tung-Fong,” owned by the Fong-Payan family.The jasmine tea beverage served at the restaurant became so popular that the Fong-Payan family began serving it independently. With their own resources, they began packaging and distributing the tea, which quickly became a favourite beverage in the region. Thus, in 1989 Jaztea was born, creating a new perspective on iced tea: Jasmine Iced Tea. The health benefits, including antioxidants, of jasmine tea are well known and the product matches growing trends in health consciousness and tea consumption. This was very light and fresh tasting. I noted that this was a favourite for passerby’s at EAT! and overheard many saying that it was better than our tinned cans of chemical ice tea sold in Vancouver.For more information please go to their website www.vancouver.techba.org