A Decade of Passions Done Right

It started out as a small cooking class at Barbara-Jo’s Books to Cooks; a tiny little fundraiser a residence and care centre in the West End for those living with HIV/AIDS. The Dr. Peter Centre opened in September 2003, and that was the first year that food writer and stylist Nathan Fong held Passions, an annual fundraiser for—and at—the Dr. Peter Centre.

Top Photo:
Center: Observatory pheasant cassoulet, blueberry salad, shitake bacon, bone marrow
Right: Beaucoup Bakery owner Jackie Ellis holding her milk-chocolate rice pudding with cinnamon-blackberry compote and hazelnut streusel 

In that first year, there were nine chefs, 100 guests and $7,000 raised. Fast-forward a decade and Passions has become one of the most important food events in Vancouver, with chefs vying for the chance to wow guests with their culinary creations (and one-up their colleagues). This year, two dozen of the city’s top chefs gathered to put on a feast for hundreds of guests who paid upwards of $250 for the privilege of attending what has been named Vancouver’s best “boutique” fundraiser. The result was some very happy palates and the surpassing of the million-dollar mark in funds raised over the last ten years.


Left: Forage EC Chris Whittaker with his mushroom and fromage frais terrine with wild greens
Right:Nathan Fong (front, fourth from left, with all of this year’s participating chefs and mixologists

Standouts included: local glazed pork cheek with Okanagan orchard fruit compote and sage from Fraîche’s new executive chef Nicholas Lim; the heirloom tomato, peach and basil salad with prosciutto from Provence Marinaside ECs Jean-Francis and Alessandra Quaglia; pheasant cassoulet with blueberry salad and shitake bacon served over bone marrow from The Observatory at Grouse Mountain EC Dino Gazzola; forage mushroom and fresh cheese terrine from Forage EC Chris Whittaker; humpback prawn and scallop ceviche with mango, avocado, passionfruit and tomato from Oru EC Darren Brown; and the milk-chocolate rice pudding with blackberry-cinnamon compote and hazelnut streusel from Beaucoup Bakery & Café owner Jackie Ellis.


The winner for me, however, was one of the simplest dishes there, a charred leek and vegetable terrine with romesco sauce from owner/executive chef Andrea Carlson of Burdock & Co. The study in textures and flavours made for a wholly satisfying mouthful of over-the-top umami.


And, lest you think it’s all about the food, think again. Mixologists Lauren Mote of Bittered Sling and Grant Sceney of Fairmont Pacific Rim were on hand creating food-friendly cocktails like Sceney’s Shiso Classy. Picture Victoria gin infused with shiso, Osake Junmai Nama Nigori sake, ginger-honey syrup with Bittered Sling Moondog bitters, and a fresh shiso leaf. Or Mote’s The Associate, another gin concoction with black tea, bergamot, auburn crab apple, lemon, and Bittered Sling Lem–Marrakech bitters. It was the perfect finish to an outstanding night.

Photos: Anya Levykh

Written By:

Anya Levykh was born on the shores of the Black Sea, in what was formerly the USSR. The cold, Communist winters were too much for her family, and, before she was four feet tall, they had left for warmer climes in the south of ...

Comments are closed.