A New Canvas

photo: Katherine Hutchins

Three years ago, while discovering my new neighbourhood on bicycle, I stumbled upon a lush, green patio space nestled against a warm, textured, brick building in residential James Bay.  After a look at the intricate menu and a tour inside the wimsy and wild,  dining space indoors, I realized I had found one of Victoria’s culinary gems.

Since then, I have been a regular at The Superior, telling anyone who will listen what lies dazzlingly and deliciously in our neighbourhood to the South. Visionary Lisa Boehme opened The Superior five years ago and brought chef Torin Egan on six months later. The meeting of these two creative visionaries has sparked an artistic relationship unlike anything else in Victoria. Offering a stage to local musicians and huge walls for display of artists work, Lisa and Torin create a space that lures regulars and visitors alike with an appreciation for the arts, something unusual, something special and always something local and tasty.

Raised in Victoria, Chef Torin Egan is strikingly humble and speaks carefully and with expressive hands about the importance of simplicity and freshness of food. It is clear that he feels a deep affinity with food.  For the past four and a half years Torin has committed much of his culinary passion to The Superior spending ten to twelve hours, six days a week, making sure every culinary detail is attended to.

Grateful to be involved with The Superior, Torin describes the amazing and longstanding staff that help make it all come together every night. Torin and his fellow kitchen staff take part in all aspects of what goes on in the average night and he mentions he is not above doing any job that needs to be done.  This respect for all aspects of process as well as his appreciation for the skill of his fellow staff, make Torin a pleasure to spend a few minutes with.

It is no wonder everything tastes so good at The Superior as I listen to Torin speak of accessibility, simplicity and freshness.  Specifically, Torin chooses smaller servings,  prioritizing our ability to taste a variety of things with each visit.  He loves the combination of salty and sweet, offering challenging flavour profiles in the same dish. There is always a diverse range of foods for both the vegetarian and meat eater alike and the menu often changes, offering the freshest of what is available locally.

The importance of close relationships with local area reps, farmers and producers like Cowichan Bay Farms, Saanich Organics, Abrosia markets and his neighbours at Finest at Sea are mentioned as an intricate element to The Superiors success and passion.

After speaking with Torin and spending countless evening and lunches at The Superior, it is clear that Torin and Lisa and the staff at The Superior have created something special. They have found a niche their own and a committed following within a city brimming with artists, musicians and foodies.  That is why I was surprised and saddened along with many others, to read of The Superior being put up for sale.

But after some reflection, I suppose it would be selfish to expect such creative and passionate people to stay still for too long in a situation where they’ve already achieved so much.  These two have shown clear leadership and innovation in a city full of eateries.  Torin smiles thoughtfully at the end of our interview and mentions the excitement at the possibility of a clean slate. “Lisa said it best: “Time for a new Canvas”.”

To try one of chef Torin’s summer recipes, visit the recipe box.

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