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August 16, 2014 / Darren Brown

Sea to Sky Caponata at the Squamish Farmer’s Market

The boys and I went and did our thing at the Farmers Market here in Squamish today…

I promised a lot of you a recipe- so here you are – just click the link below…

sea to sky caponata-2


Basically we went around in the morning and shopped at all the booths from the local farmers and put together a little Caponata-


Heirloom carrots and squash came from Pemberton Wild


We got romesco, zucchini, and purple cauliflower from Ogre Acres Farms,
(The kids thought that was pretty cool) –


Good Time Farms contributed beautiful heirloom tomatoes, huge spring onions and sweet peppers…


At Laughing Crow we found broad beans, garlic and gorgeous baby sweet onions..


And last but not least, Christy’s bakery had a perfect rosemary potato loaf and a Tuscan loaf for grilled crostini


Ended up looking like this…


And this was how we got to that point…





October 2, 2013 / Darren Brown

sneak peek at the new Oru offerings…

next new thing on the agenda for Oru- we’re adding a ceviche & raw bar…


Oru Ceviche Tower

we’re moving away from our traditional chilled seafood tower and going with a compilation of ceviches, escabeche, lomi lomi and poisson cru-

 Oru Ceviche Tower

basically various styles of ceviche or curing from all over the Pacific Rim, but staying focused on local Ocean Wise product…

 Qualicum Scallop CevicheQualicum Beach Scallop Ceviche with Cilantro and Passionfruit


Vancouver Island Sable Escabeche Kyuquot Sound Sablefish Escabeche with Aji Ketchup

Sing Lobster "Poisson Cru"Sing Lobster “Poisson Cru” with Coconut & Dried Pineapple

Sawmill Bay CaesarsSawmill Bay Caesar – house-made “clamato” and Pickled Green Bean

should go live in the very near future- stay tuned… 🙂


July 6, 2013 / Darren Brown

visiting Cesare Bianchini at Domenica Fiore

I had the great fortune this season to go and spend some time with Cesare Bianchini in Orvieto, where he spends his time nurturing the infamous Domenica Fiore olive groves, (owned, incidentally, by Vancouver’s own entrepreneurial mogul Frank Giustra), and keeping an eye on their century old family restaurant while we eat, taste olive oils, and talk food…


Cesare Bianchini- the man behind the oil

I think that may have been one of the most enjoyable meals I’ve sat down to in years- I don’t think the restaurant was even open- we were just drinking wine and tasting oils and vinegars, and talking about organic olive farming and finding cool organic grains and beans around the valley; Cesare’s sister was just feeding us and feeding us as our lunch dragged into early evening – it was awesome.


he also let me try his vinegar he’s been working on- it was amazing-  rich and red but deep caramel at the same time, kind of a red wine and sherry meet banyuls thing.. anyways, loved it, but then he told me that I can’t have any for another year because that when it will get really good, so we’re kind of on standby for that one 😉


when we did tear away from the restaurant for brief stints to see the farm, it was really an amazing operation- the logistics are such that once the oil is pressed, it never again sees oxygen- it’s contained under a nitrogen flush for every step of the way from that point,into giant floor to cieling nitrogen flushed drums, then directly through a totally contained high tech bottling line into a nitrogen flushed stainless steel can.


I get that this might seem awfully clinical and far less romantic than we may have hoped for from a beautiful olive grove perched on the side of a medieval valley in Umbria, but so be it- there’s good reason for it…


not only was the DOP Domenica Fiore Riserva awarded Best in Class at the New York International Olive Oil Competition, they actually rated the highest point score given at the show out of 700+ other roils, with a score of 9.8


I’m thinking they’re onto something here 😉


In all seriousness, when I talk about getting excited about people who are passionate about what they do, that’s Cesare-  he may even get more excited about food than me, lol, and I don’t say that very often… anyways, we hatched some big ideas over lunch – that’s a story for a couple blogs from now, but trust me, there’s some super cool stuff going on…

let me leave you with a little clip of Cesare filling us in on how it felt, to find out they’d just scored the highest score over all in the New York Intl’  Olive Oil Competition “Best Olive Oils in the World 2013”

click here for full HD version

keep an eye on the blog, we’re pretty close to some stuff we’ve been working on, you’ll see it here… (think exclusive oils only available at giovane market)…

June 26, 2013 / Darren Brown

back to the Village Farms greenhouse…

just went back for another trip to the completely awesome tomato heaven, otherwise known as the Village Farms greenhouse, to see Dirk and  the crew, this time with all of our fellow Fairmont Chefs…

check it out

we’ve got some cool things in store with these guys in the very near future, so stay tuned…

click for HD version

June 6, 2013 / Darren Brown

visions of the new Sushi Bar with Taka and Will

Little Teaser about what’s coming up at the raw Bar in the Lobby Lounge-

new sushi bar, seats on the counter, omakase…

here’s a little preview



click here for full HD version of the video


raw bar

huge thanks to Brian Ceci, our videographer/director, who gets more amazing everytime.

(I don’t usually get so mushy, but he’s really, really good 😉 )


May 30, 2013 / Darren Brown

a mission to find olive oil – SIAFTA IV in Campobasso

So I found myself in a bit of a unique situation last month. I’d been talking to the folks at the Italian Chamber of Commerce quite a bit about our plans to import the best olive oils and pastas we can find in anticipation of opening our new market in Giovane- a food retail outlet that will carry the best of local products, all of our own house-made goods, and ultimately, the best products I can find directly out of Italy…

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Source specific importing and partnerships had been the topic of conversation for a while; Alex and Giacomo had brought out Guiseppe di Martino from Pastificio di Martino in Gragnano a few months back, and I was really excited about that- a DOP pasta still made from local grains out of Apulia and the same artesianal spring water for the past century… I’d already decided that we were committing to working with them and highlighting their pasta across property…

Pastificio Di Martino

Olive oil was my next big endeavor, and the folks at the Italian Chamber of Commerce knew this…My goal has been to establish Giovane as a destination for people seeking out the best olive oils they could get their hands on in the city; we’d do wine dinners pairing not only regional menus to wines, but focused on the olive oils of the regions as well…

so then I got a call…

“Darren, there’s a SIAFTA convention in Campobasso in 10 days- we want to send you there to look for your oils- I know it’s short notice- can you make it?…”

iTALY 2013 169

“hmm… let me see… ok! ” 😉

“(what’s SIAFTA?, lol)”

and that’s where it starts to get interesting; if you’re an import broker, this is all old news; if you’re a typical chef, or a consumer, you likely would never hear what goes on behind the scenes to support the agricultural export trade of Italy- I certainly hadn’t…

SIAFTA is a symposium of small production olive oil producers from throughout central Italy, organized to help get the farmers exposure to international brokers and markets. The sweeping Slow Food trend that’s got so many people’s attention here at home is a huge focus in Italy as well, and this is a major movement to promote and endorse getting the small producer to market. The majority of the oils I ended up trying have not at this stage been imported into North America, but I’m working on that as we speak 😉

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I was unique in being the only chef present in a world of brokers- it was actually a bit daunting at first, I certainly felt like I’d jumped into the deep end the first night as I listened to my fellow brokers from Toronto, Quebec, Hungary, Germany and Japan debating adequate terms and contracting assumptions, best routing for affordable “groupage” shipping, etc- all way above my head, lol …

when it came down to it the next day however, when we got down to tasting, I was definitely back in my element- tasting stuff is something I totally understand, lol, and I love olives- they might actually be one of my favorite foods; having said that, I’m also pretty excited about olive oil.

When I told people later that I’d tasted about 45 oils a day for 2 solid days, they shuddered and cringed, but loved the whole experience. Each oil and olive was unique, they all had a great story behind them, and the quality presented throughout the conference was amazing.

(I always managed to break for a great lunch and go out for a huge dinner afterwards as well…)

iTALY 2013 589

all said and done, it was way too much to cover all in one article, but I came away very impressed in general, and I did hone in on about a dozen different farms and oils that really got my attention, so I’ll be taking you through those in detail in articles to come, but here are a couple quick snapshots of some of the stand-outs;

Il Molino

Il Molino – an Organic Monocultivar of Cantino Olive from Lazio. Anna, the proprietor, was wonderful, and they also have a terrific line of olive oil based spa products… you can find these at Bertozzi Imports in Toronto, but to the best of my knowledge, we’ll be the only source in BC…


Cetrone – from the Itrana olive, also in Lazio; Alfredo Cetrone was super intense and passionate, i’m thinking the “Intenso” brand may be a bit of a personality statement, lol. these will be here within the week, and we’re the first in Canada to carry them, he’s shipping them to us directly…


Suriano – from Apulia, their highlighted oil is a monocultivar of Coratina, very fruit forward/ working on getting them here.

La Molazza

La Molazza – great DOP line from Calabria- good range and very delicately infused oils as well…. also working on these


Masseria Rocco – a more robust Sicilian with hearty infusions and a steel can to prevent oxidation. we’ll have these in giovane as well.

San Sebastiano

San Sebastiano – Calabria (the Tropea onion infused oil was awesome!) definitely on the list, these guys were great and very focused on doing some collaborative blending and infusions with us.

Il Molino

Il Molino again – this time with their Organic monocultivar of the Frantoio olive – pitted before they press, a very unique process yielding a more delicate oil – we’ll be carrying this one as well…

at this point, we’ve already established the importing of 4 different organic and DOP oil producers that I met at the conference for the new Giovane Market, (opening soon), and we’ll be the only ones carrying them in British Columbia… a couple of them will in fact be exclusive to us in Canada, and I’ve even got two varietals in from Domenica Fiore in Orvieto that are the only 200 bottles in North America, so all in all, I’d say it was time well spent 😉

Domenica Fiore

see you at giovane…

May 24, 2013 / Darren Brown

Spot Prawns, orucuisine, and Organic Ocean

now’s the time of year that everyone’s talking about Spot Prawns, and i guess we’re no different 😉

 we’re lucky to have a great relationship with Steve Johansen at Organic Ocean, so we’re right on top of the freshest Spot Prawns in the city (because he’s got the fastest boat, or so he claims), and we get our prawns live every day before dinner service, literally less than an hour out of the water…)

photo by Brian Ceci

photos by Brian Ceci – click for fullscreen HD video

at the end of the day, Steve’s a great guy, very serious about fish and fishing, but even more serious about doing it sustainably and responsibly…

we hung out at the Spot Prawn Festival put on by the BC Chef’s Table Society again this year waiting for him to come in with the first catch, and it was a blast once again; i think there were over 1400 tickets sold…

Rob Clark coming into the dock w Steve

big Prawn

we buy almost all of our fish from Steve, (we tell him ALL of it, but you know how it is, there’s some gray area, lol), and that’s because of how much he cares about doing the right thing by us, by the fishermen, and by the industry in general…

Steve's boat

photo by Brian Ceci – click for video

when you’re buying fish from Organic Ocean, you know it’s sustainable and Oceanwise, you know Steve caught it himslef or knows the fisherman who did, you know it’s impeccably fresh, and you know he’s going to give you a heads up when the next fresh catch is on it’s way in so you can get ready for it…

that’s about all we can ask for – thanks Steve  😉


May 21, 2013 / Darren Brown

Northern Divine Caviar at the Rare Finds Gala

Northern Divine Caviar really stepped up and helped us out with caviar contributions at the Rare Finds Foundation Gala at Van Dusen Gardens a couple weeks back- just finally getting a chance to catch up on some blogs, and this was top of mind to say a huge thanks!!!

RareFinds Thank you

the Foundation was able to raise over $110,000 that evening, and that will all go towards finding solutions for children suffering from rare diseases, so it’s an absolutely fantastic cause…

a big thanks to all our fellow Chefs, and the incredibly generous attendees who came out and showed their support!!

Rare Finds 2013 021 

our relatively humble contribution was to come out and try to do something “rare and exciting” in the theme of the evening, so we gave it a good effort, with Northern Divine Caviar, Bella-Bella Humpback Shrimp, and a textural twist with Sawmill Bay Oysters’ Read Island Gems, that we dropped into liquid nitrogen on the spot and smashed into shards of frozen briny pebbles…

Rare Finds Event

that got people’s attention, lol.

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Northern Divine has impressed me with more than just their diligence and care for the environment and the seafood community, although that’s readily apparent as they’re recognized as North America’s first Organic and Oceanwise sustainable caviar operation…

it’s also about the care, time attention they’ve put in to accomplish all those efforts and couple them with producing a great caviar; it’s already an impressive feat to be sustainable and recognized as such by Oceanwise, Seachoice, and Monterey Bay’s Seafood Watch, and as Chefs and consumers we’re offered an opportunity to do the right thing with a local sustainable product, but on top of all that, the caviar’s great, so it makes for an easy choice to commit to…

having used a lot of Northern Divine Caviar over the past few years, I’m consistently finding it to be very clean and firm, with a pronounced brine that’s got none of those muddy tones that can really take away from a great caviar experience, and most importantly, I get that every time, so kudos to the folks behind the scenes…

Northern Divine and Sawmill Bay

May 7, 2013 / Darren Brown

nothing we like better than serving up tomatoes to the growers…

Had the folks in from Village Farms for dinner, so naturally…

Village Farms Dinner

we put together a couple of tomatoes with burrata from Apulia to get them started…

Village Farms Dinner

and they brought me some very cool samples of a bitter green tomato…

Village Farms Dinner

which Chef Stewart jumped on immediately, grilled them and topped them with Prosciutto Crudo and Qualicum Scallops over a broken tomato vinaigrette- I think the sweet tones of the prosciutto and scallop worked beautifully with the crisp, bitter green tomato –

(I ate one too, but I didn’t charge you guys for that one, hehe )

Village Farms Dinner

from there we went on to sushi and savoury dishes, but there weren’t any tomatoes in those courses so we’re not going to talk about them…


April 26, 2013 / Darren Brown

Wine dinner with Ray Signorello- a Recap

just a quick run-through of our wine dinner with Signorello last night- really a great event…


you’ll have to excuse me if the pictures are a bit rushed and blurry, ostensibly i was working, and sometimes the plates were actually in motion, lol… 

To begin, a Haida Gwaii Halibut Ceviche, with mango, passionfruit and Campari tomato, courtesy of Steve Johansen at Organic Ocean– this fish is coming off of the Donna Lou, I believe the only boat out there who holds their halibut live in a holding tank till they get back to shore. that’s some serious dedication to fresh fish…

Halibut Ceviche 

we chose to match this to the Signorello Seta 2010, I really thought it played nicely with the mango and cilantro 😉

Halibut Ceviche

 Chef Stewart, Deuce and James working on the next course…

Chef Stewart and Deuce

Oakleigh Ranch Wagyu Beef Tartare, Sawmill Bay Oyster and Horseradish Foam, accompanied by the 1997 Estate Hope’s Cuvée

Wagyu Tartare and Sawmill Bay Oyster

Next up, Lostock Farm’s Squab with Red Wine poached Salsify from North Arm Farm, Sauce Foie Gras

Lostock Farms Squab

 this ate beautifully with the 2010 Fuse Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon…

Lostock Farms Squab with Foie Gras sauce

Then into an Olive Crusted saddle of Sungold Lamb with a Tomato, Thyme and Fava Bean Jus, paired with the 1990 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Founders Reserve 

Sungold Lamb, Olive Crust, Tomato-Thyme and Fava Jus

after a cheese course from Golden Ears Cheesecrafters, Natural Pastures Cheese Company and Moonstruck Organics, with a glass of  Signorello Estate Padron 2010, Chef JJ brought us home with a beautiful selection of mignardises…


Salted Chocolate Caramelias, Brown Butter Bon-Bons, Whipped White Chocolate Truffles, Gingered Chocolate Lollipops, Lemon Macarons and Peach Pâte de Fruits…


I even got to sneak in an impromptu olive oil tasting seminar at the end with one of my favorite olive oils, Domenica Fiore’s Olio Riserva 2012, which just won best in class and top score overall in the New York Int’l Olive Oil Competition out of 700 competitors…

 Dominica Fiore Riserva 2012

(I don’t feel bad saying “one of my favorite”, because my other favorite is one of their other olive oils that Cesare Bianchini, the grower/producer of these fine oils, let me taste last week, it’s just not available in North America atm, but that’s a story for another day 😉 )

Domenica Fiore Riserva 2012 

 huge thanks to Ray Signorello for choosing to partner with us, it was a blast, hope we can do it again some time…



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