The much anticipated #TofinoEats Chef Series dinner featuring the culinary magic of both guest Chef Alex Chen and hosting Chef Paul Moran was truly nothing short of outstanding.
Earlier in the day I had the opportunity to sit in on the activity happening in the kitchen at 1909. Both Chef Chen and Chef Moran gave minute detail of the dishes they had created and welcomed their team to sample each one. Every dish was plated, described and discussed with the servers who would be working during the evening. It gave an interesting perspective to what was to come. The effort, the skill, and the dedication to the art of fine dining was evident in the descriptions the chefs gave as one by one every dish was placed on a large table under the curious and watchful eye of the entire culinary team at 1909 Kitchen. The pride of the two chefs working together to create one exceptional dinner shone through the professional veneer as the excitement started to build.
Both Chef Chen and Chef Moran are committed to locally sourced, ultra fresh ingredients of discriminating quality and their dishes reflected this in their creation. With an emphasis on local seafood every dish was thoughtfully created. Every dish was excellent. The concept at 1909 Kitchen is sharing plates making it possible to enjoy a greater number of the outstanding dishes. Picking and choosing was no small task but we definitely indulged ourselves. Starting with…
à la carte menu Boulevard
Parker House Roll
Side Stripe Prawn Butter
How can you possibly say no to Park House Rolls, and add in Side Stripe Shrimp Butter, we quickly made short work of this pan of rolls. I still can’t believe the serving was so generous. We did actually take some away because we wanted our appetite for the dishes yet to come.
Humbolt Squid “Tagliatelle”
This dish was described as having just the right bite with the Putanesca sauce. What a terrific combination, succulent squid perfectly finished with the burst of flavour from the rich sauce.
Wood Roasted Mussel Gratin
Miso Butter Crust, Verjus + Sake Emulsion
We could not get enough of the Miso Butter Crust Honey Mussels. Although we had been concerned about overeating that went right out the window when these beauties were brought to the table.
Poached Side Stripe Shrimp, Dungeness Crab, Sea Asparagus, Morel Mushroom
What can you say about a dish that ticks all the texture and taste boxes. Rich and delicious. This would make a main all on its own. You probably wouldn’t want to share it anyway.
Wood Roasted Sable Fish
Maitake Mushroom, New Zealand Spinach, Cantonese Flavours
Served with XO Sauce Fried Rice
You can’t get much more West Coast than Sable Fish. The sauce added the ideal companion to the flavour of the wood roasted dish which paired very nicely with the fried rice. A dish that was deceivingly light, tender in texture, flavourful, and sharing between two was just right.
à la carte menu 1909 Kitchen
Wild Spring Salmon Tartare *
Sea Weed Dusted Triple Cooked Fries, Dill, Creme Fraiche, Shallot, Spring Shoots
Crispy Nori fries, dill, caper, cornichon, shallot, chives, lemon vinegar. Declared excellent, the salmon was very flavourful and the dill was a nice addition to the dish.
Roasted Veal Loin + Albacore Tuna
Parsley, Shiso, Peppercress
According to Chef Paul Moran this dish was inspired by his time at West Restaurant in Vancouver. You could almost say it was 15 years in the making, or at least 15 years arriving on the table at 1909 Kitchen. A superb take on Piedmont traditional vitello tonnato. Here’s hoping this one makes it to the 1909 Kitchen dinner menu permanently.
Kelp + Radish Salad
Sesame + Sake Dressing
A tribute to not only healthy eating but to the surrounding sea and it’s bounty.
Crispy Shitakes *
Stuffed with Humboldt Squid, Charred Alder + Kelp Dashi
Stuffed with Humboldt Squid, ginger, charred alder dashi broth.
Toquaht Bay Scallops
Yukon Gold Potato, Double Smoked Bacon, Asparagus, Sea Chives
Lurking under the “to die for” Hollandaise topping were the most phenomenal scallops I think I have ever tasted. Melt in your mouth flavour and cooked just to perfection and no more. Surrounded by tiny little morsels of Yukon gold potatoes. Our final dish was as fantastic as the first, and each, and every dish in between.
The wine pairings:
I literally cannot remember the last time I dined on dishes as outstanding as these served at the #TofinoEats Chef Series on April 27. Every dish we sampled was as good as the previous dish. It would be impossible to choose just one favourite. Each dish was thoughtfully prepared and beautifully presented.
ABOUT ALEX CHEN | Alex Chen got his first start of the restaurant industry in Vancouver while working as a dishwasher and busboy after emigrating with his family from Malaysia at the age of 13. From that auspicious start Chen went on to build an impressive resume with more than a decade of experience at some of the most acclaimed hotel properties across North America, including the world-renowned Beverly Hills Hotel and Polo Lounge and Four Seasons Hotels in Toronto and Chicago. A classically trained chef with a true taste for high-pressure culinary competitions, Chen led Team Canada to a top-10 finish at the 2013 Bocuse d’Or in Lyon, France prior to opening Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar in 2014 and went on to claim top spot in both the 2015 and ’17 editions of the annual Gold Medal Plates regional championships in Victoria, BC, as well as the gold medal at the 2018 Canadian Culinary Championships in Kelowna, BC.
Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar Executive Chef Alex Chen has been promoted to new key roles within the restaurant and beyond. Chen to Divide Time Between Boulevard and Larger Role in Sutton Place Hotels’ Luxury Brand. Alex Chen is one of Canada’s most respected chefs and an All-Clad Canada Ambassador.
ABOUT PAUL MORAN | Chef Moran started his impressive career as an apprentice with WEST Restaurant in his hometown of Vancouver under the leadership of renowned Chef David Hawksworth. He was the first-ever recipient of the Hawksworth Young Chef Scholarship, which awarded him the opportunity to stage at the legendary Pujol in Mexico City.
1909 Kitchen’s Chef Paul Moran competes in Canada’s most prestigious culinary competition against the best and brightest professional chefs across Canada on Top Chef Canada, premiering April 1, at 7 p.m. PT / 10 p.m. ET on Food Network Canada. Chef Moran finds himself up against ten other professional chefs in the seventh season of the intense cooking show – competing for the coveted title of Canada’s Top Chef and the grand prize of $100,000.