June 26, 2014

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World Class Chefs work collectively to create new inspiration

"Instead of a group of chefs working individually, it is a group of chefs working collectively."

Earls had always looked outside of the box for inspiration, whether that was in faraway lands, new ingredients and cooking methods, or local and visiting chefs. The guest chef program in the past had seen Vancouver’s top fine dining chef, an Iron Chef, award winning international chefs and world renowned ethnic chefs contribute to the menu but just over a year ago Earls made a discovery that has changed the way they create their dishes. It was to have all the chefs in the kitchen at the same time.

Instead of working with a small team of in-house culinary development chefs with guest chefs and chef consultants contributing a menu item, or with a “celebrity chef” putting their name on the entire menu, Earls decided to hire some of those consulting chefs to work for the company, some full time, some part time, but to have all of them work together collaboratively. Their talents are vastly different, yet equal, as are their positions in the kitchen.

They noticed dishes that started with a brilliant idea from one chef could be elevated even further by another, or the reverse, a complicated fine dining recipe one chef brought to the table could be simplified and reworked to make a great Earls dish. Chefs working together brought new ideas, new cooking techniques, new ingredients and new inspiration into Earls Test Kitchen, so instead of a group of chefs working individually, it was a group of chefs working collectively.

Tapping into the cooking styles, different culinary training and ethnic backgrounds have resulted in some pretty exciting dishes in the Earls Test kitchen and this summer you will find a dozen or more of the new dishes on various Earls’ menus. In light of that Earls thought it was time to introduce you to the chefs themselves.

See [VIDEO] of the Earls Chef Collective in action.

Chef Dawn Doucette; Home town Vancouver, originally from Toronto

Chef Dawn Doucette works full time for Earls in culinary development. A chef with many years experience, she was educated at the California Culinary Academy with a degree in Culinary Arts in addition to a professional sushi certificate from TheCalifornia Sushi Academy in Los Angeles (which led to a dream trip traveling to Tokyo to the world-famous Tsukiji fish market). While living in California Dawn worked in the world renowned kitchen of the Zuni Café in San Francisco.  Dawn has been part of the Earls family both in the kitchen and as a restaurant manager with Earls and as Director of Culinary Product Development at Townhall and Saltlik restaurants (part of the Fuller Group of restaurants). Dawn travels for culinary experiences, last year studying pasta making in Italy and was recently a competitor on Top Chef Canada.

Chef David Wong; Home town Vancouver, originally from Nanaimo, BC

Chef David Wong also works full time in our Test Kitchen. He is an award winning chef from Vancouver, most recently as Executive Chef of the Fairmont Pacific Rim and the award winning restaurant ORU. Dave has too many awards and medals to even list but we would say that  his Gold medal win as part of Culinary Team Canada in Basil, Switzerland and representing Canada at the  Bocuse d’Or held in Lyon, France - are two of the most prestigious culinary awards in the world.

Chef Hamid Salimian; Home town Vancouver, originally from Iran

Born in Iran and raised on the Caspian Sea, Hamid brings an exotic palate to Earls dishes creating new dishes and bringing a flavour twist to update existing menu items. His influences come from the simple, traditional Persian cuisine though his main area of culinary study was French cuisine. Hamid’s background is in fine dining and hotels working at the Sutton Place Hotel and The Metropolitan Hotel, where he was Executive Chef as well as Chef of the award winning Diva at the Met. He is currently Captain of Culinary Team Canada and splits his time evenly between the Earls Test Kitchen, where he works 3 days a week, and as a culinary instructor at VCC. He and his wife, Chef Jennifer Peters, are also opening a gluten free bakery this year in Vancouver.

Chef Jeff McInnis; Home town New York, originally from Florida

Earls knew they wanted to work with Jeff when they tasted his amazing southern style influenced food at a restaurant called Yardbird in Miami, Florida. Born to either fish or cook Jeff grew up on fishing boats around Niceville, Florida, peeling shrimp, cutting fish and cooking on the line at The Marina Cafe. He attended world renowned culinary institute Johnson & Wales University in Charleston before working in the Caribbean, Virgin Islands, San Francisco, Virginia and Miami. Jeff cooked his way into the finals of “Top Chef,” in 2010; He is currently opening a new restaurant in New York City called Root + Bone as well as working with Earls.

* Chef Tina Fineza; Home town Vancouver, originally from the Philippines and Seattle, Washington

Chef Tina Fineza, who, incredibly sadly, we lost to breast cancer in January 2016, was renowned for her flair with both Asian and Mexican foods and a number of her dishes remain on the menu today. Growing up in the Philippines, she was surrounded the cuisines of Spain, China and Indonesia and incorporated those flavours into her recipe development. She worked at Vancouver’s award winning Lumiere restaurant and Diva at the Met before moving to New York to work for the Ryland Inn, a Relais & Châteaux property in New Jersey.  She was Executive Chef of Bin 942 and The Flying Tiger. As a culinary consultant in Vancouver Tina has created recipes for Les Faux Bourgeois, Habit, La Taqueria,  Commune Café, Oyster Raw Bar, Terra Breads , East of Main, The Roaming Dragon Food Truck and  La Mezcalaria leaving her mark as one of Vancouver's most influencial chefs and best palates in the business. We miss her every day.  

Beverage Director Cameron Bogue; Hometown Vancouver, originally from Portland, Oregon

Working alongside Earls Executive Chefs and product development chefs, Cam develops cocktails for a bar program across the restaurant groups 65 locations as well as creating their regional craft beer program throughout Canada and the US. Cameron began his career in his home town of Portland, Oregon before moving to Toronto, Las Vegas and finally New York, where he opened Daniel Boulud’s first cocktail bar, Bar Pleiades, receiving critical acclaim including Bon Appetite’s best new cocktail bar in America. He was creative brand ambassador for Diageo representing them across the US for two years. Cam is called upon as a judge in some of the world’s top bar competitions, is a regular presenter and has made numerous broadcast appearances including the Ellen Show and the Today Show.