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Review and photo by Mia Stainsby, Sept. 4, 2019
It’s like a two-Michelin calibre meal for a mere $55. Wine matches for the five-course meal with an amuse bouche and mignardise ending is $22.
I’m reading your mind and it’s saying, ‘OK, what’s the catch.’ Right, there is one but it wasn’t a deal breaker for me. These Chef’s Table pop-ups are at Vancouver Community College (VCC) so when it comes to ambience and service, Michelin level it ain’t. Service, you could say is sweet and uncertain, not suavely professional. But it gets an 'A' for food.
But I’m telling you, the food compares more than favourably to haute meals where I’ve wanted to swat away silly theatrics and giggle at architectural presentations served with stiff, humourless formality.
The Chef’s Table was at VCC’s East Broadway campus in an institutional setting but last January, it moved to JJ’s Restaurant at the Downtown campus, which is set up as a restaurant. In the past, there’ve been many a panicked guest who arrived at this location when they should have been on East Broadway. Recalculating! Recalculating!
Chef Hamid Salimian is the instructor and what he does with his classes is breathtaking. The food is imaginative, beautifully presented, balanced, delicious, and flawless. Many of the dishes employ modernist techniques but without screaming ‘look at me, look at me!’ Instead, elements dovetail into a meaningful presentation.
Our seven-part dinner began with a ‘Parmesan foam snack’ involving sous vide, vacuum cooking, hydrocolloid, and liquid nitrogen. Pickled heirloom tomato, sorrel purée, green olive dust added colour and flavour. A lemon basil simple syrup was cooked under vacuum then ‘aged‘ in an ultrasonic bath.
“In 45 minutes, it’s like it’s aged for six to eight months. Aging happens when molecules start moving fast. It changes the flavour,” says Salimian.
Reserve your seats now for our next limited-edition VCC Chef’s Table pop-up dinner series.