July 11, 2019
Meet Jean Claude Douguet
Executive Chef, Gotham Steakhouse & Bar
“We have a strong local seafood program with our signature seafood special – we change it as often as every day to keep it fresh and interesting for customers. That commitment to freshness and uniqueness makes it interesting for our team in the kitchen as well.”
615 Seymour Street
What drew you to local food?
I grew up in Brittany, in the west of France, and I graduated from a two-year apprenticeship program at CFA Saint-Brieuc. The area is well known for it’s seafood and it’s charcuterie. We have fresh mussels, lobsters, oysters and St. Jacques – when you get used to such freshness, you connect with the taste and the experience of eating what is local. As a result, I have always used local products as much as I could wherever I have worked.
You are the Executive Chef at Gotham Steakhouse & Bar. Tell us about Gotham’s support local food and beverage.
Gotham opened in 1999 and I joined the restaurant in 2005. For nearly that last 15 years, I’ve been part of the food program here at Gotham. Over the years, we have developed strong relationships with local suppliers and I see these local suppliers as people who really enjoy what they are doing. These passionate people come to us to promote their products – things they farm and that they produce – they know their products so intimately and they can speak with such knowledge that their passion becomes contagious. It makes you want to be a part of it – and that makes me want to support them and their products by putting them on our menu.
What farmers or farms are you really excited about today?
I love getting close to our partners – we have worked with Sawmill Bay http://www.sawmillbay.ca/ on Quadra Island for close to 9 years. The way they model sustainability and create a beautiful oyster is amazing to me. They even deliver themselves once a week. Sky Harvest http://skyharvest.ca/ is Canada’s only Certified Organic Urban Farm – they grow high-quality organic microgreens in Richmond – only a few kilometers from our restaurant. They deliver by bike! Northern Divine Caviar from Sechelt https://www.northerndivine.com/ – which is available all year long is another favourite. The innovation and flavour that these suppliers bring to our table is why we love working with them. Village Farm Delta http://villagefarms.com/ is a great partner – and our supplier for tomatoes: Beefsteak, Roma, Baby San Marzano, cherry and grape tomatoes, Campari and Heirlooms.
How do you use local ingredients to make your menu stand out?
I always use local ingredients that fit with our menu. Seasonally I enjoy using Morels, Chanterelles and Spot Prawns in our daily features. Recently, I’ve been enjoying experimenting with Pacific Halibut. Each day, we feature something unique that incorporates delicious local ingredients. In the spring, I like to incorporate ingredients like fiddleheads, wild ramps and heirloom baby tomatoes when at their peak.
One recent feature married a host of fantastic local items: Pan Roasted Pacific Halibut with Espelette pepper, red miso Bagna Cauda vinaigrette. Local Dungeness crab meat quenelle as well. Roasted organic white turnips, even the micro radish blend garnish is local.
What are you excited about for summer?
English peas and fresh morels – morels are having great season this year – and local tomatoes.
What’s your favourite BC ingredient right now?
I love Matsutake mushrooms from Vancouver Island. They are exceptional! A lot of these local mushrooms are actually exported to Japan – there is huge demand for this tasty mushroom.
Where do you see the future of local food heading?
It is great to see local food becoming more available. Every year, we are able to source a better variety for a longer period of time. I’m hopeful that we’ll have more solutions for the winter season going forward: more greenhouses for example would allow a consistent supply of local ingredients year-round.
What is the best advice you give other chefs on cooking with local products?
The local products we have access to are exceptional. There is no need to mess around - keep it simple and flavourful.
Do you have a local tasty treat that you recommend as an awesome way to end a local meal?
I love making nice fresh rhubarb and strawberry compote or crumble with ice cream and nougat or a lovely pavlova with fresh macerated local berries and mint and a hint of Grand Marnier. Topped with local whipped cream of course.
Thanks to Chef Jean Claude for taking the time to talk to us about his passion for eating and drinking local.