Food Vancouver Select Guide: Interview with Rob Feenie
This time the FoodVancouver.com Select Guide will highlight the Eat! Vancouver Show presenter and one of Vancouver’s most well known celebrity chefs – Rob Feenie. Chef Feenie shares with us his favorite culinary establishments in Vancouver; where he shops for groceries and what he enjoys most about his hometown. As the New Food Concept Architect for Cactus Club Restaurants Ltd., Chef Feenie is finally able to pass along his wisdom and talent to a group of aspiring new chefs.
Food Vancouver (FV) – Which is your favorite local restaurant?
Rob Feenie (RF) - I have so many but if I had to narrow it down I would say there are two - Le Crocodile and Cioppino’s – each is very different from the other, one is French and the other Italian but they are both family run where the owners are hard working people who are behind the stove each night.
FV - From whom have you learned the most over the years?
RF – Michelle Jacob - owner of Le Crocodile and Charlie Trotter who is now in Chicago.
FV - If someone was new to Vancouver, only had time to dine out once during his/her stay and asked you for a suggestion, what would it be and why?
RF - My house! I won’t give you my address right now though (laughs). I have always wanted to do that and just serve people what they want.
FV - How do you think Eat Vancouver plays a role in our community?
RF – In my opinion, Eat Vancouver is the best food show of the year. It draws so many people from all walks of life. It gives me an opportunity to reach out to so many people and I plan to continue participating for as long as I can. It’s just a great family event – two years ago I brought my son with me and that was fun. The show is the perfect time to connect with people and their families.
FV - Despite having presented numerous times in front of large audiences, do you ever get nervous?
RF – No, I am comfortable being in front of people and for me it's great fun. Sometimes you just have to go with the flow…one year my stove didn’t work but I worked around it.
FV - What do you like most about living in Vancouver?
RF – I was born and raised here and I love that we have some great home-grown culinary talent. On another note, I live in the Endowment Lands and I love being able to cycle, run and hike, at any time of the year. It’s so clean here – whenever I am on a plane returning from either business or vacation travels, I think to myself, thank goodness I’m home. There just isn’t anywhere like it – Vancouver is a truly special place
FV - When you are not working, how do you spend your time?
RF - I cycle in races, golf, and cook at home every night and of course I spend as much time as possible with my family. My wife and I try to keep our kids busy with activities every night. We take our kids shopping for groceries so that we can cook fresh food each night.
FV - Where do you do your shopping?
RF – I love shopping at local farmer’s markets and at Granville Island. I try to buy organic and local foods as often as I can. Granville Island is an incredible market – everything is fresh and vibrant. In my opinion the only thing that could be improved is the amount of local produce available.
FV - Switching gears for a moment, let’s talk about your newest endeavor – Cactus Club! How would you best describe the ambiance and dining experience at Cactus Club?
RF – Cactus Club is a casual fine dining experience where you can expect a great meal at a great price point. A good restaurant should be packed every night; there should always be a buzz and an energy that people can feel. There is nothing worse than standing around with nothing to do waiting for customers to arrive…We want to serve people, cook for people and give them a great meal and a great experience. Cactus Club is always full and always has a great energy – every night.
FV - In your new position at Cactus Club, you have an influence over younger chefs, what is the most important thing you can teach them?
RF - How they can continually get better and take their talent to the next level. How they can continue to keep things simple and uncomplicated while always providing quality and innovative food. I have been working in the industry since I was 19 and now it’s time to pass on my knowledge and I look forward to sharing it with everyone.
To read more about Cactus Club please visit www.cactusclubcafe.com.
To view Chef Feenie's: Panko Crusted Halibut with a citrus butter and fennel orange salad recipe please click here:
Panko Crusted Halibut Recipe.
For more information on the Eat Vancouver Show including exhibitors, features and competitions, please visit www.eat-vancouver.com.
By Dana Mahon (Photos: Tracey Kusiewicz)
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