Wining and Dining with Forks and CorksPosted by 1ndu3tr1@l on Friday, January 20th, 2012
Tags for this Article: 2012, Dine Out Vancouver, Fresh Local Wild, Glowbal Group, Guest Contributor, Josh Wolfe
My wife and I stopped going to Dine Out Vancouver a few years ago after a couple of unfortunate experiences at restaurants who didn’t embrace the spirit of the festival—some even seeming to resent it. So when I was kindly invited by the folks at Glowbal Restaurant Group to sample of of their offerings this year, I figured it was time to give it another shot. And am I glad I did! Not only was the food shockingly good, and the serving sizes surprisingly generous, but all the staff at the four restaurants we visited (Black + Blue, Coast, Italian Kitchen, & Sanafir) were excited to host the public during the 17 day food festival. Global Group’s Assistant Corporate Chef Josh Wolfe (also owner of terrific food truck Fresh Local Wild) was particularly enthusiastic about Dine Out and generously offered to tell our readers the interesting story behind the event—now in its 10th year—and how the event is really about us, the diners. – ed.
Ten years ago a little festival called Dine Out Vancouver, that has come celebrate Vancouver’s unique food and wine culture, was created. But it was an idea ten years prior that got the ball rolling. In the summer of 1992, Kasey Wilson, an award-winning food writer, was in New York City following the Democratic National Convention where 15,000 journalists had covered the event. Restaurateur Joe Baum (most well known for his World Trade Center restaurant, Windows on the World) and Tim Zagat (founder of Zagat) saw an opportunity to showcase New York’s top restaurants at lunch to this captive and hungry audience for $19.92 (same as year). Restaurant week was born. Since then Restaurant Week has become a mainstay in most major American cities.
By the time winter rolled around in 2001 tourism and hospitality businesses around the world had begun suffer from the events of 9/11. In an effort to bring life to a traditionally already quiet time for restaurants, Wilson met with Tourism Vancouver (she had met with them twice previously, first in 1994 and then again in 2001, but there was no budget to put a festival together in 1994) to suggest a similar festival be held similar to the one she saw in New York. Dine Out Vancouver was born. Since then it has become the largest restaurant dining festival in Canada.
As a Chef I always found it interesting that an event created initially to some extent for restaurants has come to celebrate you, the diner. Dine Out has evolved into a sophisticated gathering of diners coming together to enjoy innovative, contemporary food expertly paired with locally produced British Columbia VQA wines. All this at accessible pricing makes it a win-win.
If you have ever enjoyed a meal at a participating restaurant you know how busy they can be and as you can imagine chefs are busy too (Ironically, I submitted this piece late because I have been so busy getting ready for Dine Out!). Over the years the latter half of January has tested the determination and true grit of cooks across North America and Vancouver has been a driving force. Those who have done their time in a restaurant during Dine Out understand what 900-1200 plates every night (300-400 guests each eating 3 courses) means. Imagine the dishes to wash! You’d think it would be easy, after all the extra hours, to resent this event. To pass it off as a pain the ass that you can’t wait to end. Well, there’s more to it than that.
For those of us who have come to love working in restaurants, meeting and greeting complete strangers, creating experiences and plain old showing people a good time Dine Out Vancouver delivers. So many great people are involved in bringing it all together. Anthony Gismondi, wine critic of The Vancouver Sun suggested a wine component be added to Dine Out Vancouver and it was the first city to incorporate that. Writers and bloggers alike now bring you live, minute-by-minute, commentary during the dinner hours across the city. And maybe most importantly chefs sit down, drink BC wines, talk shop and write menus for you to enjoy. When you put them all together we’re ready for great time!
When you eat in one of our restaurants please know that for us it’s more than just feeding you. We love meeting you, shaking your hands and knowing that you had a great time. If you dine with me this year, and I don’t come to meet you, please pop your head in and say hello. After all, it’s about you!
Chef Josh Wolfe
For more information on Dine Out Vancouver, be sure to check out http://www.tourismvancouver.com/dov