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By Catherine Dunwoody

New Westminster’s Wild Rice may well serve some of the best Asian soul food around, and young chef Jericho Garcia can most certainly be credited. He shared his journey with me, and clearly he is a talent to watch.

Where were you born?

Jericho Garcia: I was born in the largest group of islands in Philippines – Luzon, in the town of Pampanga which sits on the northern shore of Manila Bay. It is surrounded by commercial fishponds and rice fields.

What was food like in your growing up household?

 Garcia: I grew up in a culture where food preparation is taken seriously. Authentic traditional recipes are handed down generation after generation and kept as a family treasure. We had access to the best seafood the Pacific Ocean has to offer.

Image courtesy of Wild Rice

Where did you study cooking and when?

Garcia: When I was about 8 years old my parents had a small cantina that served the best pancit (noodles) in town. Though I was too young to get in to the business, I was always fascinated by my parents’ passion for cooking. I’ve been a student of the craft and art of cooking for as long as I can remember even though I have never taken a single culinary class in a formal school environment.

What was your first paying job?

Garcia: At Wendy’s [fast food restaurant] two weeks after my family moved to Canada. I was 17 years old. I was assigned to cook fries, flip burgers and assemble sandwiches.

What was your most rewarding experience in your early days?

Garcia: When you are in the business of cooking for people, every day seems to be rewarding, especially when you see people enjoying your creations. One of the most rewarding milestones of my life took place when I was dishwashing at Earl’s Restaurant. That is where I started to fall in love with what I do. We had the perfect team – I was the best dishwasher around, the nightshift was led by my former Sous Chef Justin Yoon (who is now the Head Chef of Earl’s Victoria) and a very young, up and coming Sous Chef, Levy Johnston. Under them was a group of passionate, hard-working cooks. These two chefs saw great potential in me and I was promoted as 3rd cook after not quite a year in the dish pit. At that moment I found my purpose. I was deeply passionate and I was eager. I had never felt something similar to this in all my life, so at first I didn’t know how to act. My chefs had faith in me and they kept me in line with my goals. Even though I had such great passion for my craft, if it hadn’t been for their mentorship I might not have made it as far as I have.

 Are you involved with any new projects or collaborations?

Garcia: The most recent one was on my 26th birthday. Instead of celebrating it with my family and friends like I usually do, I had this great idea of volunteering for homeless people and sharing love with the part of our society who need it most. So I took a trip to Victoria by myself and stayed at a motel right next to the homeless shelter. I volunteered for two days cooking batches of food and feeding the hungry. It was one of the most rewarding things I’ve done in my entire life and the memories of that experience still tears me up inside. On my 27th birthday I’m planning to do the same thing.

Image courtesy of Wild Rice

 Do you have a signature dish?

Garcia: Adobo ramen. I mix adobo sauce with chicken stock to give it a bit of tang but not over-powering. Then I pair this with traditional aspects of a ramen bowl – firm and chewy ramen noodles, soy-marinated soft-boiled eggs (with the yolk that melts in your mouth but firm enough not to mix with the soup) and thick creamy chicken broth with a slight hint of dried kelp and dried shitake mushrooms. That way I can keep the integrity of a traditional ramen and fuse it with the flavour of adobo I grew up with.

Do you plan to become a certified chef?

Garcia: Becoming a certified chef would be a confirmation of my hard work. Although it is nice to see yourself with a diploma and that tiny red circle on your jacket, my plans are far deeper than that. Cooking is my way of generosity. I thought I didn’t have much to give and not much to offer but cooking changed that for me. All of the sudden I can connect to the people I love. I can give happiness, I can give comfort. I create memories that might not last a lifetime but I think if I do it consistently, they just might. I don’t think I cook better than anybody else – I’ve never seen it that way, never will. The only possible difference is that I really love what I’m doing and who am I doing it for. The thrill of knowing what triggers someone’s appetite is the greatest challenge about cooking. It’s not always about the money, it’s not always about the depth of your knowledge. Sometimes it’s simply about the pure love of sharing that makes a chef successful.

Wild Rice
810 Quayside Drive
New Westminster, BC
wildricebc.ca

By Catherine Dunwoody

“I used to work for an investment firm for 15-plus years,” says Rose Samaniego, co-owner of Coquitlam’s Kulinarya Filipino Eatery. She decided to take the leap and open Kulinarya while still also working her full-time job.

Fast forward from 2009 to today, and Rose clearly feels she made the right decision to leave her day job and focus on this busy restaurant, including plans to open a second location on Commercial Drive in Vancouver.

Image courtesy of Kulinarya

Rose is passionate about bringing authentic Filipino cuisine to BC, and guides her chef Joemel Gracilla to keep it real when it comes to the dishes served. So much so, that Kulinarya was given honourable mention for Best Southeast Asian restaurant in the 2013 Vancouver Magazine awards.

For those not familiar with Filipino food, think Asian with a strong Spanish influence. Signature dishes? Kaldereta (beef and potato in a spicy tomato sauce), crispy pata (Deep fried pork leg) and kare kare (beef, tripe, and vegetables in peanut sauce) are menu items to watch for.

“We also started kamayan (eaten with your hands) where people eat from banana leaves with their hands, no utensils,” Rose says.

Image courtesy of Kulinarya

Will the new second location on Commercial Drive offer the same menu? “It will be slightly different with more vegetarian choices and some new Spanish dishes inspired by our recent visit to Barcelona, Madrid and Valencia.”

Kulinarya Filipino
2922 Glen Drive, Unit 114
Coquitlam, BC
kulinarya.ca

By Tara Lee for VisitRichmondBC.com

Richmond, BC, is a food lover’s paradise with more than 800 restaurants in the city, and you can see for yourself why Richmond’s been visited by many food critics and has made a real name for itself as a foodie destination. Over 400 of the city’s restaurants serve Asian cuisine and Frommer’s notes that Richmond is “arguably the Asian food capital of North America.”

Whether you choose to dine at restaurants, cafes, food courts or at one of the night markets, you won’t be disappointed. To help you on your dining adventure here are my top 10 dishes in Richmond:

1. Steamed Crab Dumplings at Golden Paramount

1_ golden paramount _steamed crab dumplings

Whenever a friend asks me for a dim sum recommendation, I end up raving about Golden Paramount and the incredible talent of dim sum chef May Chau. The steamed crab dumplings ($4.98) look deceptively simple, but showcase a paper-thin, translucent wrapper and finely minced Chinese mushrooms, bamboo shoots, pork, crab meat, shrimp and cilantro. You can taste the artistry with each bite.

Location: 8071 Park Road

2. Three Cup Chicken (san bei ji) at Delicious Cuisine

2_three cup chicken_delicious cuisine

This classic Taiwanese dish is wonderfully hearty, especially on a cozy sweater sort of day. I tried many versions around town, but the one at Delicious Cuisine truly lives up to the restaurant’s name. The chicken is moist and coated with a caramelized sauce of soy, sesame oil and rice wine. Eaten with white rice, the dish ($12.50/large $23.95) will satisfy any discerning appetite.

Location: 100-7911 Alderbridge Way

3. Bangsilog Breakfast Plate at Kumare Restaurant

3_bangsilog-breakfast-plate_Kumare-Restaurant

Who wants cereal for breakfast when you can try a home-style Filipino breakfast platter! Kumare’s bangsilog combo ($9), which comes with fried boneless milkfish, a fried egg, a heaping portion of garlicky rice, and chopped tomatoes and onion. Bonus: coffee or tea is also included.

Location: 8130 Park Road

4. Fried Diced Lamb at Silkway Halal Cuisine

4_Silkway_Halal_Cuisine_033-670x446

Beware: it’s hard to stop eating this dish of fried diced lamb ($15.95) from this destination for Hui cuisine. It’s basically like popcorn lamb, coated in whole and ground cumin and chili powder, and deep-fried until perfectly crisp. The meat itself stays juicy.

Location: 110-8188 Saba Road

5. Grade “A” Ribeye Beef Teppan Rice at Teppan Kitchen

5_Beef Teppan Rice _ Teppan Kitchen

Teppan Kitchen in Aberdeen Centre’s food court features Japanese iron griddle cooking. The rib eye version comes with slices of beef, corn, green onion, rice and egg ($8.95 with miso soup), which you then mix together until the ingredients are cooked, and your rice is crispy on the bottom. If the dish gives you a hankering for more teppan, visit Pepper Lunch  (150-5951 Number 3 Road), whose first Canadian location took Richmond by storm earlier this year.

Location: Aberdeen Centre, 4151 Hazelbridge Way

6. Turnip Cake at Shanghai Wonderful

6_Shangahi-Wonderful-turnip-cake

At Shanghai Wonderful located in the Best Western Plus Abercorn Inn I adore the turnip cake ($5.95) available for dim sum. An exterior of rich flaky pastry gives way to shredded vinegary radish, chicken and dried pork. It’s a decadent mid-day treat.

Location: Best Western Plus Albercorn Inn, 9260 Bridgeport Road

7. Takoyaki at Richmond Night Markets

7_Takoyaki_night markets

If you are visiting Richmond in night market season, head to one of the two night markets. I enjoy the usual favourites, such as the rotato, deep fried squid, and pan-fried pork buns. Another addictive night market staple is Takoyaki (6 for around $5.75 pictured above). The jumbo Bakudanyaki is the ultimate snack, but not quite as good for sharing. The mini balls come with diced octopus in wheat flour batter, and are topped with Japanese mayo, as well as seaweed and bonito flakes. You can also find scallop and shrimp varieties at the night market if those are more your preference.

Location: The Richmond Night Market is at 3063-8700 McKim Way and Panda Night Market is at 12631 Vulcan Way.

8. Sautéed Black Bean Sole with Pickled Cabbage at Hakkasan Bistro

8_Black bean sole_Hakkasan Bistro

As pretty much the only restaurant in town that serves Hakka Chinese dishes, I have a soft spot in my foodie heart for Hakkasan Bistro. The wok-sautéed fillet of sole in black bean sauce ($10.95 as part of a lunch combo; $22 à la carte) is rustic fare quintessential of Hakka cooking. Red and green peppers, onion, and crunchy, zingy pickled cabbage add flavour and textural contrast to the fish.

Location: Unit 110 – 2188 No. 5 Road

9. The Godzilla Bite at Mega Sushi

9_Godzilla Bite_mega Sushi

The Godzilla Bite ($13.95) at Mega Sushi for its sheer inventiveness and aesthetic wow factor. The creation has chopped scallop, salmon and tuna atop deep-fried seaweed and rice. Tobiko (flying fish roe) and alfalfa sprouts complete the dish. Tempura crunch with whisky is set alight in the centre of the dish for added drama.

Location: 100-3131 Chatham Street

10. I Luv Strawberries at Well Tea

10_I luv Strawberries_well tea

I had to finish the list of with a sweet treat of fancy toast, which I found to be a major foodie trend of 2015. Fortunately, for toast fiends, Richmond boasts many cafes that serve towering Taiwanese thick toast. The I Luv Strawberries ($8.95) at Well Tea is a hollowed out loaf of sweet white bread, toasted and filled with strawberry jam, strawberry ice cream, fresh strawberries, an Oreo cookie, whipped cream and chocolate Pocky.

Location: 170-4811 Hazelbridge Way

As you can see there are lots of amazing dining experiences in Richmond, this is only 10 of the thousands of dishes out there. Plan your trip and create your own top 10 list!