Home and family basis for new recipes
Chef inspired by casual trend
Known internationally for his innovative approach to preparing fine food, Vancouver chef Rob Feenie has turned his considerable talents to dishes that reflect a growing trend toward casual dining.
“I think casual dining is an evolution and is part of the whole dining scene that is going on in Canada,” says the former owner of two restaurants in his native city who in 2008 became executive chef of Cactus Club Cafe, a chain of restaurants in Western Canada.
He has produced three cookbooks, starred in New Classics with Chef Rob Feenie on Food Network Canada and in 2005 was the first Canadian to win on the television show Iron Chef America by defeating chef Masaharu Morimoto.
The 47-year-old Feenie is married with three children and this has also been a huge influence on his views toward home and approachable food preparation.
Nothing is more evident of his affection for family life than his latest cookbook, Rob Feenie’s Casual Classics: Everyday Recipes for Family and Friends (Douglas & McIntyre, $29.95, paperback).
“Our kids like to cook with me,” he says proudly, “and now I have my weekends free I spend a lot of time cooking at home with them.”
To emphasize this closeness of family, the book has photos of Feenie, his wife Michelle and children Devon, Jordan and Brooklyn.
“Eventually I will teach the kids some skills and safety tips, but they are more hands on when we make pancakes from scratch,” their father says, “Right now they want to put the ingredients in the bowl and mix, so we let them do that.”
He believes the casual dining scene is a reflection of the fact more people are becoming aware of fresh produce as more farmers markets are popping up.
“We are seeing this real wave of emotion and attachment to food in this country,” he adds.
Feenie has fond memories of his childhood when Sunday dinner was family night and now he prepares something special for his kin.
“Having the kids involved in eating at home together with parents, grandparents and other family members is really important to us,” he says.
If getting the kids to eat broccoli is a chore, Feenie includes this recipe in the book. It is one of his children’s favourites.
Chef Rob Feenie will be in Eat! Fraser Valley.
Vancouver chef Rob Feenie’s Casual Classics cookbook focuses more on casual dining.