The 12th annual EAT! Vancouver Food + Cooking Festival is taking place at B.C. Place Stadium (777 Pacific Boulevard) this weekend. The three-day event brings together local and celebrity chefs, food and beverage vendors, as well as farmers, winemakers, and brewers all under one roof.
I had a chance to check out the festival on Friday (May 30). Here is a what you can expect to see at this year’s EAT! Vancouver.
There are eight featured areas at the festival. The World Culinary Travel Expo offers insight into various ethnic cuisines, including Thai, Spanish, Argentinian, and Indonesian, and information about traveling to different culinary destinations. Many of these exhibitors offer tasting samples of popular dishes and snacks at their booths as well. Nearby this section is the Flavours of the World Stage. Find local chefs, including Curtis Luk from the Parker, Andrew Richardson from CinCin Ristorante + Bar, Jackie Ellis from Beaucoup Bakery, Craig Scherer from Glowbal Group, and James Walt from Whister’s Araxi Restaurant cooking up demonstrating how to cook some of their favourite dishes here.
If you develop an appetite at the festival, drop by the Bites area, which is sponsored by the Georgia Straight. Local restaurants, including Café Kathmandu, Jamaican Pizza Jerk, Max’s Restaurant, Basil Pasta Bar, and Bella Gelateria will all be on hand with bite-sized offerings of popular dishes.
Next to the Bites is the Food Network Celebrity Stage. Watch live 45-minute cooking demonstrations by your favourite Canadian celebrity chefs, including Food Network Canada’s Lynn Crawford and Chuck Hughes, Vancouver’s Iron Chef Rob Feenie, and local stars Vikram Vij and Ned Bell.
Attendees over 19 years of age can gain access to the Sips area, where over two dozen brands of alcoholic beverages are showcased. Taste local craft beer, such as Parallel 49 Brewing Company, as well as popular drinks, like Mott’s Clamato Caesar, in this section.
Returning to the festival this year is the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts, which is hosting hour-long cooking classes taught by the school’s culinary instructors. This year’s selection of classes offered include everything from knife skills and soup-stock basics, to hand-rolled sushi, brunch staples, tapas, and grilling.
I had the chance to take the hand-rolled sushi class while I was at the festival on Friday afternoon. The class is taught by the school’s resident sushi instructor, Katsuhito Inoue, who trained in Osaka, Japan, and began teaching at PICA since 2003.
During the class, chef Inoue taught a group of about a dozen participants how to make three styles of sushi. He discussed how to make proper sushi rice and how to identify good seaweed before demonstrating how to roll the sushi using a bamboo matt. Let’s just say, Inoue made it look much easier to do, although everyone in the class was able to make something resembling sushi. The best part was being able to eat our creations at the end of the class.
In addition to the featured areas of the festival, there are many exhibitors showcasing their food and cooking brands. A quick stroll through the area, and I saw vegan Daiya cheese, YEW Restaurant + Bar chef Ned Bell’s canned wild albacore tuna, Tea Sparrow teas, artisanal snacks from Hawkers Market, sweet treats from Checkers Premium Fudge, macarons from Kitchening & Co., and more.
The EAT! Vancouver Food + Cooking Festival continues today (May 31) from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday (June 1) from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets are $9 to $15 and can be purchased online in advance or at the door.