Craft beer cheesecake: Metro Vancouver's Taps and Tacos' exec chef gets creative with local ingredients

Jordan Braun just has to stroll down the street to Port Moody's brewery district for the beers he uses in his cooking

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      Ever since joining Taps and Tacos as executive chef, Jordan Braun has introduced several new items to the menu, like a beef barbacoa taco and bay scallop ceviche. More on those later.

      Formerly of Nightingale, Chambar, and Cactus Club, Braun has also made the most of the restaurant’s location in Port Moody’s brewery district and people’s love of craft brews with a unique dessert: local craft-beer cheesecake.

      Flavours change, with his first creation earlier this year consisting of Twin Sails’ Con Leche, a Horchata-style milk stout. Braun topped the smooth cake with salted almonds and whipped cream, and it proved to be instantly and insanely popular.

      These days, Twin Sails’ Dat Juice Citra pale ale stars in the jar dessert. All grapefruit-y and pineapple-y, it’s is garnished with candied lemon and orange peel.

      Braun experiments in fun and clever ways across the full menu.

      In addition to barbacoa beef, other types of tacos at Taps and Tacos include Tangier chicken and vegan barbecued jackfruit.
      Gail Johnson.

      That barbacoa taco, for instance, consists of chili-and-citrus-braised beef cheek and mezcal-spiked salsa borracha.

      His Korean gochujang-braised pork taco comes with a slaw of sesame, cucumbers, and pickled carrot; a Tangier braised-chicken taco is studded with spiced almonds and poached raisins.

      The through line is the use of premium ingredients from local suppliers: think chicken from Rossdown Farm and Natural Foods, meat from 63 Acres Beef, produce from Surrey’s Zaklan Heritage Farm, and the like. The seafood on the menu is Ocean Wise.  

      Now living in Langley, Braun developed his love of fresh food and cooking as a child.

      Jordan Braun's grandparents fostered his love of growing food and cooking.
      Gail Johnson.

      “It’s a pretty classic story of growing up in a household of great chefs, especially my oma,” Braun says in an interview at the two-level industrial-styled restaurant, speaking of his Austrian grandmother. “They had a quarter-acre lot that they turned into a garden. My opa was out in the garden every day, and my oma cooked. They had fruit trees—plums and pears—and vegetables: potatoes, all kinds of peppers, herbs, cucumber, zucchini, beets... They cooked everything you could think of from their own garden.

      “From a young age, I was helping out in the kitchen, doing things like kneading dough,” he says. “Me and my oma are very close, so it just seemed natural for me to be in the kitchen.”

      After a detour to university where he studied poli sci and later spent some time dabbling in local politics, Braun realized an office job wasn’t for him. The kitchen called him back.

      The first well-established restaurant he worked in was Cactus Club, which he credits for providing an excellent training ground and where he “learned how to work a line”. At Chambar, he learned how to put out high-quality plates even during intense rushes from concerts and hockey games.  

      Then it was off to Nightingale, under the guidance of executive chef Phil Scarfone, a recent Top Chef Canada finalist.

      “Phil is amazing,” Braun says. “He was committed to growing his staff but always kept a calm head under pressure. It was a very positive, growing environment.

      “And their menu is all farm to table, local stuff, letting ingredients shine through,” he adds. “That really spoke to me.”

      Taps and Tacos is in Port Moody's brewery district.
      Gail Johnson.

      Braun is excited about what’s ahead for Taps and Tacos (91 Moody Street), though he can only divulge so much. The company recently rolled out a food truck, and there’s talk of forthcoming locations and new concepts.

      For now, he plans on further expanding the menu, perhaps with a tongue-and-mole taco, house-made tortillas, different types of ceviche—and probably a few more kinds of beer cheesecake.

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