Nine of the province’s leading culinary talents were inducted into the BC Restaurant Hall of Fame this week. Throughout an evening with cocktails and dinner at the Italian Culture Centre, the October 7 gala had many moving moments.
One was chef’s Tony Minichiello’s speech introducing inductee Barb Finley, founder of Project C.H.E.F. Although she was a former student at Northwest Culinary Academy of Vancouver, the Mount Pleasant cooking school Minichiello co-owns, she went on to support him over the years with so much sage advice and friendship. His comments weren’t scripted, making his “I love you” all the more touching.
Another was inductee Susan Mendelson recognizing her 90-year-old mother for flying in for the event to celebrate with her. Mama got a hearty round of applause as Mendelson, owner and cofounder of Lazy Gourmet (now in its 40th year) and industry pioneer, beamed.
But it was inductee Manuel Ferreira’s turn at the microphone that really captured the 500 or so guests’ hearts.
The career restaurateur used to own and operate Le Gavroche and Senova in Vancouver before moving to the Okanagan in 2010, taking his legendary wine collection with him. Under his congenial, expert guidance, Miradoro Restaurant at Tinhorn Creek Vineyards in Oliver has gone on to become not only one of the most beloved restaurants in wine country but also in all of B.C.
At the top of his remarks, Ferreria said there were too many people to thank, including mentors and friends. But he did go on to list seven individual names, then paused.
“All of these people were my dishwashers,” he said. “Without a good dishwasher, you cannot have a good meal.”
Ferreria closed his speech by essentially saying it's an honour for him to serve his guests.
Here's how Ferreira is described on the Miradoro website:
"On any given night you can find Manny in the front of house – seating guests, checking on orders, or getting that extra wineglass for you. He’s just as likely to be recommending the perfect wine to match your meal, as he is to be clearing a table. Look for him: he’s the quiet man with kind eyes, a warm smile, and really nice shoes."
In an industry that's often associated with ego and celebrity, Ferreira's sincere comments made for some of the evening's most memorable.
Ever humble, he was in fine company as a 2019 inductee. Meeru Dhalwala (Vij's and Rangoli), Bruce Fox (Browns Restaurant Group), Ronald St. Pierre (Locals Restaurant), Stephen Cipes (Summerhill Pyramid Winery), and the late Gary Hynes were also all honoured. Hynes's proud son talked about what it was like growing up with a food-loving father who took him to so many restaurants as a kid and who gave many writers and photographers their first shot at being published in EAT magazine. During his 19 years running the publication, his son said, if Hynes came across a restaurant that wasn't at the top of its game, his preference was to bypass covering it rather than trash it, potentially ruining it and people's lives.
Italian Cultural Centre executive chef Jackson Noah’s menu consisted of penne with classic tomato sauce, leafy greens, and Gindara sablefish with pesto risotto, local tomatoes, and seasonal vegetables, while students from Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts prepared cheese and fruit plates.
There was also a surprise appearance by local singer Riley Inge—who used to perform with the Temptations. Besides “O Canada”, the veteran recording artist sang the revered band’s hit “My Girl” with all the soulful style of the original.
More info on the BC Restaurant Hall of Fame is here.