Chefs on the move: Stefan Hartmann, Jonathan Chovancek take on new, noteworthy roles in hot Vancouver restaurants

Hartmann joins Tacofino; Chovancek does Italian at Cibo

    1 of 2 2 of 2

      Chefs change restaurants all the time, but a couple of recent moves stand out.

      For starters, Stefan Hartmann, who opened Bauhaus Restaurant and who is the only chef working in Canada to have earned his own Michelin star (at the restaurant he ran in Berlin), has joined Tacofino as its regional executive chef.

      His last day at Bauhaus is on Saturday (April 22).

      It’s a coup for the Baja-inspired taco shop that started out of (and still operates in) a school bus parked at the back of the Live to Surf lot just outside of Tofino’s core. It now has a fleet of food trucks as well as four restaurants in Vancouver and Victoria and likely more to come. Hartmann will oversee menu development and mentor up-and-coming cooks.

      “Stefan’s reputation as a world-class chef precedes him and we’re stoked to welcome him to our ever-growing Tacofino family,” Jason Sussman, who cofounded Tacofino with Kaeli Robinsong, said in a release. “We look forward to bringing Stefan on board and know that he’ll bring a great energy to the team to not only develop new menu items, but also to inspire the rising stars in our kitchens.”

      Hartmann said in the release that the plan at Tacofino isn’t to reinvent the wheel but rather to maintain what people love about its food while adding a few new flavours and dishes.

      It’ll be fascinating to see--and taste--how the new relationship pans out. 

      Although Hartmann’s departure is a major loss for Bauhaus, owner Uwe Boll has brought in some top talent to take over.

      Tim Schulte is also from Germany, where he has spent the last 11 years working in restaurants and where he was awarded Best Chef of the Year in 2013. He worked with Hartmann at his new workplace for a brief stint before spending time in Australia.

      He will take on the role of co-executive chef alongside David Mueller, who has been at Bauhaus for the past 18 months alongside chef Hartman. Born in British Columbia, Mueller got his start working under the guidance of Food Network chef Michael Lyons.

      “I want every guest that comes to Bauhaus to feel welcome, like a friend that I have invited into my home for dinner,” Mueller said in a statement. “I truly believe that cooking is an art form that is appreciated best when all five senses are balanced. My goal is that each guest who dines here experiences something that they have never experienced before, through texture, taste or technique." 

      Boll stated he’s excited to have Schulte and Mueller onboard, describing them as “young, creative and exceptionally talented chefs”.

      Meanwhile, Cibo Trattoria and Uva Wine Bar have a new team that’s revitalizing the two venues with fresh, approachable food and wine menus.

      Mark Taylor, general manager and wine director, has helmed several award-winning spots, including Raincity Grill, Cru, and Siena. He’s on the winery selection committee for the Vancouver International Wine Festival and sits on the board of directors for the Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers (B.C. chapter); look for accessible wine-pairing dinners to be on offer.

      Executive chef Jonathan Chovancek runs Bittered Sling with his partner, Lauren Mote, and used to be exec chef at Café Medina, in addition to holding several other key roles at local kitchens. At Cibo, he’s prioritizing rustic Italian recipes with local, seasonal ingredients that will showcase the best of B.C.  

      Among the highlights on executive chef Jonathan Chovancek's menu at Cibo Trattoria is Haida Gwaii lingcod.
      Gail Johnson

      Prices for antipasti range from $4 to $16 (albacore tuna crudo), while primi plates run from $16 to $21 (ricotta gnocchetti with braised oxtail, grilled mushrooms, San Marzano tomatoes). Mains range from $24 to $32 (Trutch Sound halibut with buttermilk polenta and grilled asparagus).

      The three-course Orpheum Tasting Menu, $36 per person, includes red-lentil-spice-crusted Haida Gwaii lingcod with romanesco pickled fennel, pancetta and chickpea brodo.