Breakout Chef: Jorge Tuane of Dear Gus brings emotion to and memory to his food

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      The Breakouts are presented in partnership with Kwantlen Polytechnic University.

      Jorge Tuane still remembers the first time he saw someone eat a hard-boiled egg. He was just a small boy in daycare, and his teacher pulled one out to eat as a snack.

      “I felt like I was witnessing some sort of magic,” he recalls. “I just remember seeing that egg being cracked on the table. I couldn’t believe it—it held its shape.”

      For Tuane (and, indeed, for many of us), food memories are some of his most vivid. It might help explain why there is such an emotional quality to his cooking.

      As head chef of Dear Gus Snack Bar, which opened in December 2023 in Mount Pleasant, Tuane is showing the city his vision for good food, and it’s a beautifully simple one: dishes that are well executed, bold in flavour but simple in presentation, and, above all, memorable. Think: mussels and ’nduja sausage in a saffron tomato broth that you will have to try very hard not to slurp up at the end, paired with housemade bread that you’ll be dreaming about for days (a recipe that Tuane spent a year perfecting). Or puffy ricotta gnocchi with garlic confit, wild mushrooms, and lemon—zesty, comforting, a perfect blend of acid and fat. Or the only dessert on the menu: a heavenly carrot cake with browned butter cream cheese icing and walnuts. So simple, so pure.

      Almost instantly, the small, bright, cozy restaurant—the brainchild of owner Rachel Lee—was sporting a nightly waitlist of three to four hours.

      “I didn’t really anticipate that high volume; in an 18-, 20-seater restaurant, we’re doing three to four turnovers a night,” says Tuane, a former lawyer who moved from Chile to Vancouver in 2016 to pursue cooking. He credits his time working in the kitchen at Michelin-Starred AnnaLena on West 1st with teaching him the skills to run his own kitchen—which he does as a one-man show behind the impressively small Dear Gus bar.

      “I just wanted to have a cute little restaurant,” Tuane muses. “I never thought this was going to create so much noise, to be honest. I’m still in shock. I got humbled.”