When the Games kick into high gear Chef Andrew George expects to feed about 3,500 people per day.
He’ll offer them dishes like juniper duck, wild rice pilaf, Muskox prosciutto, buffalo burgers served with bannock – fusion foods inspired by Canadian aboriginal cuisine.
He even toyed with naming one dish “VANOC bannock,” but decided against it.
As the head chef at the aboriginal pavilion downtown Vancouver, George will oversee the kitchens at the pavilion and at the 2010 celebration site in Surrey.
His challenge was to “represent as many nations across canada as we could.” George visited remote villages, asking elders about their harvesting, hunting and preserving traditions.
“It’s all based on our traditional foods,” said George of a menu that draws on his training as a Red Seal chef and a culinary ambassador to Europe with Aboriginal Tourism Canada.
Highlights include maple-glazed salmon, wild boar pate, the West Coast seafood feast – smoked halibut with salmon, oysters and claims in a bouillabaisse. One of his top picks, the Spirit Braid, takes cold smoked sockeye salmon folded together and broiled with halibut and arctic char, served with a Zambuca glaze.
The author of two books – Feast: Canadian Native Cuisine for All Seasons (Doubleday, 1999) and a forthcoming title – George has trained chefs across the country.
Most recently he works at Surrey’s Kla-how-eya Aboriginal Centre preparing young cooks for the culinary program at Vancouver Community College.
“That’s my excitement here, the new wave of chefs coming up,” said George, who worked as a head cook at Expo ’86 and showcased Canadian aboriginal cuisine at a 1992 world competition in Frankfurt. “That process changed my life. All these events changed my life.”
Things will be busy when the world comes to Vancouver, he says. He expects to serve 250 per day at the downtown lounge, not to mention 3,000 each day in Surrey.
But when things get busy, he pulls out a longstanding joke: “Don’t panic, there’s lots of bannock,” he laughs.
For more information about the Aboriginal Pavilion, visit www.fourhostfirstnations.com.
Arsenal Pulp Press will carry George’s first book, coauthored with Robert Gairns, in September 2010.