This past week marked the 16th annual “Passions” fundraiser. A night where local chefs and philanthropists come together to raise much needed funds for the Dr. Peter Aids Foundation. Through such efforts they are able to supply nutritious and much needed food for those in our community suffering from HIV/AIDS, mental illness, housing insecurity, and various substance use disorders. Each year they prepare approximately 96,000 meals for approximately 500 people. Everyone enrolled in the program has access to quality food twice a day. Enough to ensure that they meet their daily nutrient requirements, which is critical in helping with all or any “hefty medication regime”. The result, a program that boasts the best food for any social service program, anywhere. Through all their sponsors and all the donations, 100% of the funds raised went directly to the the foundation, which was a record-breaking $220,000 plus!

The night featured many of Vancouver’s best chefs and mixologists, living up to its reputation as “Vancouver’s best small food & wine gala”. The following is a recap of the night, as I ate and drank my way though all the offerings, and contributed to the good cause myself.

Held at “Performance Works” on Granville Island, the space was expanded and set up to host over 20 restaurants as individual tables, with stations to cook and assemble their small bites. As VIPs we were given earlier access to the event. An hour more to take in the food without crowds, and an hour more to drink; starting with a welcome glass of sparkling.

For the recap of the night through video, check out my latest vlog, now up on my YouTube channel: MaggiMei.

The following are the chefs and the restaurants they represent, as I ate through it all. To be honest with all the mingling and sampling, I didn’t get a chance to fully taste, critique, and take notes; so will only offer descriptions of what I can recall and that which stood out. But over all, there wasn’t anything I didn’t like, it was all dynamic, creative, and easy to eat as finger food.

Chef Richard Valverde was here representing “Ancora”. He brought with him an interactive “Manila clam ceviche shooter”. Made with aji amarillo leche de Tigre, and crispy quinoa. You stir it up, lick the rim, and take the fulsome contents down the throat in one go. Served cold, it was spiced well with citrus zest, and chewy with seafood.

Chef Hidekazu Tojo himself was on site, and as charming as ever. He remixed sushi with a duo of “smoked sablefish temari” and “geoduck gunkan”. No seaweed, but thinly sliced squash and cucumber used as a wrap with sushi rice instead. He called it “healthy”.

Chef Andrew Richardson from “Cin Cin” served up a vegetarian option in their “golden and chioggia beet salad” with whipped ricotta, smoked orange vinaigrette and pistachios. Fresh beets, salty cheese, crunchy nuts, and a light citrus dressing to bring it all together.

Chef Eva Chin from “Blvd” had “melon gazpacho” with lemon verbena, and variations of melon and fennel; served in little plastic cups with little plastic spoons. A cool, thinner soup, with a refreshing finish.

From “Copper Chimney” Chef Valentino Pereira had “quinoa chaat bites” with an avocado tamarind mousse. A crispy fried shell hiding a creamed centre, with additional crunch from the bed of puffed rice.

Chef Lee Cooper from “L’Abattoir” had a lovely “smoked duck breast” with beetroot and preserved blueberries. It was well balanced with fatty salty meat and sweet fruit.

“West’s” Bobby Milheron had a “geoduck tostada” topped with pickled Fresno chilli, green romesco, and cilantro. A crispy lime-forward snack to crunch on.

Chef Subir Ghosh from “Arc” had “pork rilletes” with fermentation vegetables and black mustard. A crusty crostini spread over generously with a chunk meat paste for a sour, tangy, and peppery two bites.

Chef Welbert Choi of “Forage” was serving up perfectly rounded “bison short rib arancini” balls in a chanterelle mushroom cream with rutabaga. A crispy fried battered ball of tender meat, fully flavoured with the distinct flavour of the chanterelle. Delicious.

Soon to open North Vancouver Restaurant, “Cantina Norte” was making their “Passions” debut with a fresh seafood ceviche from their chef, Jeremy Mitchell. Fresh shrimp, scallops, and white fish in citrus and aromatic herbs. Served on a flour tortilla chip with a spicy avocado mousse. This was my favourite ceviche interpretation of the night. The harder base made the seafood lighter and chewier for a nice contrast, and the spicy avocado mousse finished it off wonderfully.

“The Observatory” at Grouse Mountain had Chef Jack Chen on site offering up a “Chicken terrine” with cured egg yolk and a buttermilk sauce. A little dry, but very tasty with the yolk and peppery sauce.

A “Passions” regular Jean-Francis Quaglia was here representing his restaurant, “Provence”, with a “duck confit ballottine” and pickled BC cherries. The salty duck and sweet cherry were a great contrasting coupling, I just wanted something doughy to go with it.

I really liked the meaty canapé from “Notch8’s” Chef Dennis Peckham”. A “dry aged tataki” dressed with black pepper ponzu, spiced peanut, furikake, and shisho. Meat, bread, cream, and greens gathered together for a balanced bite.

“Market by Jean-Georges” has Chef Ken Nakano on location with “soy braised wagyu beef cheeks. Served on an airy fried prawn cracker, with a sweet and only slightly spicy Asian pear kimchi. Another meaty canapé I enjoyed, especially the prawn cracker that takes me back to my childhood.

Chef Marty Ra of “Pacific Yacht Charters” offered a hearty “Cambodian lemon chicken terrine” with a coconut lime foam, puffed rice, and cilantro. A little on the dense side, but tropical in flavour and fun in textural combinations.

“Honey Salt’s” Chef Jason Harper had a playful presentation for his “duck yolk gel”. It is best a mini cone to bite into, rather than lick from. Topped with orange segment, chive shallot, and a foie gras mousse it was salty and meaty, and the cone offered a neutral base.

“Joe Fortes’” Wayne Sych had a simple yet elegant plate of “smoked sablefish” served with a sweet potato hummus as a sauce, and pita crisps as a base. Wonderfully crafted, with great flavours and textures that went well together.

Chef Chris Andraza from “Fanny Bay Oysters” prepared a “smoked scallop ceviche” seasoned with chilli and citrus, served with a chunk salsa and pita chip strips for crunch.

“Minami” had Chef Alan Ferrer toasting up “aburi salmon oshi sushi” on the spot. Pressed wild sockeye salmon, jalapeño, and their trademark mayo-based Miku sauce. A menu staple and one I came back for, for seconds. Each piece also came with “Albacore tuna and kaiso seaweed tartare”. Beautifully prepared, but a little bland by comparison. Even with the spicy ponzu vinaigrette, wasabi creme fraiche, and a sesame wonton crisp.

Pastry Chef Betty Hung from “Beaucoup Bakery” had the only dessert of the evening: a “Plum and mascarpone verrinne” with a spiced plum compote, mascarpone mousse, and a hazelnut sable. It was a lighter offering, not too sweet or too dense. A great palette refresher and a nice end to all the food before it. Tasty with refreshing fruit and a salty cream to lap up with syrupy compote. It was best with the cookie garnish, I would have liked more of that crumbled up as a base.

As for drinks Katie Ingram of “Elisa” was here mixing her custom cocktail, “Boy in Berlin” featuring Ungava gin, white port, lemon, Riesling cordial, ginger beer, Bitter Sling orange and juniper bitters. It was pretty over ice, with a dried lime wheel and a rose bud.

“Bearface whiskey” was representing with the “Chicha Mule” featuring their whiskey with ginger beer and lime. A simply delicious mule.

The “1181 Cosmo” was named after the bar on Davie with of the same name. Vodka, Cointreau, cranberry, and lime; a strong drink with plenty of kick.

As we mixed and mingled, ate and drank, we heard from the fundraiser’s chair, and Dr. Peter’s mother. We heard the good our contributions did, and were encouraged to help further with additional donations and bids during the live auction.

Shirtless men sold raffle tickets to prize winning draws. The silent auctions were easy to bid on with iPads at every table, and an app to track whether you still held your bid.

But the main event was the live auction, offering up chases to win grand prizes and experiences like a sushi rolling class with Tojo, an island getaway, a giant bucket of pickles, and a multi course dinner prepared by and served by a team of handsome firefighters. All of the prizes above were donated in full, so for all the money they raised, 100% went to the “Dr. Peters” aids Foundation. I was happy to do my part, winning my silent auction bid: a night out to the ballet with an executive hotel stay.

In conclusion “Passions” is everything it promised to be, and more. A great night, serving a wonderful cause, rubbing shoulders with talented chefs and the city’s finest philanthropist. For more details, and how you can contribute to “Dr. Peters’s” cause, visit the link below.

1110 Comox Street, Vancouver BC, V6E 1K5 604-608-1874
Facebook: DrPeterAIDSFoundation
Twitter: @drpeterAIDSfdn
Instagram: @drpetercentre