Tonight, we were at VCC attending their annual Flourish Gala, tonight’s team: “green-tie”. This is a night of celebrity chefs, gorgeous food, and fabulous wine all in support of VCC’s future students. It showcases the work of VCC’s highest-achieving students, faculty members and alumni. On top of tasting creations by Vancouver’s leading culinary minds, guests got to experience the best of VCC’s artistic jewelry, manicures, digital design, auto restoration, live music and more. Tickets were $175 and all proceeds went towards supporting VCC student scholarships and awards.
The event was a mix and mingler, where guests were invited to pursue the open foyer in search of food, drink, and activity stations. Each gave attendees the opportunity to engage with the chefs, instructors, students, and vendors that stood behind them. There was a showcase of clothing and apparel with jewelry for purchase by the fashion program. The graphic art students had made cute key chains for sale. And students from the esthetics program were administering hand massages with exfoliates and blended moisturizers.
The Naramata Bench Wineries Association were in attendance, pouring glasses from their various Naramata wineries. Poplar Grove, La Frenz, Four Shadows, and Lang vineyards, to name a few. Ticket holders could visit each stand for a go of white wine, then come back for all their reds. Each guest was designated one wine glass for the night, embossed with the event’s name and self-marked for easy identification. This we would later be able to take home as a keepsake of the evening.
The night was hosted by well-known, local, crowd-favourite host Fred Lee and included a special ancestral welcome and live music throughout the night. The famous Chefs in attendance included Bruno Feldeisen from the Great Canadian Baking Show; Heat Laliberte from One Arrow; Jessica Kruger, the Stubborn Baker; and Tobias MacDonald, a certified master chef.
As for what they prepared, I will not be fully reviewing each of the available small plates that we tried, but will list a few notes along with their descriptions for reference.
The above-mentioned Bruno Feldeisen alongside Chef/Entrepreneur Shelome Bouvette prepared ceviche with self-served bread. Calaco ceviche with albacore tuna, sockeye salmon, pacific ling cod, scallops, prawns, green tigre de leche marinade, fresh orange, and rocoto chilli dusted plantain chips. The chips acted as an edible scoop for all the citrusy and fresh chopped seafood chucks.
Certified Master Chef, Tobias MacDonald and his team prepared one of my top 3 favourite dishes of the night. Chicken galantine with butter sauce, naan, and crunchy BBQ. It ate like an elevated, one bite butter chicken and I loved it, so I had 3.
We saw a team up between Heat Laliberte, celebrity Chef mentioned above and Mark Kearney, the Chef and owner of popular egg-forward, breakfast-focused food truck, Crack On. There were no eggs in sight, but what they had before them was still breakfast ready. Smoked trout, Irish boxty, horseradish creme fraiche, and pickled beets. The crispy potato base was the highlight and definitely a nod to one of my favourite food trucks.
Another of my favourite small plates nights was the one prepared by Ronnie Nugent, VCC Chef Instructor and Assistant. They were offering the most succulent Braised pork belly taco on a scallion pancake with date and black bean sauce, pork floss, spiced peanuts, pickled mustard seed, jalapeño lime cilantro mayo, and a micro herbed salad. Each taco round was well balanced and equipped with plenty of punchy Asian flavours for a great fusion take.
The design students at the Syn The Sis Design booth were offering freshly popped popcorn seasoned with parmesan cheese, truffle salt, and rosemary. Served in a specialty box that was designed to mimic the shape and shade of popcorn. And served from a booth lit with light fixtures that reference the same thought in design.
The Tuna tartare with tomatillo, salsa macha, and Serrano peppers was a tangy to start and spicy to finish spoonful prepared by Shahni Arshad, the Owner and Head Chef of Supper Club YVR.
VCC Chef Instructor Karen Gin and her students were frying up Hashbrown okonomiyaki to order. It had the flavour of the popular Japanese-style pancake with bonito, green onions, tonkatsu sauce, and nori; but over a crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, perfectly formed rectangle of fried potato. This I could have eaten multiples of.
The classic Seared albacore tuna was dressed with smoked squash purée, pickled oyster mushroom, and green apple at the booth helmed by Tret Jordan, Chef VCC Instructor and Culinary Chef.
Chef Leah Patitucci prepared a lovely and light Chilled poached prawn with fennel salad. This made for a refreshing bite in between more rich morsels.
Similarly, the Fish tacos by Jen Peters, the Chef/Founder of The Good and Erin Vickars, Chef, VCC Dept Assistant were a welcomed fresh small plate. Crispy battered and deep-fried white fish with a creamy cabbage slaw on a gluten free tortilla.
VCC Chef Instructor Hamid Salimian prepared the familiar pairing of Smoked salmon and waffles, but dressed it up with a green waffle, bright orange fish roe and a bevy of garnishes he needed a set of long nose tweezers to gingerly put into place.
For a simpler offering of fish, guests could look to the Cured Lois Lake steelhead with seaweed pearls, meyer lemon gel, charred leek creme fraiche, crispy rice, and a tapioca crumble; prepared by Justine Smith, the Executive Chef of Sonora Resort.
Dessert and Nespresso coffee were available on the ground floor and included an adorable smorgasbord courtesy of The Stubborn Baker Jessica Kruger and VCC Baking Instructor Esther Kosa. Here guests could pick up one of two of their S’mores parfaits. Each equipped with a face to look you in the eye as you consumed them. Available in a dark chocolate cremeux with strawberry sauce, marshmallow fluff, and graham cracker or in a milk chocolate cremeux with a passionfruit sauce, burnt honey marshmallow fluff, and graham cracker.
For something a little less sweet they also had a Citrus semolina cake served with vanilla cream, lemon curd, streusel crunch, and fresh raspberries. This one was more in line with my dessert preference of tart and tangy over sweet and creamy.
For architecture and sweets fans there was a replica of the VCC building in a medley of chocolate grade. It was surrounded by bon bons, truffles and ganache that guests could help themselves too. There was even a square that dawned the Community College’s logo in edible print ink.
We also took shots from the local distillery Mad Lab in South Vancouver. Tonight they were pouring drams of their award-winning whiskey, followed by their new maple bacon schnapps infused with bacon grease from Cracked On. The former was a smooth nutty spirit, and the latter drank more like fat on lips, coating the mouth in rich maple essence and salty sweet bacon.
In short this was a great event and a great way to showcase all the skill and talent honed from Vancouver Community College. I am sad that I have only just found out about this event, this year. This is definitely on to look out for next year. Be sure to bookmark and refer to the link below for ticket information and all future VCC events.