2021 saw the world attempt to reclaim its normalcy, amidst a world wide pandemic that continues to ravage and evolve. And in this world that needs kindness and care and the understanding of one human towards another, it was warming to see the return of one of Vancouver’s most beloved charitable fundraisers: Passions, in support of the Dr. Peter Centre.
Organized and blossomed under the warm embrace of one of Vancouver’s veteran food writers and connoisseurs: that late Nathan Fong. The reprisal of Passions was not only for those who depended on the support from the Dr. Peter Centre, but it became a way to memorialize and remember Nathan Fong, as well.
As taken and best said from their website: “Dr. Peter’s Centre provides comprehensive, stigma-free care for those who need it the most. Today, an estimated 7,271 British Columbians live with HIV/AIDS, and while many people have supports in place to help them cope, many more do not. This all-encompassing affliction drains the mind, body and soul. Add a history of mental illness, substance use disorder, lack of shelter – and life gets even worse. The Dr. Peter Centre tackles this situation with its outstanding clinical care delivered daily with a stigma-free approach since 1997. Today, the Centre has emerged as one the world’s most recognized care facilities for HIV/AIDS, sharing its best practices with agencies and governments across the country, and around the globe.”
Passions is the yearly gala that gathers the city’s best bartenders and chefs under one roof to help raise the funds necessary for the compassionate cause above. The following is a recap of the evening, and how you can attend next year’s soirée, and donate in the meanwhile.
Tonight’s venue was at the The Roundhouse Community Arts & Recreation Centre Exhibition Hall, downtown Vancouver. Tickets sold at $250 for general admission, and $300 for VIP entry. The latter of which included an hour earlier admission and access to premium liquor. Ticket sales go directly to the cause, where $50 pays for 10 meals, and a better future for those living with HIV/AIDS.
The night is a self serve affair with stations scattered around the perimeter of the room. All guests have to freedom to visit each station as they choose, as many times as they choose. As this was the first gala (large gathering) I have been to since the onset of Covid, I am happy to announce how respectful the organizers were. Checking for vaccination records and IDs, reminding guests to adhere to indoor masks policies; and offering a way for those who want to communicate their safety concerns, without actually communicating it. The red, yellow, and green wrist band system was an effective way to show one another our personal boundaries.
As for the festivities: a live band and tap dancers kept the space lively. And drag queens and drag performers kept it jovial.
Truth be told the setting wasn’t as lavish as year’s past, but with the need to distance and have plexiglass separators, event organizers did a tremendous job in helping to set the tone of each booth for the restaurant personnel who stood behind it. The following were said restaurants.
For drinks Sabrine Dhaliwal of Chickadee Room was on site mixing her signature cocktail for the event. This is the tropical Better Together with Volcan Di Mi Tierra Blanco tequila, Licor 43, orange and lime juice, grapefruit and hops bitters, and ginger beer.
Another of the night’s signature cocktails was prepared by Trevor Kallies, representing the Donnelly Group. His sharp Modern Martini was a mix of Bombay Sapphire Gin, Noilly Pratt Vermouth, St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur, Tio Pepe Fine Sherry, and lemon zest.
There was also plenty of wine to be poured in your choice of white or red across several labels like Cannonball, Alive organic wine, and Bench 1775.
And for those not looking for liquor, there was a help yourself cart of crushed ice and cans of Kombucha by Bucha Brew, as well as water by San Pellegrino available.
For food, the following in the order that we tried it all, starting with the farm to table restaurant: Forage. They had prepared a BC kelp cured albacore tuna served with compressed apple, foraged chilli oil, and duck crackling.
From Capo & The Spritz we had a county style pork and chicken terrine paired with a confit garlic aioli, and pickled giardinera vegetables.
The D.I.C.E.D Culinary Centre prepared a one bite Gindara sablefish taco, served with fermented chilli, an herbed slaw, and a ginger soy vinaigrette.
The team at Oddfish were passing out their halibut ceviche in leche de tigre, with a sweet potato crisp that double dutied as a scoop.
Juke Fried Chicken found a different way to do their chicken tonight. Stuffed wings with a sesame glaze topped with crispy chilli bits.
Provence Marinaside took advantage of the season with their wild mushroom and foie gras vol-au-vent with micro mache.
The acclaimed Joe Fortes Seafood and Chop House was showcasing their seafood prowess by way of an albacore tuna crudo with caper aioli, a tomato confit, and micro arugula.
The team at Fanny Bay Oysters were shucking their sweet sun seeker oysters on site. You gather up your desired mollusk in shell, and to it top with either their garlic mignonette, fresh lemon, and/or a habanero hot sauce. Or all of the above, as it did. I am happy to say we snagged their last two oysters of the night, by the event’s end.
At the Cantina Norte booth they prepared carnitas de pato tostada for a gluten-free and dairy-free option. Fraser Valley duck carnitas, habanero aioli, pickled onions, and fresh cilantro over a house made corn tortilla.
And last, but not least: one of the most memorable small bites belonged to the team at Pacific Yacht Charters. They prepared a prawn aguachile, and I have never had raw prawn like this before. Served traditionally with a cucumber and cilantro sauce, and garnished with grilled jalapeño, lime marinated onions, and a toasted flour tortilla.
For dessert La Glacé had their ice cream cart keeping cool small cups of their French style ice cream. They had listed flavours like pandan coconut, pumpkin pie, and rum raisin (highly recommend the latter) and off the menu options like their coffee toffee.
Amongst all the eating and light mingling guests were invited to purchase their 50/50 tickets for a draw at the end of the night. Or donate by bidding on one of the many unique items and gift baskets donated for the cause. Prizes the likes of outdoor gear, coffee and wine lovers sets, modern artwork, and overnight stays at getaway destinations.
But the featured event was the bidding to be done with paddles and cards, as the resident auctioneer riled up the crowd into out bidding one another, and increasing the funds collected for the Dr. Peter Centre.
Overall, this was a truly amazing night that allowed guests to grab some semblance of their lives before Covid. All as we ate, drank, and spoke merry for a well worthy cause.
If you missed out on the festivities this year, be sure to follow the @drpetercentre on Instagram for updates and upcoming events. And make any donations in the meanwhile, by clicking on the link below.