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VCC Flourish 2024

Flourish is VCC’s annual green tie gala (think a black tie affair, but make it green) is back for another year. This is their flagship food and wine fundraiser, and this year they are raising funds for virtual reality equipment.

“The need for virtual reality equipment and technology is to increase opportunities for students to receive practical hands-on training,” says Moira Gookstetter, Executive Director of VCC Foundation. “The continued support from our sponsors such as RBC, PCI and Lowtide Development, Naramata Bench Winery Association and our local wineries and chefs, who have generously donated their time and resources to make this event a success, is truly remarkable.” (As taken from the event’s press release).

As guests tonight we got a first hand look at the innovative technology needed to enhance the student learning experience. This included 4D scans of a human skeleton and autonomy for easier studying. And by dawning the Oculus Quest goggles and gloves we were able to virtually prepare a custard dessert.

This is a stand-up event that has guests roaming around three floors of VCC’s newest building. Here, on top of 15 gourmet food sampling stations and plenty of wines, there were also exhibits set up from VCC’s other facilities including Fashion, Jewelry, Automotive, and Science.

We began by grabbing our tasting glass, a branded wine glass that we would use throughout the night, then take home as a memento. All the wines being sampled were from the Naramata Bench region of B.C.

Wineries participating included Hillside, Polar Grove, Four Shadows, Upper Bench, Deep Roots, Three Sisters, Tightrope, and Wesbert Winery. There was even beers from local breweries and a pick-me-up of Nespresso martinis.

And for those looking for something lighter, Victoria Island’s Seaside Cidery was sampling their rescued apple ciders.

We would sample from each, pairing whites with seafood and red with meats. There were also a couple of vegan dishes for those looking for plant-based options.

The following are all the bites from returning VCC alumni chefs and faculty, each chef assisted by VCC Culinary Arts students, providing an opportunity for the apprentices to bolster their educational experience.

In the order which we tried everything.

Chef Shahni Arshad from Supper Club YVR was giving away chances to win a free catered dinner along side sampling his Mussel escabeche with vinaigrette and potato crisp, set in a display of smoking ice. These were a zesty firm muscle easily washed down with citrus. Thankfully the event allows for seconds and thirds because this one bears repeating.

My favourite bite of the night came from Damon Campbell of Fairmont Pacific Rim. He and his team were offering a picturesque Charred Nova Scotia scallop crudo with radish, chilli, lemon balm, and sea buckthorn broth. There were so many flavourful and so many textures to go through. Crispy, crunchy, juicy, and gummy. A dish that kept you going back for more bit after bite.

From VCC Faculty we had Hamid Salimian offering a unique plate. A Puffed parmesan chip topped with bell peppers, olive purée, basil, and shaved parmesan. Messy and fun to eat, like biting into a cloud with Parmesan snow, flavoured like a pizza.

Another group favourite was the Shrimp Toast by VCC Faculty Karen Gin. A juicy shrimp patty between crispy white bread toast, dipped into a caviar tartar sauce. A tasty snack that was both comforting and satisfying.

Tret Jordan of Truffles Fine Foods had A Spiced duck with turnip agrodulce, and black truffle. Tender roast duck meat well balanced by a slaw of pickled vegetable and heavy cream.

From Sodexo Live! and the Vancouver Convention Centre Chef Kishore Rangan and his team were preparing plates of Slow braised beef cheek atop of a winter truffle mash with champagne cabbage and pickled Pemberton beets, in a pan reduction. This was such a stunning plate with the leaf tuile crowning it. Sadly the beef was tough to saw through, but had it been as tender as anticipated, it would have well matched the sea of soft purée potato.

From VCC Faculty, Tobias MacDonald and his team came two types of bite sized tacos. A beef flank taco with bacon, vegan cheese, shallots, and tomato. And/or the vegan option of a black trumpet mushroom in place of the meat. This was a juicy taco of tender beef and fresh vegetable over a flavourful corn taco shell. A tasty morsel in both beef or mushroom.

The only other vegan option was from Heat Laliberte of the Vancouver’s Aboriginal Friendship Centre. This was a lovely smoke carrot salad that gave us smoked salmon energy amongst crispy and fresh elements.

From Showcase Restaurant + Bar at Marriott Pinnacle Downtown Vancouver Chef Edison Antejos and Anna Yeh prepared A Kombu cured albacore tuna tataki with nori dust, ginger arancini, and bonito aioli. This was soft and fragrant tuna on top of a crispy breaded and fried risotto. One of the more filling plates that the night offered.

VCC Faculty Giulia Nardiello and Ronnie Nugent prepared Duck breast with rice cracker, hoisin sauce, shallots, cucumbers, and orange glaze. This was a sweeter duck thanks to the caramel-like coating, placed on a crisp cracker base for easy eating. Its tougher meat was some what tempered by the soft pickled vegetables.

And there was even more dessert from VCC Faculty Leanne Bentley and Esther Kosa, preparing a small dessert buffet of assorted French macarons, madelines, and financiers.

And they didn’t stop there, their star feature was a 67% chocolate ganache cake with Bailey’s anglaise and a cocoa nib crunch.

And last, but not least: Wildlight Kitchen + Bar Chef Citlalli Mendez Cedillo and Camille Sauvagnac were presenting a cake of Crispy meringue, coconut cream, powder raspberry, white chocolate, and raspberries gelle to finish off the night light.

In addition to all the delightful and refined tasting plates, this evening also showcased the diverse programs that VCC offers. Live music on stage performed by leading industry VCC alumni. VCC Culinary and Automotive virtual reality demonstrations through a driving simulation and the ability to cook in a kitchen virtually.

There were also art, fashion, and jewelry design showcases that you could shop from.

And VCC’s University Transfer Science department had microscopes and plants Indigenous to China Creek for guests to view.

We even got to hold and play with leaf bugs.

In short, Flourish was such a great way to get a look at what VCC offers, while raising much needed funds to support its advanced teaching methods.

Be sure to bookmark this post and refer to the link below for ticket information and all future VCC events, plus how you can donate


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