• [C]hronicled. | JOHNNY BRIDGE

     … A Leviathan’s Lullaby & A Heart Buried at Sea

    Curator & Writer | Hakan Burcuoğlu · Venue | Thormanby Island · Gear | Leica

    The boat rocks on seething, cerulean seas as he scuttles bow-side, silhouetted. It’s forceful shadow play, heuristics by hatchet, a ceremonious prelude—the reason I’m here. But I’m dazed—weak at the knees—inundated by roaring winds, and the inescapable sounds of guttural sea lions that burrow into my plexus. Disenfranchised, I close my eyes to elude this constance—these forces of nature, this bearded, subsumed energumen. But suddenly, he amplifies his histrionics, gesticulating to fish and fowl—euphoric. “Eureka!” he bellows, hunched over starboard, delivering a cohort of oysters back to their provenance on a raging inferno of crackling coals. My mind’s flooded. And this ark is my rapture. But who better to save me, than Noah incarnate.

    I’m not one for sacrosanct—and perhaps exaggerate for effect—but find it near impossible to refrain from allegory in encapsulating Johnny’s remarkable life story. With humanity blemished in every which way, it’d be easy to mistake his positivity—and clamour—for pandering nostrums. But now that I’ve seen the light, I understand his story to be as much nativist, as nurturist. There’s no room for “versus” in this debate, and no heart of darkness he’d wish to spare. He’s of this land, as much Leviathan as he is mad pirate, and we’re all here, watching in awe, bearing witness to his belle époque.

    But let’s not let this rapturous renaissance inflect years of brutal brawn. As is with the vast majority of professionals working in in high-pressured kitchens, Johnny, too, has taken his licks. What renders him singular [having worked in over 55 restaurants] is that he’s remained utterly unscathed, having garnered enough intelligence, and resilience, to belabour any powder keg. So thank you, Mr. Bridge, for allowing us into your domain, and for showing a cynical city slicker the true meaning of adventure. I’ve buried my heart at sea, and you know I’ll be back for more.

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  • Chef’Stock | Island Living

     … serenity now.

    Curator & Writer | Hakan Burcuoğlu · Venue | Bodega Ridge · Gear | Leica

    Call me enfant terrible, for I have sinned—veering off the beaten path, into the wilderness, navigating the cold waters and meandering roads of British Columbia’s Gulf Islands—in particular the Island of Galiano. I’m partial to cement, cynics and suicidal cab drivers—bonafide urbanite—so it’s always been challenging, if not an utter botheration, to wholeheartedly embrace the serenity of a supposed, idyllic, wonderland. But here I lay, sunken into a chesterfield, penning a dispatch from yonder, my keyboard strokes deafened by ribitting, virile frogs. I’ve long deserved my comeuppance, and this, my friends, became my Falstaffian deliverance.

    On promised land I stand—Galiano’s pride and joy, the infamous Bodega Ridge—lingering like a peeping Tom, inside a modest country kitchen housing so much talent, we were lucky the roof didn’t blow. What ever happened to that notion of diminishing returns? And from where stems this effervescent omnipresence of vivacity, élan and grace? Completely self-effacing. No hubris, no nemesis. As my mind eludes me in contemplation; a collective burst of laughter—they’re children again, and this is their playground. There’s really no other answer; It must be this place—this beguiling terroir. It takes a village to sever one’s ties to the manmade, and my allegiances have been assuaged, if not broken completely, by the sole virtue of togetherness.

    Even with that degree of loaded subtext, the food, as always, emerged victorious. The culinary phenoms who partook in the festivities of May 12th honoured the bounties of these parts, from fresh caught fish to foraged flowers from the kitchen’s gardens, paying homage to the land, and the folk—those special ingredients that make this place the singular, and majestic, destination that it is.

    The Curatorialist would like to extend heartfelt thanks to helmers Jesse Keefer and Chef Deniz Tarakcioglu [Bodega Ridge] for organizing this lovely affair, as well as Chef Joël Watanabe [Kissa Tanto/Bao Bei], Chef Alex Ploughman [Joey Restaurants Group], Chef Graham Marceau [Corduroy Pie Co./ Say Hey], the graceful duo of Haidee Hart and Amrei Hunter [Stowel Lake Farm], as well as Elmark Andres [The Dirty Apron] for their flavours, and brawn. And we’d be remiss not to mention the utterly attentive, hospitable staff of Bodega Ridge who made us feel so welcome, comprised of Nicole Hornsberger, Angie Allen, Hilary Jones, Jeylan Bishop and Paige Dudar.

    So here’s to many more debaucherous years, Bodega Ridge. Happy 15th from us to you. And I’ll be back, surely, to show you what it feels like to steal a mad man’s heart.

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