• [C]hronicled. | HEAT LALIBERTE

     … audentis fortuna iuvat

    Curator & Writer | Hakan Burcuoğlu · Venue | Heat’s Home & Culinary Capers · Gear | Leica

    A timid tree in abscission,
    And a hatched egg underside a fallen leaf.
    ’Tis the gift of life, surely.
    But what of the land; fraught with flustered flora?
    A detritus there beckons,
    Laden with throes. Laced with trauma.
    Careful, caterpillar.
    Your iridescence has foes,
    And though time doth passes,
    It leaves holes.

    But the sun rises,
    And survival begets spun silk,
    Now you’re a cocoon,
    But distanced from your ilk.
    Where’s your limerence! Incant! Sing!
    You’ve finally emerged from chrysalis,
    Just flap your wings.

    Once a larvae,
    And now a lullaby,
    I watch you fly,
    Into blue blue skies.

    Fortune favours the bold. And we favour you. Welcome to The Curatorialist, Heat Laliberté.
    [And thanks to my friend Matt, Vancouver’s venerable Dumpling King, for telling me about this beautiful man.]

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  • KARRI SCHUERMANS

     …a beautiful inappropriateness & principum individuationis.  

    Curator & Writer | Hakan Burcuoğlu · Venue | Chambar · Gear | Leica

    A forlorn moon, and lonely skies befriended by curious constellation. Our night is waning; left is the scent of dying embers, the lingering smoke of ashed cigarettes, and the poignant perfume of potato chips. It’s late. So late we can hear the pond frogs fuck. But what’s an inundation of amphibian virility in the face of revelry? These are the love-children of Dionysus, a ragtag of impish lifers—chefs, industry, and everyone in between. Tightly nestled inside a wunderkammer tucked deep in the wilderness, suddenly, there’s a turn in parlance. Sitting in the corner, his eyes disguised under a cap, a chef renders wax poetic, “Karri and Nico… they were like godparents to me”. A forceful introspect, and a final pour of red. As nostalgia bleeds into wistfulness, we observe our silence. And even though the frogs have come to a halt, we remain sentient, beckoned by daybreak. So I fasten my wings and journey to the Sun. And in an utter reversal of fate, amidst dark coffee and crumbling cake, there appears Helios incarnate—“Good morning. I’m Karri”.

    Though I’ve fallen victim to hubris, much like the ill-fated Icarus, the case of Karri, vis-à-vis Chambar, is one that demands heavy concessions to promulgated pontifications. Deeming “West-Coast safe” their anathema, Karri and Nico, alongside their bacchanal-inducing staff, have conjured up a cosmic brand of revelry—a phenomenon they’ve coined Civilized Debauchery—that [still] constitutes the single most unassailable blueprint for operational success in Vancouver today. It’s the telling tale of trickle-down gastronomics, and not a soul feels foisted. Over the last decade and a half, hundreds of Chambar alumni have bid adieu to their lodestar in search of new beginnings, bringing along with them the patois, and boundless bravura, they once helped forge at Chambar. Collectively, they’ve unfucked the complacency out of a town once painted in pastels.

    I’m not in the business of lauding restaurants, it’s the people that compel me. And from where I stand, a posteriori, Karri is rara avis—an effusive spirit, a post-modern mother, and a boss [I’m told] you’d prison-shank yourself to work for. We’ve imbibed the Chambar story ad nauseam, but perhaps, this particular rendition of Karri’s life, and lore, proves to be the one never before witnessed.

    Welcome to The Curatorialist, Karri Schuermans.

    & & &

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  • [C]hronicled. | HAIDEE HART

     … Home is where the Hart is.

    Curator & Writer | Hakan Burcuoğlu · Venue | Stowel Lake Farm, Salt Spring Island · Gear | Leica

    Gazing through my viewfinder, inside a country kitchen I stand. And amidst a pantheon of burly chefs cascaded in chiaroscuro, I see only her—an oculus, through which shoots a blinding beam of light, seamlessly elucidating this chthonic cavern. And with an arresting sentience she luxuriates—professing admiration to piles of sun-kissed bounty—to each bulb of beet, and last petal picked. And though I’m a louche cynic, I’ll indulge you, and perhaps even promulgate, that it’s beyond beautiful. All of it. So much so, you feel remorse even picturing it. From where hails this wondrous woman—this epicurean pugilist—evincing in me maudlin sentiments of ambrosia, petrichor, and grace?

    Haidee’s presence is indelible, and most evident in her idyllic domain, Salt Spring Island’s heaven-on-earth fixture, Stowel Lake Farm—brandishing a singular facet of utopia where bunnies hop, chickens talk, and gregarious farm folk welcome flocking souls with inviting eyes, uttering phrases like “How are you?” and really mean it. It’s sun-drenched. It’s lollipops and crisps. It’s a soul-rending Radiohead song, a palpable chimera where your heart skips.

    Wife to an [equally] astonishing artisan, and mother to four delightful [and perfectly chiseled] children, Haidee has singlehandedly transformed her life’s passion of cooking—once just a humble avocation—into a full-fledged international career. Her endless quest for beauty—be it in the ground, or on a plate—has commanded indefatigable effort and tremendous sacrifice. Harbouring diehard allegiance to the land [and life], she’s the embodiment of grit & grace—a dreamweaver who weaves while she’s awake. And with an island community championing her every move, us converts watch in awe, utterly subsumed.

    Welcome to The Curatorialist, Chef Haidee Hart.

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  • KIERAN FANNING

     …on wanderlust, weltschmerz, and wine [grape juice]

    Curator & Writer | Hakan Burcuoğlu · Venue | Kieran’s Home & Pepino’s · Gear | Leica

    Life doesn’t come easy for a wunderkind, especially with the countenance of a 13-year old [his words, not mine]. And as is the case with most of his ilk, Kieran, too, vacillates the grey areas between weltschmerz and wanderlust, searching for his place in this world. Otherwise, he’s heedful—tending to thirst—pandering to the baser instincts of impish patrons with burgundy lips, and bubbly spirits. And though he brandishes an unassuming patina, he’s studious—and forever curious—holding a panoply of grape [and classical music] knowledge that is unassailable. This, coupled with his unorthodox ways, imparts a much-needed fleck of sunshine into two worlds that are otherwise rigid, and pantheistic. And for that, he’s deserved of any paean.

    Kieran also holds a dear place in our heart for being the inaugural subject in our newly founded exposé—SpeakEasy. Partial to the life stories of beguiling boozers & belligerent bon vivants, it’ll serve as an insightful, yet electric, echo chamber for those who hail from the world of hospitality. Expect no aphorisms, and assailants to the inviolable. Welcome to The Curatorialist, Mr. Kieran Fanning.

    & & &

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  • [C]hronicled. | MELANIE WITT

     … the anatomy of melancholia

    Curator & Writer | Hakan Burcuoğlu · Venue | Mel’s Home & Osteria Savio Volpe · Gear | Leica

    Akitchen clad in forlorn formica, and the poignant perfume of steamed, buttery cake. We’re here to lay bare—victims of vignettes—our visages cascaded by soft, intermittent shadows, of rustling drapes. Pilfered of light, and her alluring gaze, it’s scintillating shadowplay—an ocular tryst. How to posterize this instance… and to elucidate this camera obscura? I now realize it was never about the depiction, but rather the telling imprint of her subdued aversion—magnificent melancholia.

    And that magnificence transcends, evident in her sultry paramour—Vancouver’s boner-inducing, saporous fixture, Osteria Savio Volpe. But she’s no wistful protagonist in this autofiction; instead, she transmogrifies, stoically helming a brilliant brigade of burly, hardknock chefs. Though she’s poised in her passion, and deserved of any paean, there’s always that heart of darkness—that line she’ll never cross. And as is with most chefs cooking at this level, life outside the sanctuary can be one painted in abstractions.

    We’re partial to Mel here at The Curatorialist—she’s the first woman to grace our presence, and a herald for many, many more. So now that we’ve seen the light, let this Falstaffian foray be our aubade for ascension. Welcome, Chef Melanie Witt. [And our apologies for plastering 1000 posters of you around town. Video here.]

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  • [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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  • Sketchy | JUSTIN OGILVIE

     … l’étranger.

    Curator & Writer | Hakan Burcuoğlu · Venue | Justin’s Studio · Gear | Leica

    5years ago, on a dreadfully wet Vancouver evening, inside a dilapidated WINNERS store with atrocious air quality and offensive lighting, I ran into Maria—a high school friend from Ankara I hadn’t seen in over 12 years. Although we’d never been that close, what stayed with me, in spite of the time spent asunder, was her exuberance—a relentless life force that always culminated into a singular brand of Russian revelry. Who knew a late night stroll for epsom salts [and winter socks] would open up a world of existential wonder?

    Although Justin—Maria’s husband—came by association, he was very much integral to this new world order. And for the better part of five years, we’ve become quite close; revelling in the face of the absurd, much like Meursault in Camus’ Stranger. But unlike the titular hero’s fate, entering Justin’s Dionysian domain, and experiencing his inner workings, was not only a rarity—it was emancipatory, fucking Narnia. And what seemed like a veneer of hubris had proven all but illusory, giving way to humbled grandiloquence—a seasoned raconteur, and master flâneur, drifting away in his own Peter Pan universe.

    Interviewing artists is nothing but unchartered territory for me, and I’d never been this nervous going into one. Whilst reviewing some talking points the night before our session, my phone rang and it was Justin. There I was, thinking “fuck, he’s going to either postpone or cancel”. But his words were quick to assuage my various anxieties —“Hey Hakan. Let’s just drink and hang out. I might paint… Do you like gin!?” Yes, Justin. I love gin. But I like your paintings better. So this time, I tried my hand at drifting, submitting to his domain, and process. We drank lots, talked about life and art, and listened to Radiohead. I’ll never forget that night. So here’s to you, Mr. Ogilvie.

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  • [C]hronicled. | MARK SINGSON

     … from darkness to light, and the virtues of acceptance. 

    Curator & Writer | Hakan Burcuoğlu · Venue | Gastown, Vancouver · Gear | Leica

    Filipinos pioneered pathological altruism. I’m saying it, because I know they won’t—vanity never seemed to be their brand of fashion. I have a lot of Filipino friends, and their perennial positivity has kept assuaging my existential allegiances, so much so, that I’m like, happier again. Must they all be champion Good Samaritans? And must their joie de vivre be so contagious? Regardless, they’re giving us cynics a pretty shit name.

    Mark’s provenance; his remarkable journey that traverses Las Piñas, Philippines and Vancouver, Canada is a masterclass in familial resilience, an eloquent dissertation on patience and dedication, and silent revelry in nostalgic longing. It’s poignancy, distilled. Thankfully, having enough aunts around him to rebuild modern civilization, in the absence of his mother and father, his childhood never culminated into a vestige pilfered of its innocence. And the proof’s in the pudding, just look at the photos. [Spoiler: Fanny Pack fashions]

    It’s an exciting time for Mark, and things are happening to him at a rate he can neither process, nor fathom. And, as is the case with most Dionysian minds, he too sublimates. It’s all healthy of course—he’s got good bones, following in the footsteps of a brave, industrious and self-made mother. His prized trait is his virtue of acceptance, which is why, at ostensibly the most important time in his life—and career—he holds the power to weave his own dreams. And he’s earned it, time and time over. So here’s to you, Mr. Dreamweaver. Welcome to The Curatorialist family.

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  • Sketchy | GARVIN CHINNIA

     … some kind of special.

    Curator & Writer | Hakan Burcuoğlu · Venue | Emily Carr University · Gear | Leica

    He muses, holding in his palm a pillbox of larvae, frozen in time, suspended in amber. On his work desk, an ornamental mason jar; inside it, the tiniest mouse, decomposing and unrecognizable—gone to glory. Behind old Mickey sits a monolithic aquarium—a theatre of life, a harbinger of terminus. I’m out of place—awestruck—searching for familiarity. But for Garvin, none of this is farrago—it’s distilled melancholia, metamorphosis in miasma.

    Artists are tempestuous, and Garvin’s chaos incarnate. But there’s a brand of fragility that accompanies the carnage—exemplified by the surrounding geography of his hometown Sherwood Park—an idyllic, Albertan hamlet nestled in between farm fields and oil country. The duality is real—his very parlance—and it’s moulded him into an artist with an astonishing ability for sway-and-flux, inherent in every brush stroke as he belabours the canvas—rigid yet fluid, forceful yet submissive, confident yet forever in doubt.

    So here’s to SKETCHY—a revelatory new segment where we inveigh upon the realities of singular artists and their most peculiar feeding habits—be it spiritual, or nutritional. Artists need to eat, after all.

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