Recipe | Haitham El-Khatib · Curator | Hakan Burcuoğlu · Venue | Aleph Eatery · Gear | Leica
Haitham El-Khatib, helmer of Vancouver’s magnanimous Middle Eastern fixture—Aleph—is a perennial optimist with a penchant for epicurean confluence. Investing years of bonafide brain & brawn into a beguiling concept that’s neither stuffy, nor superfluous, Haitham, and his soft-spoken, ebullient wife Fiona, have persevered in conjuring up a warm-and-fuzzy concept that’s curiously convivial, unapologetically vegetarian, and cosmic-climax guaranteed.
Their boutique concept which moonlights as the perfect gateway to Middle Eastern food and hospitality is deserved of any paean. So no wonder we’ve joined forces, to bring to you voracious Vancouverites an unparalleled feast that celebrates the Levant, and all things summer—Levantine Lullaby.
Headlining Levantine Lullaby is Haitham’s Fatteh & Fasenjan—a sultry concoction disguised as a majestic mash-up, bringing into one bowl the best of both worlds—in this instance, Palestine and Iran. Having grown up devouring both dishes as a toddler, naturally, Haitham’s found solace, and his deliverance, in the act of conjoining the two. It’s silky, spicy, and crunchy as fuck. So buy your tickets to our upcoming feast, double-down, and get F’ed up.
… 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.
… 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.
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.
… 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.
… 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.
Menu | Matt-Murtagh-Wu & Chef David Wu · Curators | Hakan Burcuoğlu & Linda Gallo · Venue | Rhinofish Noodle Bar · Gear | Leica
That’s a wrap on Part I of CRIMSON CANTEEN—a Taiwanese night-market inspired pop-up food phenomenon that delivered a galvanizing cornucopia of lascivious nourishment to over 70 patrons at saporous Chinatown fixture, Rhinofish Noodle Bar. The evening harnessed the talents of two wondrous wunderkinds—The Wu Brothers—Vancouver’s Dumpling King Matt Murtagh-Wu, and Taiwanese Chef David Wu. Having sworn allegiance to the amicably arcane [and dangerously concupiscent] cuisine of Taiwan, CRIMSON CANTEEN manifested itself as an evening of gluttonous [and drunken] revelling.
Just like all Curatorialist events, CRIMSON CANTEEN was made possible thanks to the collective toil of passionate and dedicated bon vivants who work in the food and creative industries. Our heartfelt thanks goes to Chefs Andrew Song, Eric Cheng and Bobby Nunez of Coastal Cocktails, alongside Rhinofish Noodle Bar’s [life-saving] incumbent staff, comprised of Adam Schmidt, Alicia Zeng, Kendra Herrin, Eric Chen and the perennially youthful spirit, Mrs. Pin Lin. Also, a special thanks to Jovia Pang for her perplexingly flavourful, silky smooth ice-cream that cold-kissed the fat laden tongues of our loyal patrons.
We’ll continue to gild the lily, and satisfy hungry minds. Tune in for the next pop-up food phenomenon in April.
… breaking the fourth wall.
Curator & Writer | Hakan Burcuoğlu · Venue | Rhinofish Noodle Bar · Gear | Leica
A history suspended in neon-illusion, and an unfounded sense of crimson macabre. I’m partial to these parts—I’ve worked, eaten and [momentarily] relapsed here. And as a [recovering] cynic who harbours a heart of darkness, as well as a soft-side for anything kooky, I’ll be brazen—Chinatown will always be a haven, my safe space.
Fuck the boilerplate, Chinatown doesn’t need your sympathy. She won’t stand for it—still the most flavour-packed, booze-laden, and beguiling neighbourhood Vancouver has to offer. The nouvelle vague is here, and this time around, they’re doing the razing. Down comes the fourth wall, and up go your illusions. And as far as metaphors go, David’s center stage, staring us straight in the eyes.
If you decide to glance back, you may have to confront a reality disallowing of daydreaming. The father of a newborn daughter—not to mention a restaurant in its infancy, a love letter to his Taiwanese heritage—David’s journey, in every sense of the word, has been arduous, and full of sustained attrition. Though he’s nursed the convalescence, and reached a point where he’s reaping the fruits of his toil, it hasn’t left him unscathed. But that kind of scar tissue makes bones, after all.
We founded Chef’Stock with that in mind—an echo chamber for culinary wax poetic, and a sanctuary where chefs get to be human, as opposed to demigods. So here’s to breaking more walls, and to the man of the hour whose eyes do the talking.
Recipe | David Wu · Curator | Hakan Burcuoğlu · Venue | Rhinofish Noodle Bar · Gear | Leica
Its provenance rooted in the Southeastern Chinese province of Jiangxi, the eponymous three-cup chicken is a humble, yet beloved, staple of Taiwanese cuisine, and one of her top epicurean exports. Traditionally cooked in earthenware, where no two renditions are ever quite the same, it’s the textbook definition of a one-pot wonder, an embodiment of savoury & sweet, and a fine exemplar of what umami is, and ought to be. The method or preparation borders split-personality, and hence requires focus and prowess, necessitating on the onset face-melting heat to properly char—almost burn—the chicken, followed by its coup de grâce—a low-and-slow simmer that transforms night into day, manifesting the sweet out of the [otherwise] sordid.
So, if you can’t handle the heat, get out of the fucking chicken. You’ve been warned.