Chef Brian Skinner loves vegetables. It even says so in his Instagram bio. The acclaimed vegetarian chef is best known for his work at Vancouver’s Acorn restaurant and did the unexpected by winning gold at the 2013 B.C. Gold Medal Plates competition with a vegetarian dish. Since his departure from Acorn, he has taken on a few different pop-up gigs including a very different job working in the corporate test kitchen at Earls Restaurants.
Vegetarian dishes tend to get the second-hand treatment and that’s something Chef Brian wants to change. “I want to make vegetarian dishes more interesting,” he explains. “They should be designed with a purpose. A vegetarian meal isn’t just taking the meat off the dish as an afterthought.” While the work that Chef Brian has been doing at Earls isn’t only vegetarian, he’s helped the company change a few of the things they do like switching over from chicken stocks to vegetable ones. Moving this base item in the kitchen means that it will be easier to make the dishes vegetarian right from the start.
— Irene Seto (@HeySeto) November 5, 2015
Some of Chef Brian’s new dishes to the menu include things like the coconut curry-based Singapore Cauliflower and a twist on the traditional fattoush salad. They are a welcome addition to the Vancouver chain’s repertoire as he tackles the challenge of bringing new life and flavours to the dining experience. “The diner’s palette is evolving and we see some markets wanting this change. We want to make things new and exciting for the eater,” he explains. One of the bigger changes Chef Brian has taken charge of is shifting some of Earls’ “legacy dishes” into a fresh new take. For example, the traditional spinach and artichoke dip has made way for a Roasted Corn and Poblano Cheese Dip served with crispy bannock-style bread. Over the last year, he’s put together 25 new dishes that will be added to the restaurant’s menus over the coming months. As to what’s it like to have your dishes served all across the country? “Awesome! I was recently in Regina at their Earls location and the chefs executed the dishes to perfection,” he says.
Sooooo delicious. This Jerusalem salad is made of arugula, tomatoes, peppers, and pickled onions. It also has double dressing with a preserved lemon dressing and a sumac yogurt on the bottom of the plate. #yyc #yycfood #fresh #greens #foodie #instafood #veggies #salad A photo posted by Irene Seto (@heyseto) on
Chef Brian’s time with Earls is almost complete but the restaurant holds a special place in his heart. “I first worked at Earls back in 1995. It was great to come back and work with them again this past year. I’m willing to leaving the door open to coming back again if the chance comes up,” he says. In the meantime, the chef will be looking to open a new vegetarian restaurant in Vancouver in the upcoming year. And could a Calgary restaurant be on his radar in the future? “I’ve had lots and lots of people ask me to come out here [to Calgary] to open a vegetarian restaurant. We’ll see.”