I headed over to the former Refuel space (1944 West 4th) to talk to Top Chef Canada competitor Trevor Bird and partners (Kathy Schleyer and Ron MacGillivray) about their new restaurant Fable, which will open in Kits in mid May.
The team was hard at work when I arrived and the space is looking good. The new brick walls are coming along, as is the wood flooring and the shelf for house made preserves. The look is simple and rustic to match the farm-to-table menu. But Refuel’s legendary open plan kitchen with window to the street will remain the same. It played a key part in Trevor’s decision to take the space.
“The open concept kitchen is a draw,” says Bird. “It teaches cooks not to be socially awkward in the back of the kitchen. They can have a conversation with their clients. It shows patrons where their food comes from. The street windows were huge for me.”
Expect to talk to chefs who know the context of their food. The restaurant will use local, small farms and is more concerned with how animals are raised and produce is grown than with oft misused words like “organic” and “free range.”
“I’m going for knowing where your food comes from and how it’s produced. I choose farmers that are completely transparent. I ask the simple questions like: ‘Can I come check out your farm?’ I’m definitely encouraging my cooks to go to these farms and find out how things are grown, when they’re in season, how to pick and preserve. To get all this basic knowledge that’s so much deeper than cooking.”
“Why Kitsilano?” I ask.
“It’s hip. It fit our time frame. It all came together really well,” says Bird.
Schleyer expands: “It’s exciting for us to be a new kid somewhere established as opposed to going to Main Street or Gastown where there are so many new faces. People who live in Kits like to eat in Kits. It’s fun to join that. There are so many great places to eat in Kits. People know to come here.”
Top Chef Canada Season 2 launched March 12, 2012 and airs Monday evenings at 10pm. 7 of 13 episodes have shown so far. 8 of 16 chefs remain, including Trevor. I can’t help speculating that winners receive cash prizes and a new restaurant takes investment.
While the exact opening date remains to be determined, Bird guarantees a Mothers’ Day Brunch service.
Read about the menu here.