Anthony Bourdain is no stranger to Vancouver. It's one of his favorite cities, and he's glad to be back. With its sweeping harbor and mountain views, Vancouver has long been recognized as one of the most beautiful places in the world. Thanks to a steady flow of immigrants to its shores over the past 100 years, Vancouver today can boast of having one of the most ethnically diverse, multicultural societies on the planet. The Vancouver restaurant scene certainly reflects that cultural variety! It's a foodie town. It's a chefs town, and Anthony's back to catch up with at least three of them—the "three amigos".
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean. Spanning over 9.9 million square kilometres, Canada is the world's second-largest country by total area, and its common border with the United States is the longest land border in the world.
The land that is now Canada was inhabited for millennia by various groups of Aboriginal peoples. Beginning in the late 15th century, British and French expeditions explored, and later settled, along the Atlantic coast. France ceded nearly all of its colonies in North America in 1763 after the Seven Years' War. In 1867, with the union of three British North American colonies through Confederation, Canada was formed as a federal dominion of four provinces. This began an accretion of provinces and territories and a process of increasing autonomy from the United Kingdom. This widening autonomy was highlighted by the Statute of Westminster 1931 and culminated in the Canada Act 1982, which severed the vestiges of legal dependence on the British parliament.
Canada is a federal state that is governed as a parliamentary democracy and a constitutional monarchy with Queen Elizabeth II as its head of state. It is a bilingual nation with both English and French as official languages at the federal level. One of the world's most highly developed countries, Canada has a diversified economy that is reliant upon its abundant natural resources and upon trade—particularly with the United States, with which Canada has had a long and complex relationship. It is a member of the G7, G8, G20, NATO, OECD, WTO, Commonwealth of Nations, Francophonie, OAS, APEC, and UN. With the sixth-highest Human Development Index globally, Canada has one of the highest standards of living in the world.
Vancouver is a coastal city located in British Columbia, Canada. Vancouver is one of the Canada's largest industrial centres. Port Metro Vancouver is now the busiest and largest in Canada, as well as the fourth largest port (by tonnage) in North America. Vancouver is also the headquarters of forest product and mining companies. In recent years, Vancouver has become an increasingly important centre for software development and biotechnology. It is also the third-largest film production centre in North America after Los Angeles and New York City, earning its film industry the nickname "Hollywood North".
Although Vancouver is synonymous with rainy weather, it is one of the warmest Canadian cities; its climate is temperate by Canadian standards. The city is well known as an urban centre surrounded by nature, making tourism its second-largest industry. Each year over a million people pass through Vancouver on cruise ship vacations, often bound for Alaska. The 2010 Winter Olympics and 2010 Winter Paralympics were held in Vancouver and nearby Whistler, a resort community 78 miles north of the city.
The economy of Vancouver is one of the most energetic in Canada due to Vancouver's situation as the nation's gateway to the Pacific Rim, a major port, and the main western terminus of transcontinental highway and rail routes. Major economic sectors include trade, film, natural resources, technology and tourism.
Vancouver has been ranked one of the most livable cities in the world for more than a decade. As of 2010, Vancouver has been ranked as having the 4th highest quality of living of any city on Earth. In contrast, according to Forbes, Vancouver had the 6th most overpriced real estate market in the world and was second-highest in North America after Los Angeles in 2007. Along with Toronto, Vancouver has also been ranked among Canada's least affordable cities in which to live; ranking 13th least affordable in the world. Forbes has also ranked Vancouver as the tenth cleanest city in the world.
According to the 2006 census, Vancouver had a population of 578,041, and 2.1 million people resided in its metropolitan area. Over the last 30 years, immigration has dramatically increased, making the city more ethnically and linguistically diverse; 52% do not speak English as their first language.
Vancouver has been called a "city of neighborhoods," each with a distinct character and ethnic mix. People of English, Scottish, and Irish origins were historically the largest ethnic groups in the city, and elements of British and Irish society and culture are still visible in some areas, particularly South Granville and Kerrisdale. Germans are the next-largest European ethnic group in Vancouver and were a leading force in the city's society and economy until the rise of anti-German sentiment with the outbreak of World War I in 1914. The Chinese are by far the largest visible ethnic group in the city, and Vancouver has a very diverse Chinese-speaking community. Neighborhoods with distinct ethnic commercial areas include the Chinatown, Punjabi Market, Little Italy, Greektown, and (formerly) Japantown.
In the 1980s, an influx of immigrants from Hong Kong in anticipation of its transfer from the United Kingdom to China, combined with an increase in immigrants from mainland China and previous immigrants from Taiwan, established in Vancouver one of the highest concentrations of ethnic Chinese residents in North America, with almost 30% of the city's inhabitants being of Chinese heritage. This arrival of Asian immigrants continued a tradition of immigration from around the world that had established Vancouver as the second-most popular destination for immigrants in Canada (after Toronto). Other significant Asian ethnic groups in Vancouver are South Asian (mostly Punjabi), Vietnamese, Filipino, Indonesian, Korean, Cambodians and Japanese.
From the mid 1950s until the 1980s, many Portuguese immigrants came to Vancouver and the city now has the third-largest Portuguese population in Canada. Eastern Europeans, including Yugoslavs, Russians, Czechs, Poles and Hungarians began immigrating after the Soviet takeover of Eastern Europe after World War II. Vancouver also has a significant aboriginal community of about 11,000 people.
Vancouver has a large gay community focused on the West End neighborhood lining a certain stretch of Davie Street, recently officially designated as Davie Village, though the gay community is omnipresent throughout West End and Yaletown areas. Vancouver is host to one of the country's largest annual gay pride parades. British Columbia was the second Canadian jurisdiction (after Ontario) to legalize same-sex marriage.
The city's scenic location makes it a major tourist destination. Visitors come for the city's gardens, Stanley Park, Queen Elizabeth Park, VanDusen and the mountains, ocean, forest and parklands surrounding the city. Each year over a million people pass through Vancouver on cruise ship vacations, often bound for Alaska.
Vancouver has a vibrant nightlife scene, whether it be food and dining, or bars and nightclubs. The Granville Entertainment District has the city's highest concentration of bars and nightclubs with closing times of 3am, in addition to various after-hours clubs open til late morning on weekends. The street can attract large crowds on weekends and is closed to traffic on such nights. Gastown is also a popular area for nightlife with many upscale restaurants and nightclubs, as well as the Davie Village which is centre to the city's gay and lesbian LGBT community.
Anthony Bourdain became good friends with three chefs, who he refers to as the "three amigos", during one of his earlier visits to Vancouver. So whenever Anthony's in town, he tries to reconnect with them.
Cioppino’s Mediterranean Grill: Anthony drops in to see amigo #1, Pino Posteraro, a well-known Italian chef from Lago, Italy, and owner of Cioppino’s Mediterranean Grill in Yaletown, an area of Downtown Vancouver. Anthony's surprised and impressed to see Pino's already introducing his young son to the business. Since Anthony has caught Pino in the middle of a rush hour, he doesn't stay long, but before he leaves, Pino prepares one of his dishes for Anthony—chilled-tomato consommé with some lobster.
Japa Dog: Anthony and his new assistant producer Nari head to Japa Dog, a street food vendor, to sample this popular Japanese hot dog by the same name. A japadog is a variation of the New York City hot dog. Widely acclaimed by noted journalists and a growing celebrity clientele, Japa Dog is increasingly where the elite meet to eat. Anthony has the terimayo dog, which consists of beef sausage with teriyaki sauce, fried onions, nori sprinkles, and japanese mayo. Nari has the misodog, which consists of a turkey frank with daikon sprouts, miso-sesame, and mayo.
Whistler-Blackcomb Resort: Anthony and Nari travel to Whistler, a Canadian resort town in the southern Pacific Ranges of the Coast Mountains in the province of British Columbia, approximately 78 miles north of Vancouver. The winter season officially ends in May, but it's in middle of July and raining when Anthony meets up with his guide—snowboarding Olympic Gold Medalist Ross Rebagliati. Since the resort is flanked by glaciated mountains on both sides, you can still snowboard on parts of the mountain from June through August, so Nari books a snowboard lesson with Ross. Anthony opts for skiing, but the rain makes the snow on the trails less than optimal, so after a few runs he heads back to the ski lodge.
Over two million people visit Whistler annually, primarily for alpine skiing and mountain biking at Whistler-Blackcomb. Its pedestrian village has won numerous design awards and Whistler has been voted among the top destinations in North America by major ski magazines since the mid-1990s. During the 2010 Winter Olympics, Whistler hosted most of the alpine, Nordic, luge, skeleton, and bobsled events.
ZipTrek Ecotour: Nari makes it up to Anthony for the botched ski trip with a ziptrek ecotour of the rainforest between Whistler and Blackcomb mountains with TreeTrek Tours. Traveling at speeds of almost 100 kilometers an hour, Nari and Anthony zip 100 feet above the creek.
Tojo's Restaurant: Back in Vancouver, Anthony visits amigo #2, Hidekazu Tojo, a Japanese chef from Osaka and owner of Tojo's Restaurant. Unlike a lot of transplanted Japanese chefs who get everything flown in from Tokyo, Tojo takes advantage of Vancouver's local products and rather extraordinary bounty of fresh seafood and adapts his daily menu possibilities to that. More traditionally, he gets to know his customers personally, remembering their likes and dislikes and building their meals around that knowledge. He knows, of course, what Anthony likes. First dish: tempura-fried zucchini blossoms stuffed with fresh scallop. Second dish: deep fried dungeness crab stuffed with baby dungeness crabs, japanese celery, daikon with pepper, and mustard miso dressing. Third dish: halibut cheek with morel stuffed with red-striped whitefish. Last but not least: west coast tuna toro (the fatty portion of the tuna's belly) dressed with a special wasabi (Japanese horseradish) prepared by rubbing it against a sharkskin wasabi grater to form a smooth paste. It's like a religious experience for Anthony!
EA Sports Headquarters: Next David, Company Product Manager of EA Sports, one of the top producers of sports video games, gives Anthony a tour of their EA Vancouver's swanky headquarters. Anthony marvels at how laid back and fun the working environment is. They even bring a chef in once a week to prepare soba dishes for the employees for lunch. Anthony observes some of the stages of development and production for a new sports game. They even use Anthony's digital likeness for one of the soccer players of an Italian team.
Movie Studio: Anthony visits a movie studio, where he makes a brief cameo appearance in the film Far Cry by German director Uwe Boll, starring Til Schweiger. Anthony plays the role of Dr. Tad Chanko, a scientist who works on genetically modified super soldiers.
Vij's Restaurant & Rangoli: Anthony visits amigo #3, Vikram Vij, owner and head chef of the very popular Vij's Restaurant, which specializes in Indian cuisine, and the owner of the new Vij's Rangoli, which uniquely doubles as a market and a restaurant. Vij's Rangoli sells frozen and refrigerated ready-to-eat authentic Indian dishes—basically high-end, perfectly prepared entrées and sauces to go. Vikram's staff is made up of only women, all great cooks who he affectionately refer to as his "Aunties". Anthony sits down with the aunties for a staff meal of only vegetarian dishes: curried greens; chopped-up mustard greens with a little bit of spinach, cheese and peas; mattar paneer consisting of paneer (cheese) and peas in a sweet and spicy sauce; chapati (unleavened flatbread); and homemade pickled chilies. Every dish is very fresh and the flavors are vibrant—authentic Indian food.
Sooke Harbor House: Anthony hops over to Vancouver Island to visit Sooke Harbor House and meet the legendary Edward Tuson, head chef at this Victoria landmark. Nearly everything on the surrounding grounds is edible, including the trees and flowers. After a tour, including their organic garden and livestock, Anthony sits down with owner Sinclair Philip to enjoy several dishes including: a nasturtium flower and a minced gooey-duck tower garnished with sage flower, pickled golden beets, and wild sorrel puree; crispy albacore tuna served with a tuberous begonia sauce, daikon radish, and dianthus petals; a fragrant flower salad made with a number of the 50 or 100 edible flowers and common roadside weeds in the area; and sablefish and the chef's own bacon, wrapped in seaweed, steamed in homemade miso and bull kelp broth, atop nodding onion and some kind of leaf fritter. Chef Tuson would make potpourri taste good!
Vancouver Island lies along the Pacific Ring of Fire; it is the most seismically active region in Canada. The island has been the homeland to many indigenous peoples for thousands of years; the groupings, by language, are the Kwakwaka'wakw, Nuu-chah-nulth, and Coast Salish. Sport fishing, whale-watching, hiking, SCUBA diving, and skiing are just a few things for which tourists visit Vancouver Island. Visitors also come to see Victoria's 19th century architecture, and the many villages which line the coast such as Cowichan Bay, Chemainus, and Qualicum Beach.
Potluck Dinner: Anthony and Nari join the "three amigos" for the much anticipated final segment meal. They meetup at Pino's house for a potluck of dishes representative of each of their partcular cuisine—Italian, Japanese, and Indian. Pino prepares one of his mother's dishes: baked halibut steaks seasoned with parsley, garlic, olive oil, with little white wine. Vikram brought his dishes in traditional tiffin carriers, a kind of lunch box used widely in India for tiffin meals. Inside they contain such delicacies as coconut chicken, lamb stew, and a mushroom cream curry with lots of cream, paneer, bell peppers and mushrooms. Tojo prepares baked wild spring salmon flavored by cedar and miso sauce, as well as smoked sablefish box sushi (sushi pressed into the shape of a box).
Vikram confesses that he's had offers from major casinos to come to Las Vegas, which he adds holds no attraction for him. To Anthony's amazement none of the three amigos would jump at an opportunity to open a restaurant in a big Vegas casino hotel. They espouse the advantages of staying in Vancouver, especially its fusion of cultures and cuisine, where they're very happy and eager to stay.