Lesley Kim holds a Grande Diplôme in cuisine and patisserie from Le Cordon Bleu Paris, but credits her work ethic to her rigorous training post education in France.
She returned to Vancouver and began hosting private supper clubs, which grew into ‘Dinner’, a catering company specializing in multi course European dining experiences.
She also works under Dick Noble at The Butcher to learn the traditional craft of butchery and sustainable food sources. Outside of the kitchen, she created last winter's Spectacle gala to raise funds for Seva Canada and is the only Vancouver chef to have delivered a TED talk, the highlight of the 2014 TEDx Vancouver conference.
Here are Kim's five favourite restaurants in Vancouver:
Le Crocodile, 100-909 Burrard Street
Kim calls Le Crocodile "a staple in my family since the 80s", adding that "no matter what season, time, day or year one thing you can expect from Chef Jacob and his team is consistency at the highest level. Tradition and respect to ingredients makes this a quick escape to Paris on any given Vancouver evening".
She recommends "Chef Michel’s annual homage to his hometown region of Alsace, where he presents a full on elevated winestub experience of duck, saucisson, choucroute and pork. Oh and lots of wine, bien sûr".
Ask for Luigi, 305 Alexander Street
Kim enjoys the "fresh handmade pasta, seasonal menu and authentic Italian fare" at this small Gastown restaurant. She warns diners to "not be fooled by the casual bistro ambience," since these are "far from typical and highly sophisticated offerings ranging from Lombardy to Calabria". Kim usually orders the specials, for fear they won’t reappear on the menu. She says she has yet to be disappointed.
Blacktail Florist, 200-332 Water Street
Blacktail Florist offers "local, seasonal, sustainable and made to order" food, "a.k.a. my core values in cooking" says Kim. "Chef Geoff Rogers has masterfully found harmony with technique, flavour, product integrity and artistry. I have dreams about his 72 hour sous vide short rib and would order an entire bowl of his fresh chicharrón garnish if I could…"
Ajisai Sushi, 2081 West 42nd Avenue
"This 16 seat closet in a Kerrisdale back alley is easily my favourite sushi spot in the country", Kim says. "The authentic sushi chefs masterfully prepare fresh dishes as they did back in Japan".
Her favourite is the special chirashi and "perfectly grilled" Gindara.
The Patty Shop, 4019 Macdonald Street (no web site)
"Tucked away in an unassuming storefront", says Kim, "lies a long-time family run West Indian counter". Despite the lack of seating, she has been "eating their chicken Roti with extra pepper sauce and curry chicken patties for decades.