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One-on-one with Chef Andrea Carlson of Burdock & Co

Chef Andrea Carlson of Burdock & Co in Vancouver, British Columbia equates the local terroir to ‘unique moments in the season’. These moments are fleeting, but they’re rooted (pun intended) in nature, and connected to a region. Take strawberries for example, many of the varieties are in peak season from June to early July in British Columbia. This short period of time sees ripe, red berries but blink and they’re gone. To Chef Andrea, this focus on local produce means that a chef needs to stay in tune with nature, and not get carried away with the trends.

At Burdock & Co, Chef Andrea aims to do just that – provide accessible food that utilizes the Canadian ingredients. Chef Andrea comes from a fine dining background, and this is evident when she describes complex pairings in dishes like goat camembert and fennel stuffed morels with pickled Bing cherry sauce. However, Burdock & Co is unpretentious, and I think that this can be partly attributed to the fact that Chef Andrea is so focused on her environment.

Chef Andrea describes Canadian cuisine as progressive, not static, or rigid. We often talk about how Canada isn’t a melting pot, that we celebrate the variety of cultures, and this is often reflected in the way we speak about Canadian food. I think this is often why we have trouble defining exactly what Canadian food is. But we don’t often pinpoint the idea of being malleable, flexible, and accepting as what Canadian food is. I like that we can use this as a defining feature of our cuisine. 

Do you have a lucky charm in the kitchen?

A small Japanese trinket of a silk swaddled baby bunny – he was my lucky ramen rabbit for a pop-up we did.

What’s the last thing you burned?

My arm.

Your favourite spice?

Fennel pollen

What makes you “kitchen angry”?

People not respecting the ingredients.

What’s your most extravagant purchase?

Antique kitchen implements that are too precious to use.

Favourite song in the kitchen?

Always into Leonard Cohen or anything from Nils Frahm.

What’s your comfort food?

Roasted chicken

What’s your most essential tool?

My favourite Takeda knife.

If you could change anything in the food industry, what would it be?

People’s misguided sense of what makes food valuable. Caviar having higher value than say a gooseberry

Favourite smell in the kitchen?

Everything! But especially fresh herbs and baking bread.

What’s your bad habit?

Not drinking enough water.

What do you admire in other chefs?

Self-assuredness, or at least the well-crafted image of it.

What or who is your greatest inspiration?

Nature

The dish you are proudest of?

House-dried persimmon cake with caramelized sauternes, custard, and pine mushroom ice cream.

What’s your end of the world menu?

We’d be in a park or at the beach with whatever produce is in peak season (let’s hope the world doesn’t end in February!), a charcoal BBQ, copious amounts of Oyama charcuterie, all my favourite cheeses, our arctic sourdough bread, my favourite wines, all the preserves and pickles from summer past – it would be quite a spread.

What is the one ingredient that you would never buy if it is not produced locally?

Berries

What is your favourite local drink?

Raspberry Changeling beer by Brassneck Brewery

What is Canadian food to you?

It is created from international flavours and cultures that reinvent themselves in the terroir of our various cities. 

Why do you participate in Food Day Canada?

I’ve been focused on local organic and sustainable food for many years and we are proud to support Food Day Canada as it gives a united identity to all the varied aspects of Canada’s local foods.

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