A few years back I was one of the judges at the B.C. portion of the Canadian Culinary Championships and, as such, got to taste some out-of-this-world creations. And then came Boulevard's chef Alex Chen and blew everyone out of the water. I'm not kidding—his seafood parfait of local shrimp, Northern Divine caviar and bull kelp—literally had the judges stunned into silence with its greatness. Suffice to say, Chef Chen won B.C. and then proceeded to the national finals and won there too.
Fast forward to this year, and this time it's Boulevard's Roger Ma who, by all accounts, did the same feat of virtuoso cooking as his pal: nailed the B.C. regionals and then rolled into Ottawa this weekend and did the same. It's a pride-swelling moment for us here in YVR and it gives us some nice ammunition in support of all of our secret contention that we're far and away the best food city in Canada.
To be fair, both Ma and Chen have the resources behind them to be able to do their very best work unfettered. I mean the financial backing of Boulevard and the Sutton place of course, but I also mean the talent that's in the Boulevard kitchen: there's no kitchen that's deeper in skill in the city. You have Chen, who has some sort of supervisory role throughout the hotel, then you have Ma at the helm of Boulevard and under him the insanely talented pastry chef Kenta Takahashi, chef de cuisine Eva Chin (formerly head chef at Royal Dinette) and a few others who I don't know by name, but who operate a kitchen that runs like a symphony. Then you have a killer front of house team. They're like the 1939 Yankees. Role players in this kitchen would be head chefs anywhere else. But all that aside—if you're not a culinary genius, no amount of support is going to make you champ.
So hats off to Chef Ma. He already made my fave dish of the year—and now he's shown the entire country what a star he is.