Best of Vancouver: Home Entertaining

 Got a list of things you need to fix, change, upgrade? But don’t know where to start, or how to sort the experts from the charlatans? We’ve done the dirty work for you. We looked far and wide, asked customers and competitors, and tried out many of these enterprises ourselves. Here’s the inside track to the city’s miracle workers.


You saw Julie & Julia and resolved to entertain at home more often? Swell. But you’ve got no game? There are all manner of excellent cooking classes in the city, but the best place to start might be Quince’s Essential Knife Class with Andrea Jefferson (whose ninja-like cutting skills are legendary among old-guard chefs). Jefferson will run you through the various knives and their uses, plus sharpening techniques and, most importantly, how to chop with killer precision to ensure even cooking and a professional finished product. Mirepoix? Chiffonade? Concassé? Child’s play. Quince, 1780 W. Third Ave., 604-731-4645.

You want to throw a smart cocktail party but your home bar consists of Absolut in the freezer and a crusty-capped bottle of Grand Marnier atop the fridge? Fret not. Sign up for How to Stock Your Home Bar & Throw a Cocktail Party, a two-hour intensive offered by the owners of Diamond. Josh Pape and Sophie Taverner spell out the basics and walk you through six basic cocktails. They’ll even send you home with recipe cards and a step-by-step guide. The Diamond, 6 Powell St.

Are you still happy to stash extra bottles in the laundry room? Or are you ready for proper wine storage? “If you’re exposing wine to extreme or fluctuating temperatures, ultraviolet light, vibration, or lack of humidity, you might want to think about a portable unit or a custom installation,” says Ramona Lehnert of Custom Cellars in Richmond. “All those things will harm the wine, and you end up thinking, ‘This isn’t very good,’ when it’s your own fault.” As for rookie cellaring mistakes, Frank Gigliotti of California Cult Classics tells us: “People buy a whole bunch of wine they love, cellar it for years, then find they no longer like it. Your palate changes over time. It’s like taking out a 10-year-old suit and realizing it no longer fits, and the lapels are too big.” Custom Cellars Inc., 2611 Viscount Way, Richmond, 604-278-8275.

Steaks seasoned? Veggies prepped? Barbecue ready? Oh yes, the spluttering barbecue. Now what? Take the beast to Johnstone’s in North Van. It’s a family business-Gary and wife Janice own it; sons Adam and Jamie work at the shop. They have a big indoor showroom and an outdoor kitchen showroom. They do repairs. They sell replacement parts. They’ll explain how to banish the spiders that nest in venturi tubes. A tip: spring is their busy time-May long weekend is crazy-so fire up your barbecue right now to see if it’s in working order. Johnstone’s Barbecues and Parts, 165 Pemberton Ave., North Van, 604-985-0234.

Other Rolodex-worthy experts who specialize in:

Getting Fit 
Fashionable Alterations
Greening Your Life
Who Ya Gonna Call?