Shop with a Chef: Don Letendre, Elixir

At age 15, Don Letendre was washing dishes at a restaurant in Port Moody, a job he took to get out of the house. He worked his way into a chef’s uniform at Cafe Bibbers under the watchful eye of mentor Alain Fevre. “My mother was not a good cook,” he recalls, “so it took a few years in the kitchen before I developed my palate.” During a stint at Tokyo’s Domani Cucina, he learned to seek input from everyone in the kitchen. “No dish was served until everyone agreed it was ready. You perfected the recipe before serving anything to the customers.” At Elixir in the Opus Hotel, Letendre applies this team approach to his Asian-influenced menu. Fresh albacore for tuna tataki comes from 7Seas (2328 W. Fourth Ave., 604-732-8608., as does black cod. Letendre also loves Finest at Sea (4675 Arbutus St., 604-266-1904., the boutique market co-owned by Bruno Born, formerly of Bruno’s, Le Coq d’Or, and Sausi’s. “FAS is committed to responsible, sustainable fishing, and because their catch is frozen fresh they offer some of the best product in the city at any time of the year.” For quality meats, he uses West Vancouver’s Sebastien & Co. (2425 Marine Dr., 604-925-1636., where organic cuts are dry-aged 21 to 40 days to produce intense flavour and exquisite tenderness. Biovia (1449 Powell St., 604-633-9588), a distributor for local farms, provides Letendre’s kitchen with fresh, local produce daily. He’s also a fan of organic supplier SPUD (, whose deliveries help him cook for the home team too: “I have two young daughters with palates just waiting to be developed.”