Interview with Andrea Carlson, Executive Chef of Burdock and Co.
--> The following interview was made possible by the NW Tastemaker, a culinary travel publication forthcoming from Northwest Travel Magazine. To read more interviews with the best chefs in the Pacific Northwest, visit Northwest Travel Magazine and TableTalkNorthwest.com.
Andrea Carlson, Executive Chef of Burdock and Co.
Chef Andrea Carlson is a chef who helped make locavore dining affordable in Vancouver. Originally from Toronto, she didn't spend much time in the kitchen as a kid, but upon purchasing a New York Times cookbook at the age of 13, she was hooked. After graduating from Dubrulle Culinary School, she cooked at Raincity Grill, Sooke Harbour House, and Bishop's, and in these establishments, she learned just how many delicious things grow within a hundred miles of the Vancouver. Chef Carlson quickly developed lasting relationships with farmers, both near Vancouver and in downtown itself.
In 2013, she opened Burdock and Co. with the goal of serving seasonal, locally inspired dishes for mid-market prices. The B.F.C. Spicy Burdock Fried Chicken, which comes with crunchy, house-made kimchi, is $16, and the Crispy Pig Face Ramen, which touts a smoked chili broth, is $14. Chef Carlson continues to find inspiration for her dishes through her obsession with gardening and taking long hikes just outside of Vancouver.
1. How do you describe Northwest cuisine?
I think Northwest cuisine has a rich diversity of offerings. We have a temperate climate, abundant natural landscapes and access to ocean and lakes. Our palates have matured, and cultural influences have further shaped our coastal identity. The locavore movement has grown our knowledge of foraging and local product, and we have countless culinary resources available to us. Chefs are making the best use of all that we have.
2. Who are six of your favorite purveyors that you regularly work with?
Mikuni Wild Harvest
Hazelmere Organic Farm— Naty King runs one of BC's oldest organic farms, and she has an eye toward working directly with chefs to provide excellent products.
Urban Digs— One of the many new small urban farms who, in addition to veggies, raise ethical meats. They also offer an innovate 'beastie box' C.S.A., which we sell at our sister shop, Harvest Community Foods Grocer.
Glorious Organics— They have long set the standard for the finest organic produce and gorgeous flowers, roots and everything in-between.
SOLEfood Farm— An innovation and socially responsible Vancouver Downtown East Side urban agriculture project. They provide job training and employment to folks in the neighbourhood with barriers to employment, as well as access to fresh food.
East Van Roasters— 8
3. When you go out for a nice meal, what are two or three of your favorite spots?
I'm really enjoying Ask For Luigi's. It's a really beautiful, intimate spot for delicious pastas.
Vij's is a vancouver classic, serving always excellent Indian food with exceptional service.
Cinara— Chef Lukas's recently opened Italian restaurant. I've had some outstanding dishes there.
4. Who are two other Northwest chefs that you admire?
Robert Belcham— He's an amazing chef and mentor. His restaurant Campagnolo has long had the strongest charcuterie program in town, and his down-to-earth nature makes him an inspiring business leader as well.
5. In your opinion, is there an area of Northwest cooking that doesn't receive enough attention?
I think we have a strong naturopathic and holistic community in the area. I think our health-conscious community would benefit from greater influence from cooks in these fields. I also think that we need to continue to have a greater spotlight on sustainability, especially oceans. It cannot be emphasized enough.
6. Looking toward the future, what are you most excited to do in the kitchen?
Product Diversity. I get excited looking at the potential for creating different product lines, whether it's gluten free bread or a tasty nougat. We're seeing a tonne of new local food startups, and it's giving consumers delectable choices they've never had before. Beyond knowing your farmer at the market, now you can know the origin of your sea chi (kelp kim chi) and freshly brewed ginger beer.
Burdock and Co.
2702 Main Street
Vancouver, BC V5T 3E8