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Ever wonder who pre-measures the ingredients and pre-cooks the dishes you see on tv cooking shows? Well now you get to meet one of them – Darlene Tanaka. Not only is she great at making a stage kitchen look like a real one, full of food that has been magically prepared, she also styles food for commercials, and works with cookbook authors on their press rounds.

Are there certain foods that remind you of home?
I grew up in Steveston and my family had a huge vegetable garden. My mom always had lots of fresh vegetable from the garden and froze lots for the winter. My father was a fisherman so we always had fresh seafood especially salmon. I love fresh seafood.

How did the food you grew up eating at home inform your cooking/food choices today?
I try to buy local produce when in season and encourage eating lots of fruits and vegetable to my family. I have never planted a vegetable garden at my own house but am planning one for next year. My mother still has a large vegetable garden, she grows vegetables for all of us.

Is there one thing you can’t live without in your kitchen?
Not really one thing I can’t live without can always find an alternative. However, having sharp knives does make cooking and preparing food alot easier.

What are you having for dinner tonight?
A friend is coming over for dinner with her 2 kids and we are having BBQ hamburgers. My most recent memorable meal was when we were in Bamfield visiting our friends Chris, Jan and Ben. We had seafood feast, fresh salmon, halibut, prawns and crab. The best part was that all the seafood was caught when we were out fishing.

This particular foodie interview is actually a foodie-bevvie combo, of a wonderful client of mine John Hunt, Manager of Firefly Fine Wines and Ales.  He is a self-proclaimed wine, beer and food geek, who loves to cook and entertain, play hockey, golf, curling, and holds music as a passion. I had the pleasure of photographing his store interior, and only at that point was introduced first-hand to the incredible variety of product they have available.

If you haven’t strolled by, read on to for a ‘free wine tasting’ invitation. Yes that’s right, free…wine…mmmm. And trust me, John as your host combined with an Enomatic Wine Tasting Machine it’s well worth it.


© 2008 Firefly Fine Wines and Ales

© 2008 Firefly Fine Wines and Ales

Is there a certain food or dish or drink that reminds you of home?

If it is a food- Raisin Pie!….does anyone even know that this exists? It’s a prairie thing having grown up in Saskatchewan…just try and order this in a restaurant….most of the younger generation have never heard of it.

What is the ideal ‘John beverage’ ?

Tough question for me…in our business we get exposed to a ton of products and there is a lot to like. I suppose what started it all was Oregon Pinot Noir a lot of years ago…I long for one of the old style Pinots that they used to make…you could taste the dirt the vines were grown in right inside the glass.

What do you recommend for someone looking to try something new that can be found at Firefly?

The Enomatic Wine Tasting Machine…only the Italians can do it this good and with great style. We always have 8 bottles going in the machine….”try before you buy” is our motto with the machine….you must come by and taste (it’s free by the way)….just seeing the machine blows most people away.

Without naming any names and being possibly one of the most up-to-date people in the city on what new beers & wines are out there, what words do you have to describe the beverage menus in the majority of Vancouver restaurants at the moment?

In the upper to mid end restaurants excellent….lots of attention to pairing and trying to create products that work with the menu…beyond that those offering food should consult a sommelier….the time spent doing that will pay big dividends and it’s not about high priced products…it’s about choosing products that really work with the menu and being creative in choosing….don’t be afraid of “Spec” products…after that get the government out of the way so the customer can choose what he wants from around the world….we’re tired of being told what to choose by people who know nothing about customer service.

I have never really got into video…one may think if the technicalities of still photography are understood, those of video should be simple to grasp, but I subscribe to the theme of sticking to what you know, so when I met Chad Galloway, video artist extraordinaire, I was thrilled.  He’s talented, easy going, and committed to his craft.  He describes himself as a a Vancouver based shooter/cutter who’s loving the sun this summer with a one year old and a brand new (to me) bike!

Our next photo-video-combo-shoot together will be a two-day project for Herder Winery & Vineyards, a fabulous wine made by an amazing down to earth couple who are truly passionate about what they do. More on that to come later.

For now, here is a little bit about Chad…

Is there a certain food or dish that reminds you of home?

You know, this is really going to sound trailer park but I love my Mom’s tuna casserole!  She’s going to kill me because she is an amazing talent in the kitchen and makes so many great things and this one calls for two cans of Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom dumped into the pan!  But there’s just something so amazing about this dish that every time I have it I am 6 years old again, with my legs dangling off the chair.  It takes me to another world.  And it’s super delicious as well!

Is there one thing you can’t live without in your kitchen?

Yep, her name is Jenny!  Jenny is my partner of 4 years and she’s without a doubt the best thing in our kitchen.  She’s amazing and teaches me everything from how to reduce sauces and make delicious Mexican dishes.  It helps that she’s Mexican!  Right now she’s editing delicious food videos for a site called so she comes home from work inspired and whips up the most amazing pasta dish or creme
brule!  So yeah, everyone should have a Jenny in the kitchen!

What are you having for dinner tonight?

Tonight we’re having some friends over so I’ve been marinating some steaks in a simple but delicious soy sauce and honey garlic marinade. We’ll do them on the the grill with some potatoes and corn on the cob

for sides.  Fast easy and a great excuse to be outside drinking beer with friends!

Is there one food that gives you the heebie jeebies?

Well now that I’ve been living in Vancouver for a few years I don’t bat an eye at eel sushi or octopus soup anymore.  But I’d be hard pressed to sit in front of a plate of liver.  Even the name – liver.  It just sounds gross.

I asked a fellow foodie-on-the-rise and marketing consultant expert Sara Pereira, Owner of Sara Pereira: Marketing & Communications to indulge our readers in her favorite foods.

A Vancouver-based boutique marketing and communications firm, Sara offers a full range of services including public and media relations, marketing management, event planning and sponsorship, strategic planning, and brand development. Sara and her team work closely and on a personal basis with clients to provide creative and effective strategies for their business. As Sara puts it “The Scoop: Our business allows us to get to know a range of people, stories and businesses across industries. We love to identify company’s messages and then help them get those messages out into the world in the most creative way possible.”

Sara Pereira ~ Marketing Expert
Is there a certain food or dish that reminds you of home?

My background is Portuguese and I grew up in a small northern town in BC with a large community of Portuguese people. Anything with the flavours and smells of Portuguese food reminds me of family gatherings and being at home. Simple fresh breads and cheeses as well as fresh garden greens remind me of my grandmother’s home. Paprika, kale and any kind of seafood are familiar favourites for me.

What is your favourite comfort food?

My comfort foods are fresh breads and cheeses. Let us not forget about the ultimate, however, ice cream and chocolate. I am particularly picky with these two favourites however, and appreciate high quality chocolate and only the best ice cream. Even as a child, I never really liked the cheap stuff with the wooden stick for a spoon!

Is there one thing you can’t live without in your kitchen?

Fresh herbs and spices. What a treat that we live with the most fragrant and flavorful herbs and spices at our finger tips. The possibilities, combinations and flavour adventures are endless! A close second, would be high quality extra virgin olive oil.

What are you having for dinner tonight?

Italian food – tonight, I dining with my grandfather at the newest addition to the Glowbal Group of Restaurants, Trattoria Italian Kitchen. I am looking forward to the bruschetta, which has come highly recommended.

Is there one food that gives you the heebie jeebies?

I cannot eat ground meat. It has been this way since I was a small child. Something about the texture just doesn’t jive for me. As you can imagine this makes any sort of dinner party, birthday or bbq quite difficult. No hamburgers, spaghetti and meatballs or lasagna for me!

To start off our interview series (and yes, the interviews are all about food with a dash of personality) I asked my client Meghan O’Connell, Graphic Designer + Image Editor extraordinarie at Farmboy Fine Arts, about her memories and favorite food experiences.

This is Meghan!

How did the food you grew up eating at home inform your cooking/food choices today?

My parents always cooked meals together in our house, an all of us always sat down to dinner together. We had a big garden in the backyard, so in the summer we would have all sorts of delicious things, like sweet corn, tomatoes, lettuce, sugar snaps, green beans, etc. We also had several fruit trees, so that allowed me to stay outside and play longer, just snacking on cherries, gooseberries and apricots throughout the day. I think it made my dad proud to be able to grow so much of our food. We rarely if ever had pre-packaged food, like frozen meals, and that is something that I carried into adulthood.

What is the ideal Meghan meal?

I like to try little bits of everything, so I LOVE potlucks. I especially love potlucks thrown by older ladies, because you get all the relics like deviled eggs, Swedish meatballs and home-cooked baked beans. If it’s got a toothpick in it I’m happy.

Is there one thing you can’t live without in your kitchen?

I’m from Wisconsin, so it’s no surprise that this would be cheese.

What are you having for dinner tonight?

I’ve got a friend in town today, so he may have to experience a Japadog. Otherwise we’ll probably make spaghetti and meatballs together.

What’s the most memorable meal you’ve ever had?

I have had many, but one that stands out is from the last time I went to Mexico. I had a grilled swordfish with pomegranate and pistachios, and for dessert had a deliciously rich Mexican hot chocolate. YUM!