The Observatory

Located in the Peak Chalet at Grouse Mountain, the Peak of Vancouver, The Observatory Restaurant menu typifies prime seasonal ingredients and reflects the food philosophy of its Executive Chef, Brendan Robson.

 

We caught up with Brendan and persuaded him to tell us more…

 

You worked here previously, right? So, what drew you back?

Brendan:
I had the opportunity to come back to an establishment that shares my philosophy of food – sustainability, local partnerships and communities. I have the freedom here at The Observatory to do whatever I choose with full support of the management.

 There is a ‘farm-to-table’ feel about the restaurant…

Brendan:
Definitely, definitely… I have brought it back to what I tried to establish the first time – everything that goes on to a plate has a story behind it. I know my pig farmer, my neighbour supplies our salmon…

So, it’s all within arm’s reach?

Brendan:
Yeah, I even take my kids to the pig farm so they can learn all about where their food comes from!

Locally farmed squash soup at The Observatory
local fresh ingredients at The Observatory

What changed while you were away, and what were you pleased to see had stayed the same?

Brendan:
The main thing I noticed was volume – the restaurant had gotten so much busier than I remember? Every restaurant has chefs that come and go, and each with their own style of course, but The Observatory had gone away from the local farm, sustainable approach, so I brought that back.

One thing I am glad did not change is some of the people. For sure, I couldn’t run an operation like this without their support!

If you could name one thing, one item or one person (or all of them), that has influenced your style in the kitchen, what would that be and why?

Brendan:
I think my style started to change when I left the big corporate hotels and started working in smaller establishments. There are a few chefs that come to mind, guys who had passion for what they were doing – Grant Perry from Calgary or Max Ridorsi who is now up at Pemberton – not famous chefs by any means, but just good! The passion was there and you pick it up.

So those individuals are your biggest influences?

Brendan:
I guess my biggest influence would be mass farming and knowing it’s not what I want to put into my body or my kids’ or my guests’ for that matter! I want to know that they are eating clean good food.

What do you love most about being a chef?

Brendan:
Now? Being creative, teaching. Teaching young chefs and seeing them succeed is really rewarding. The relationships I have? Yes, I guess the relationships I make with people, this is my favourite part of being a chef!

Now that you are Executive Chef, what changes should we look out for at The Observatory, if any?

Brendan:
We have started with changes already! We want to make it more comforting. For 40/50 years it has been known as a ‘fine dining’ establishment, not that this is going away, but we want to make it more approachable.

If you want to come in and have a glass of wine and five courses of food, then that’s fine. But if you want to come in your jeans and have a craft beer and some good food, then that’s fine too! We want to make it less stuffy with the food, the room and the plateware – the whole experience!