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By Maggie and Larry Burr - Vancouver
(Originally appeared in Wine, Food & Friends, Issue #95, Fall 2010)
Until the 1970’s, Vancouver’s dining scene was undistinguished. We had a few fine dining restaurants–think anniversaries, big dates–mostly French or German, as well as places to go for Mother’s Day or to take Grandma when she came to visit–mostly English-inspired. Wine was a rarity; a few restaurants offered a very small wine selection by the bottle, but hard liquor was the order of the day. For fun, the younger crowd would go to Chinatown for chow mein and chop suey. We would pile into one of the huge, unlicensed Chinese restaurants where the waiters turned a blind eye to your bottle under the table, and order a “set-up”–an empty glass and mixer of choice (remember rye and ginger or rum and coke). When the police raided the restaurant everyone could disavow any knowledge of how that bottle got there.
Bruno Marti was the third chef to arrive. Bruno’s contribution to Vancouver’s excellence cannot be overstated. Besides cooking for 35 years at his wonderful rural restaurant La Belle Auberge, he himself has won many competitions and also guided young chefs to medals; he is best known as the leading force of the Culinary Olympics.
These men, with their high standards of food, ambience and ser vice, created a tantalizing buzz of excitement around eating out, and attracted a large group of adventurous diners who dine out regularly and expect the highest quality in their restaurant experience. They encouraged, mentored and inspired a whole generation of young chefs, waiters and sommeliers who became “the second wave.”