Exciting things are happening at Cook Culture! With our new Lonsdale store opening Saturday October 24th in North Vancouver, we’re excited to be adding more local chefs to our instructor roster. One of our newest additions is Chef Jonathan Chovancek.
Chef Jonathan, who is teaching classes mainly at the new Lonsdale Cook Culture, as well as a couple of classes in our Victoria Kitchen, comes to us with a rich history of accomplishments in a variety of culinary fields — Executive Chef at Vancouver’s Café Medina, Chef at notable Vancouver Island restaurants: The Aerie Resort, Sooke Harbour House and Zambri’s, international Chef for multiple Olympic games, host of the CBC television documentary Village on a Diet, contributor to multiple cookbooks, Chef de Cuisine at Culinary Capers catering and then co-owner of his own successful catering company Kale & Nori, and more recently co-creator of Bittered Sling Extracts, a small-batch cocktail and culinary bitters company he co-owns with his wife and business partner Lauren Mote, a powerhouse in her own right! (You can read more about Jonathan and Lauren here.)
With his many talents and multifaceted work history, Chef Jonathan joins us to teach everything from basic knife skills and introductory bootcamps to Levant cooking, a unique style of cuisine from the Eastern Mediterranean, focusing on Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and Jordan.
In addition to the cooking techniques Jonathan can teach us, we wanted to learn more about the chef himself, so we sat down to ask him a handful of questions
Q & A:
CC: Chef Jonathan, you’ve packed a lot of adventures into your career already—executive chef experience, international travel, entrepreneurship, mixology. What brings you to Cook Culture now for your next adventure in teaching?
JC: Great timing! I met CC owner Jed while I was cooking at Café Medina, and we hit it off and share a love of cuisine and people. I have taught professional and amateur cooks throughout my career and love the interaction and intimacy of small classes.
CC: What can we expect from your classes?
JC: I'm known for big, bold flavours from around the world using local and seasonal ingredients. All of the classes I will be teaching, The Levant, Knife Skills, Bootcamp (I am super excited about this one!) and Grains & Legumes classes will all be rooted in techniques and flavours of the world, funneled through the hands and mind of a Canadian Chef (me) and expressed in educational, fun and interactive hands-on cooking classes. Students will come away with great recipes and the ability to recreate the dishes we cook for their family and friends.
CC: You seem like a really passionate and enthusiastic person. What are you excited about RIGHT NOW?
JC: Right now, it is British Columbia harvest! We still have an incredible variety of vegetables coming in from the fields and trees, and we are seeing some incredible wild mushrooms. Fall marks a shift to heartier, longer-cooking dishes with massive flavours.
CC: Do you have a signature dish? If so, how does it capture “you” on a plate?
I think that my creativity is my signature—I certainly have cooked in a variety of styles and traveled through a myriad of countries to develop my palate and cuisine. Whereever I cook, it is very Bittered Sling.
CC: As a co-creator of Bittered Sling bitters, it seems obvious that your chef background would influence your concoction of bitters and the culinary applications you would envision for the different flavour profiles. Has there been any influence in the other direction? Has your work with bitters changed who you are as a chef?
JC: Totally, working in the spirits and beverage world in tandem with some of the world’s best bartenders has totally shaped how I cook and compose recipes. Having one of Canada's top beverage stars as my life and business partner has been the biggest and greatest influence on my cuisine. I am inspired and influenced by her every day. (I am talking about my wife, Lauren Mote.)
Note: Chef Jonathan’s Bittered Sling Extracts will be sold in Cook Culture’s retail stores in the near future! Stay tuned!