A Walk to the Market

Torafuku's chef Clement Chan talks using local ingredients to inspire his new menu.
Torafuku recently celebrated its three year anniversary, which is basically the equivalent of 10 years in restaurant years. To celebrate, Chef Clement Chan revamped the menu with more sophisticated and adventurous dishes using seasonal agreements from the local farmers market.

Every Wednesday Chan grabs a few bins and leaves his bustling kitchen to take the short walk from Torafuku (958 Main Street) to the Main St. Farmers Market in front at the train station. He picks up a box of vegetables from Sole Food Street Farm and throws in some radish for good measure.

Chef Clement Chan. Photo: Abby Wiseman / Small Batch Vancouver

“I like coming down here and meeting the people who are selling because you build a relationship and they get to know the face that is using their product,” said Chan. “You sometimes get perks, like our fruit guy has a side stash that he lets us pick through, but when I first started I didn’t get that treatment.”

Chan was deeply influenced by Chef James Wall formerly of Blue Water Café and Chef Sean Cousins, who were deeply inspired by local ingredients. When it came time to open his own food truck, he wanted to do the same.

“We were using what we could afford to be local and seasonal,” said Chan. “When we opened the restaurant, I wanted it to be the same, but with the price of labor going up and more competition, it was really hard for me to control what I could use and it wasn’t as flexible.”

Chan’s new menu lets him be more flexible, which also allows him to incorporate more local seasonal ingredients.

“I’ve based the menu off what is in season” said Chan. “I think it’s definitely exciting at this stage because when you go into work every day and it’s the same routine, it gets boring. Some people like that, but I do not.”

“Sometimes there’s a lot of pressure to come up with a special, but it actual pushes us too because we have to hit the books a little harder and brainstorm more.”

Chan’s favourite growers right now are Hannah Brook Farm for tomatoes and carrots, Klippers Organics for stone fruit, and Sole Food Street Farm, which employs people with barriers to employment like mental health issues and addictions.

“It’s nice to see the smaller guys expanding now because of the support,” said Chan. “Sole Foods is a huge one because they were a small little farm down Pacific Boulevard about half a year ago and now they have upped it and it’s nice that local restaurants and entrepreneurs are supporting them.”

Chan’s market finds are showcased in Asian fusion dishes like 24 Carrot Gold with baby carrots, mushroom, potatoes and spinach. The Rocket Salad with arugula from UBC Farm and The Dirty Bird chicken liver paté with apricot puré

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Excellent work. Well done you. Bravo.

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