The origin story of Railtown’s charming Mackenzie Room is one of deep family ties, a love story, and a little bit of East Coast meets West Coast transplant-ism. The restaurant’s owners, Andrew and Katie Jameson, are Vancouverites who once worked together at Toronto’s acclaimed Richmond Station restaurant.
When the couple returned to Vancouver they started a family, and a business; The Mackenzie Room, in turn, is a business that is undeniably fuelled by family.
Named for Andrew’s great-great grandfather, William Mackenzie (a legend in the railway industry), the welcoming space boasts furniture culled from their own family attics, and a thoughtful menu of seasonally-driven dishes that celebrate the local bounty as well as a humble approach to cooking.
Doing the cooking is the restaurant’s partner Sean Reeve, who you may recognize from his win on Chopped Canada. His playful and creative style of cooking has drawn raves, including from yours truly; The Mackenzie Room was a shoo-in for my Best new restaurants in Vancouver in 2015 list.
Over at the stoves at Richmond Station is Carl Heinrich, winner of Top Chef Canada‘s second season. These two culinary stars have never worked together, but the Mackenzie Room will be the set of a unique reunion, as the restaurant welcomes Heinrich on October 4, 2016, for a collaborative dinner he’ll prepare alongside Reeve, as part of EAT! Vancouver‘s exciting lineup of Dinner Series events.
With room for just 46 guests, this intimate family-style meal is a rare chance for Reeve and Heinrich to share the kitchen, and for diners in Vancouver to taste Heinrich’s food.
For Heinrich, it’s a terrific chance to draw exposure to Richmond Station while being all the way on the other side of the country. Heinrich explains that he enjoys doing collaboration dinners, and participates in several each year. “It gives us the ability to see someone else’s food , how they run their kitchen, but also to showcase what we do,” he says via telephone.
“[Collaborating] is not done nearly enough,” reflects Reeve, sitting down to chat at The Mackenzie Room. The chef says he delights in this opportunity to work with a chef he respects and “can have fun with.”
Because Reeve and Heinrich share a similar philosophy about cooking with fresh, locally-sourced products, the key to the meal, says Reeve, is to “allow the ingredients to speak for themselves.”
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“We come from different backgrounds in terms of our styles,” adds Reeve, “but where we merge is in our respect for the ingredients and using what’s in season.”
What will be in season come the first days of October remains to be seen, thanks to that little wildcard factor known as weather. Fowl, game, and nuts are fall staples Reeve says could play a role in the meal–but regardless, both chefs are committed to offering diners a thoughtful progression from beginning to end, and a real exploration of what’s local.
“We’re going to focus on bringing a lot of flavour onto the plate,” assures Heinrich. “Big bold bites, food that’s cooked whole, rubbed down, cooked in a slow oven–pretty rustic, and it’s always fun to cook like that.”
Reeve adds that maybe a bit of summer might sneak into the meal, thanks to the team at The Mackenzie Room working hard these warmer months to do a lot of preserving.
“We’re going to have fun with it, and see what Mother Nature allows us to utilize,” jokes Reeve.
While it might be tempting to frame this dinner as an East Coast versus West Coast showdown, with Heinrich having spent time living and working in Vancouver and on Vancouver Island, and with his reunion with the Jamesons, it’s a homecoming without the rivalry.
And it also might be tempting to imagine Heinrich packing his bags in Toronto full of foods that represent Ontario, but that’s not how it’s going to go down. “I want to try to do it all fresh there,” Heinrich says, adding that what might represent Richmond Station in BC would be the charcuterie in which they take so much pride at the popular Toronto restaurant.
“I think it will to be a great evening where we can showcase the best of both worlds…what they do at Richmond Station and what we do here at The Mackenzie Room,” says Reeve. “I’m looking forward to seeing how it comes to be, how we figure it all out.”
Get your seat at the table at The Mackenzie Room for this exciting collaborative dinner, taking place on Tuesday, October 4 at 7 pm. Additionally, both Reeve and Heinrich will join their peers at the all-star Harvest gala. Tickets to all the EAT! Vancouver events, including the Harvest event and the Dinner Series, are available online.
Daily Hive is proud to be the exclusive media sponsor of EAT! Vancouver 2016