Score one for Vancouver: Chef Jesse Grasso, most recently Head Chef of Toronto’s acclaimed The Black Hoof, is returning to the left coast to take on the post of Executive Chef at the recently-opened Supermarine.
Grasso, who has worked in Vancouver before at spots like Bao Bei, La Quercia, and Abigail’s Party–the latter which was in the space that’s now Supermarine, making this a double homecoming of sorts–will also serve as Development Chef for all restaurants owned and operated by Gooseneck Hospitality (Pizzeria Bufala, Wildebeest).
We got in touch with Grasso to ask about what foods he’ll be cooking up at Supermarine, and what he’s excited to check out himself now that he’s back in B.C.
Welcome back! What are you most looking forward to about cooking and living in Vancouver again?
Jesse Grasso: I’m really excited about just being back in the community of restaurants here, where there’s a lot of support from your peers when your doing something cool and good. I think it’s too easy to take the for granted.
What bars, restaurants, and other food-related spots are you looking forward to checking out?
It’s really fun for me right now because a lot of both back-of-house and front-of-house people that I’ve known for years are all getting to the point where they’re starting to open their own places. It’s pretty rad when people you’ve seen grow for years get to that point. Other than that, I’ve been dying to eat pasta from La Quercia, because [Chef] Adam [Pegg] is a wizard. Also really stoked for reasonably priced good sushi again..and Malaysian food that I don’t have to drive an hour for!
Is there anything from your experience in Toronto that has profoundly influenced your cooking or your perspective about food?
Absolutely. I think the whole experience in general will shape my cooking for years to come. I think seeing the way a bigger city like Toronto eats, versus a smaller city, was really interesting. It’s easier to take bigger chances there, I think, but it also makes me see where Vancouver can go. They’re very different scenes, and I think coming back to Vancouver, after cooking [in Toronto] for three years, puts me at a strong advantage.
The Black Hoof is a very meat-centric menu, while Supermarine is seafood-focused. What ingredients are you excited to be working with? How are you tailoring your approach to the menu?
I think it’s still easy to approach a menu from the same way, regardless of the raw ingredients. With the Hoof, I was only really ever able to do a couple seafood and vegetable dishes at a time, so I’m excited about using a lot of ideas I’ve been holding onto. Obviously I’m also really stoked about west coast seafood, and how fresh it will all be.
What can we expect from your menu at Supermarine?
Fun, playful seafood. Using great ingredients but not taking ourselves too seriously. A lot of very familiar flavours, but new ways of presenting them sometimes.
Supermarine is also known for their exciting cocktail program. What are your thoughts on pairings, or cooking to complement the drinks?
I’ll very much be working with Josh [Pape, Supermarine’s co-owner] and the bartenders there to make sure some of the food is very cocktail friendly. We’re planning on introducing some late night exclusive dishes, that will all be really fun drinking snacks.
Look for Grasso’s new menu to debut soon at Supermarine.
Address: 1685 Yew Street