Lifestyle

FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Gudrun chef puts on a one-woman show

Allison Flook, chef at Gudrun.  -
Allison Flook, chef at Gudrun.
— image credit:

On a Saturday night, I head to Steveston, more particularly I head down an alley in Steveston to Gudrun. I’m meeting friend Lynn and arrive first.

I take a seat at the bar beside Mas, a familiar face to anyone who hangs out in Steveston. He’s drinking an India Pale Ale (Gudrun has one of the best selections of beers and wines), so I order the same. We chat. I say hi to Bert, another familiar face in Steveston. I don’t think I’ve ever been to Gudrun and not known someone.

Meanwhile, I take a closer look at what’s considered the kitchen, behind the bar, in about as much space as a walk-in pantry. It starts with a fridge—behind the glass door I spy the Oyama dried and cured meats, bowls and containers of mushroom bisque, and more. On the counter: a double sink, cheese cutter, knives hang along the wall, a salad spinner, cutting board, meat slicer, Panini machine, and an induction cooktop. Mason jars line the shelves, filled with dried apple rings, apricots, beans, lentils, and other staples.

Flanked by the tools of her trade stands chef Allison Flook, dressed in a white shirt emblazoned with “Gudrun” and a headband circling her short blond hair. She’s plating salads with her finds from Granville Island public market: fingerling potatoes and arugula (“because it looked so good”).

Then she turns her attention to building a cheese and charcuterie platter: Oyama cured meats, a selection of cheeses, olives, cornichons, pistachios, plums, quince paste, mustard. Thinly sliced sfilatino (an Italian wet bread baquette) lines a basket.

Allison, formerly of Havana Café, Alibi Room, and Lolita’s, turns to the slicer, then to the sizzling Oyama bacon (for the salad of the day). She’s mastered the art of cooking in small places. I’m reminded of a ship’s galley, everything organized and within reach.

Lynn arrives. “Do you have low-fat cheese?”

Allison doubles over with laughter. She suggests Shropshire Blue as she pours melted cheese into a fondue pot.

We order Allison’s famous veal sliders, topped with blue cheese, her house-made onion jam and watercress. We order a second round of sliders.

Gudrun, named after a Norwegian woman who owner Patrick Tubajon (Steveston grad 1985) met in France 20 years ago (she showed him that cheese was more than a Kraft single), has won several awards since opening in late 2008. In 2009 the tasting room won the Golden Plate award for best new restaurant in the suburb. More recently, Richmond readers voted Gudrun as one of the best for beer selection, wine selection, lounge, and for a first date in the Best of Richmond issue.

Thanks to Allison who uses the freshest ingredients, talks to the farmers and fishermen, and every day tells Patrick what to write on the giant chalkboard.

As Lynn and I finish our sliders, we watch Allison plate milk and dark chocolate mousse with cinder toffee, then a vanilla panna cotta with mango and blackberry. More charcuterie and cheese platters, more fondue, more salads. Jazz plays. The communal table is full—a birthday party.  Allison, cool and calm, listens to our crazy conversation, and shakes her head. She doesn’t stop, hands in motion from knife to pan to plate.

Gudrun

•150 - 3500 Moncton St., Steveston

•604 272 1991

•www.gudrun.ca

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