The title of Karen Barnaby’s ninth cookbook puts me in mind of the first time I encountered this chef’s food. It was my first visit to Vancouver’s Fish House in Stanley Park and it was deep in the 1990s. In retrospect, at the time Barnaby could only have been executive chef there for a couple, three years, at most. I ordered the cioppino, a special favorite of mine and one I’ve discovered is a good test of a chef whose work is new to you. It seems to me that a cioppino will show you something of a chef’s soul.
When my cioppino arrived that first night it took my breath away. For starters it was, quite simply, the loveliest food that had ever been set in front of me. At a glance it all looked perfectly cooked. But more: it was artfully presented. It was beautiful. Eating it brought no disappointments. I instructed my server to send compliments to the chef and after a while Barnaby appeared at our table. I supplicated accordingly, telling her just what I felt: that no one had ever served me food quite so lovely. She took these compliments as was her due: pleasantly but without surprise. One got the feeling she’d heard these effusions before.
The full review is here.