Meet the chef: Cam Hunter has local flavours on tap

Cam Hunter recently joined the team at Geo Cider Co. in Squamish as executive chef, where he is creating dishes that complement the eight flavours of cider on tap.

Cam Hunter is the chef at Geo Cider Co. in Squamish. handout / PNG

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Chef Cam Hunter got hooked on cooking at the age of 15 working his first summer job at a burger restaurant in Ontario. After earning Red Seal certification as both a chef and a baker, he moved to the West Coast in 2008, starting in Furry Creek then landing a gig as the opening Chef at The Joinery. He recently joined the team at Geo Cider Co. in Squamish as executive chef, where he is creating dishes that complement the eight flavours of cider on tap.

Q: What motivates and inspires you as a chef?

A: Cooking fresh seasonal ingredients. British Columbia is an amazing place surround by the best produce, seafood, and proteins.

Q: How would you describe the type of food you like to cook?

A: I love cooking comfort foods, dishes that invoke emotions or memories of experiences or travels.

Q: What might diners not know about you?

A: I was a professional snowboard photographer for 5 years and have a degree in photography.

Q: Describe a couple of your most recent creations.

A:  My favourite dishes on the menu right now are the crab doughnuts and the blackened cauliflower. The crab doughnuts are inspired by a trip to San Francisco where we stumbled upon an amazing restaurant in Sausalito and had the most amazing crab doughnuts — these are my take on the trip and experience. The blackened cauliflower comes from too many bad cauliflower appies. I wanted to create a great vegan cauliflower appetizer.

Q: What’s your favourite local product and how do you use it?

A: It’s hard to name one, but being a chef at a cidery has definitely pushed me to use local apples a lot. I’ve been incorporating them into everything.

Q: What is one important piece of advice you might have for home cooks?

A: Read everything you can, and eat everything you can. Food is an amazing experience. There are so many amazing resources and restaurants don’t limit yourself to what you know and like, expand and explore.

Blackened Cauliflower

1 head cauliflower

3 tbsp (45 mL) Cajun spice

1 tsp (5 mL) canola oil

¼ cup (60 mL) chick peas

1 tsp (5 mL) canola oil

1 cup (250 mL) arugula

2 tbsp (30 mL) lemon vinaigrette

3 tbsp (45 mL) chimichurri sauce

Lemon vinaigrette 

2 lemons zested and juiced

¼ cup (60 mL) white wine vinegar

1 tsp (5 mL) Dijon mustard

1 cup (250 mL) olive oil

Salt, to taste

Pepper, to taste

Chimichurri 

1 shallot fine dice

1/2 jalapeno, seeded and fine dice

1 minced garlic clove

1 cup (250 mL) cilantro, chopped

1/2 cup (125 mL) parsley, chopped

1/4 cup (60 mL) red wine vinegar

1/2 cup (125 mL) canola oil

Salt, to taste

Pepper, to taste

Cut head of cauliflower into 1-inch (2.5 cm) thick steaks, drizzle with canola and rub Cajun spice into both sides, and set aside.

Vinaigrette: Zest and juice lemons into a bowl, remove any seeds.  Place lemon juice, zest and Dijon and vinegar into a blender, turn on medium and slowly add oil to blender, season with salt and pepper. Set aside and clean blender.

Chimichurri: Dice the shallot, jalapeno, and garlic, add to blender, chop herbs and add to blender with vinegar, with blender on medium add oil slowly until smooth sauce is formed. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

To prepare the dish you need 2 frying pans. Preheat oven to 375 F (190 C).  Heat the first pan with a small amount of oil until it starts to smoke, add your cauliflower and sear on one side for 3 minutes or until blackened, turn carefully and sear the other side for 3 minutes, put in oven for 10-12 minutes until softened.

In the other pan, heat a small amount of oil and add chickpeas season with salt and pepper, cook for about 4 minutes, add 2 tbsp (30 mL) of lemon vinaigrette and the arugula, remove from heat and toss until slightly wilted.

Remove cauliflower from oven. To plate, arrange chickpeas and arugula in the centre of plate and place cauliflower over top. Drizzle chimichurri sauce around and over cauliflower, season with a little salt and pepper.

Serves 6 as an appetizer

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