Fernie Finest Chefs: Yan Therien

Like many of the chefs I know Yan started along the chef path early in life. The only difference is Yan was set on a career in politics and working in kitchens was merely a means to pay for the things he wanted. “I basically got my first job as a teenager, which happened to be in a kitchen the day I wanted the newest skate board and skate shoes,” explains Yan. And luckily for him, his first job was in the very high-end Le Mitoyen in Lavalle, Quebec. “I started like everyone, as a dishwasher and prep cook, and some of my jobs included cleaning oysters with a toothbrush, picking spinach from the on-site garden and plucking the recently slaughtered ducks that arrived with their feathers still on.” The restaurant which was part of the Chateau Relais group, a collection of the most beautiful restaurants and hotels around the world was very “old school” when it came to their processes, and Yan was grateful to have experienced this early in life, as it helped to shape his future.

While studying for a political science degree at university he gave up cooking for a while to concentrate on his political career. At 18 he was the youngest person to ever run for a seat in municipal politics in Quebec. He was the president of the student union and the vice president of the Student Federation of Quebec. He was also working for the provincial party Democratic Action of Quebec as a political aid in the Laval riding, writing speeches and organizing political campaigns for five candidates.

“I was well on my way to a career in politics, but after a few years I became disenchanted and decided to change my career path.” Yan enrolled in a professional cooking school and apprenticed at another high-end restaurant on St-Denis in Montreal, Le Toque while pursuing his Red Seal qualification.

From there Yan moved west and has had a number of interesting and diverse experiences including working in institutional kitchens, to the Banff Centre as a pastry chef where he was responsible for one of five restaurants. He ran his own “private chef” business, which brought him into client’s homes to cook for them and led to a gig catering the G8 summit in Kananaskis, 2002. He was head chef at Island Lake Lodge for four years, managed the food and beverage for Intrawest at Panorama, and was most recently part of the team at Picnic Restaurant and Social in Fernie. Yan is at the moment working on three future projects that all relate to food and cooking!

Yan’s Curried Potato Cakes with Raiita
2 potatoes (Bakers or kenebec)
1 clove garlic peeled
1 small shallot
2 large eggs
1 tbsp curry powder
1 tsp Cumin powder
2 tsp Olive oil
1 tsp butter
Salt & pepper
With the grating blade of a cheese grater or food processor shred the potatoes and mix in the eggs, spices, garlic and shallots. Season, and with your hands shape the potatoes into small disks. Heat up a frying pan to medium heat with olive oil and cook the cakes until golden brown, flip the cakes, add the butter and cook the other side. Finish in the oven for ten minutes at 395 degree F. Add a spoonful of raiita and enjoy. This is a great side for egg dishes.

For the raiita
1 cup of plain yogurt
2 tbsp white vinegar
1/2 cup of chopped mint
1/4 cup of chopped cilantro
Combine in a bowl mixing until blended. Refrigerate a few hour before serving.
Potato cakes can keep for a few days in the refrigerator.

Local Food News

Fernie Wine Club ~ Around the World Wine Tasting at Lizard Creek March 6 at 6pm, featuring chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon. Tickets on sale at Lizard Creek for $25, contact Corrine at 250-423-5023 for more details.

Loaf Bakery, Café & Pizzeria ~ Now offering its bread, pies and pastries at food outlets at the ski hill, Causeway Bay Hotel in Sparwood, Blue Toque, Corner Pocket restaurants, Park Place Lodge, St Eugene Golf Resort in Cranbrook and Centex in Kimberley amongst other local businesses.

The Fernie Hotel ~ $5 Ghostrider tickets with the purchase of an entrée are available, along with the Orphans’ Dinner on Sunday nights for $9, Fish & Chips on Fridays, and the weekly Meat Draw offering more prizes.

The Red Tree Lodge ~ Offering prime rib dinner for $17.95 Sundays, and Rotisserie Chicken on Friday and Saturdays. Regular menu items include fish and chips, ocean smart salmon and scallops, bison tenderloin, chicken, beef or vegetarian fajitas and wine specials daily.

The Old Elevator ~ Offering 25% off all appetizers from 5-6pm daily. Check out Chef Paul’s new dish, taking chocolate stout beer and transforming it into ice cream for a perfect après dinner treat!

Le Grand Fromage ~ Grand opening event March 12 from 4-7pm. Taste a variety of Canadian artisanal cheese, sample fondue and raclette dishes, and meet local cheese makers Denise and Wayne Harris from the Kootenay Alpine Cheese Co. in the Creston Valley.

Mezzaluna ~ Serving homemade meatballs for a traditional Italian Sunday night meal. In Italy, meatballs are known as polpette. In the Abruzzo region meatballs are the size of marbles called polpettine. At Mezzaluna they just call them delicious!