Inspired Ingredients: A Walk in the Market with Chuck Hughes

Chuck Hughes

The following article was contributed by Sonu Purhar, Travel Media Relations Specialist at Tourism Vancouver.

Granville Island is Vancouver’s definitive artistic oasis, attracting more than 12.2 million visitors every year – many of whom spend hours exploring the island’s central hub, the Public Market. This sprawling labyrinth pulses with life and sensation: the heady aroma of fresh-baked bread and pungent cheeses; friendly entreats from fishmongers and butchers; and the vibrant colours of fresh, seasonal produce sprouting from dozens of greengrocer carts and ethnic food stands.

One of the best ways to experience this food haven is taking Edible BC’s Granville Island Market Tour, which offers an insider’s perspective of the Market’s history and best shopping venues. Montreal-born chef Chuck Hughes, host of the Food Network’s deliciously addictive show Chuck’s Day Off, joined me for the tour on March 16 – just days before his victorious cook-off against veteran chef Bobby Flay aired on Iron Chef America. As Edible BC guide Kath Reuben led us through the bustling aisles of Granville Island’s culinary wonderland, Chuck dished about his foodie inspirations, the cooking trick he learned at the Market and why he loves Vancouver.

Tourism Vancouver: What inspires your dishes?

Chuck Hughes: Life in general decides the menu. I might see a purple car and think, “Hm, maybe I’ll do eggplant today.” I’m inspired by travel, news, even sports. That creativity is what I love most about cooking: taking from everything around you and making it your own.  

TV: Here at the Public Market, we’re surrounded by Vancouver’s finest produce, cheeses and meats. Which of these ingredients particularly appeals to you?

CH: I actually really enjoyed the tea session [at Granville Island Tea Company]. I love to drink tea but I don’t know much about it. When Mark [the owner] pulled out a smoky tea and told me he uses it in his cooking, I was blown away. Now I finally know what to do with all that unused tea I have at home!  

TV: What’s your favourite Vancouver restaurant?

CH: Whenever I come to Vancouver, I always want sushi. Local mom-and-pop restaurants are another favourite; the less fireworks, the better.

TV: How is Vancouver distinctive among the many culinary hotspots around the world? CH: The bounty of ingredients here is incredible. That’s why chefs and other industry members around the world are so jealous of Vancouverites: you’re right on the ocean, you have such great farmland and your ingredients are top-notch. Just taking this tour through the Market shows how much Vancouver has to offer . . . wait, why am I not opening a restaurant here?

Inspired? Edible BC’s Granville Island Market Tour costs $35 per person and lasts two hours. To book or for more information, call 604.812.9660, or email events@ediblebritishcolumbia.com.

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