Erik Heck’s parents shared their passion for local and organic ingredients with their son. He took those lessons to heart. Erik was on the opening team for The Italian Kitchen as executive sous chef and earned a promotion to executive chef at Glowbal Grill. He made the decision to partner with John Crook to open up their first venture, The Flying Pig, and they now have three locations. And speaking of full circle, their new venture WildTale has just opened in the former Glowbal Grill space.
Q: What motivates and inspires you as a chef?
A: I’m always inspired by the freshest produce of the season, whether from land or sea. With The Flying Pig and WildTale being located here on the West Coast, we’re fortunate to have access to the best of the best.
A: I like to let the ingredients and natural flavours of the food speak for themselves. We have so many great local products to choose from living in B.C. I like to complement ingredients in subtle ways, allowing the natural flavours to shine through.
Q: What might diners not know about you?
A: I was born and raised in Vancouver and I have lived here my entire life — I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. I was locally trained in Vancouver and went to cooking school at VCC. Another thing people may not know about me is that my wife and I have three kids, including twins!
Q: Describe a couple of your most recent creations.
A: We just put Atlantic lobster rolls on the menu and people are loving them. Jen Crook, our wine director, is from PEI. I worked with her to recreate the coastal flavours of her hometown, bringing a taste of the East Coast out west. There is nothing more enjoyable than butter on perfectly toasted bread and packed with Atlantic lobster.
Q: What’s your favourite local product and how do you use it?
A: Geldermans Farms has the best pork, period. We use it in many different ways on our menus, from pork croutons to our maple & mustard crusted pork rack, and a weekly Sunday porchetta dinner feature at The Flying Pig.
Q: If there’s one important piece of advice you might have for home cooks, what might that be?
A: Don’t be afraid to try new things. From a home cook to an executive chef at a restaurant — confidence and skills in the kitchen build overtime. The trick is to put yourself out there. Eventually, those skills and confidence become second nature. Also, always have a sharp knife.
WildTale Haida Gwaii Halibut
1 cob sweet corn
2 tsp (10 mL) minced garlic, divided
1/2 cup (125 mL) white wine, divided
1 3/4 cups (430 mL) heavy cream
Salt and pepper
6 5-oz halibut fillets
4 cups (1 L) potato gnocchi
1/2 zucchini, diced
1 cup (250 mL) cherry tomatoes
1/2 head red kale, sliced
Juice from 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup (60 mL) unsalted butter
1/4 cup (60 mL) grated Parmesan cheese
Cut the corn off of the cob. Set 20 percent aside. In a saucepan on medium, warm 1 tsp (5 mL) vegetable oil and cook 1 tsp (5 mL) garlic. Quickly add corn niblets. Deglaze the pot with 1/4 cup (60 mL) wine. Reduce wine by half and add heavy cream. Cook for 15 min at a low simmer. Puree mixture using a blender, then add remaining corn niblets. Cook for 5 minutes and season to taste with salt and pepper. Loosen with water if it becomes too thick.
Preheat oven to 400°F (205°C). Season halibut with salt and pepper. In a large frying pan on high heat, add 1 tsp (5 mL) vegetable oil and place the fish in the pan. Cook for 2 minutes or until golden brown and flip the halibut over and cook for 1 more minute. Place the seared halibut on a baking sheet and place in oven for 5 minutes.
Cook the gnocchi according to package directions. Heat a large frying pan to high heat and add 1 tsp of vegetable oil. Carefully add gnocchi and cook til light brown and crispy. Add diced zucchini, tomatoes, kale and 1 tsp minced garlic. Cook vegetables for 1 minute and deglaze with remaining wine. Add lemon juice and butter. Toss mixture with Parmesan cheese. Season to taste. Serve fish over gnocchi mixture.
Makes 6 servings.