Chef de Cuisine Ken Hookham on the roof top garden at the Fairmont Empress Hotel. Don Denton photograph

Chef de Cuisine Ken Hookham on the roof top garden at the Fairmont Empress Hotel. Don Denton photograph

Chef Ken Hookham is inspired by the Pacific Northwest

The Chef de Cuisine for Q at the Empress Hotel uses local ingredients

  • Oct. 22, 2018 12:30 p.m.

– Story by Angela Cowan

Story courtesy of Boulevard Magazine, a Black Press Media publication

Like Boulevard Magazine on Facebook and follow them on Instagram

Ken Hookham is Chef de Cuisine for Q at the Empress at Victoria’s Fairmont Empress Hotel – an award-winning signature restaurant that defines the destination. Ken takes his culinary inspiration from the Pacific Northwest region and its abundance of local ingredients, celebrating the amazing farmers, foragers and artisans that make Vancouver Island so unique. Chef Hookham takes great pleasure in allowing the local offerings — from vegetables to seafood — to guide him in telling an authentically island culinary story.

Quick Facts;

• Born and raised in Thunder Bay, Ontario.

• Did his classical training at Vancouver Community College and apprenticed under Chef Robert Le Crom at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver.

• Chef de Cuisine at Q at the Empress since February, 2018.

What are you best known for as a chef? Letting the natural ingredients shine. I feels as chefs, we can sometimes overthink things and play with food too much. I enjoy dishes that truly just let the flavours speak for themselves and celebrate what our region has to offer.

What are the 10 or so most important ingredients in your pantry? Empress honey, Salt Spring Sea Salt, Noble Tonic 03: Maple Sherry Vinegar, verjus, Olive the Senses olive oil, juniper berries, mustard seeds, smoked paprika, dried chickpeas, preserved lemon.

What’s your favourite dish to cook and eat on a crisp autumn day? Yarrow Meadows duck confit with charred stone fruit. I find slow-cooked dishes really warm the soul and are perfect for the colder weather.

What’s your go-to item when sampling other chefs’ fare?

I look for original items on menus. Steaks and fish are mainstays on most menus, but I want to try something that represents the area and shows the skill and originality of the chef and his brigade.

Hobbies? Hiking, swimming, obscure movie quotes, 2 am Backgammon games with my wife and exploring what the land around me has to offer.

Anything else we should know? I think food has an amazing way of connecting people. That’s really what drew me into this as a career. Connecting to the region, sharing that with guests and watching the stories that unfold as shared bonds are made over good food. Very exciting.

Can you share an easy, seasonal recipe for a quick bite this autumn? I have shared two … the Q Ugly Soup is so local that I think readers will love it, and who doesn’t love hearty soup in the fall? The second uses an emerging ingredient that is playful and delicious: Salish Sea Geoduck Ceviche.

RECIPES

Salish Sea Geoduck Ceviche

(4 portions)

Chef Hookham says: “I think geoduck is amazing. It is incredibly hearty, yet has such delicate flavour. This product is really just being discovered by Canadian diners and I love the opportunity to showcase what we can do with it, so it can be enjoyed simply and easily at home.”

(Locally sourced products are noted to showcase Vancouver Island producers. However, ingredients could come from other producers.)

180 ml Charred Lemon Dressing (recipe below)

120 gr Marinated Salish Sea Geoduck (about 1/3 of a geoduck after blanching and cleaning)

8 pieces cured BC spot prawns

1 head Saanich Organics Escarole

4 leaves Foxglove Farms Red Shiso

1 piece Sunwing Farms Baby Cucumber

Crushed Corn Nuts

Mix geoduck and prawns in Charred Lemon Dressing and allow to sit for 40 minutes to cure. Pour dressing into the bottom of the bowl, then mix greens and seafood and build a tower on top of the dressing. Roll baby cucumber slices into rings and place around ceviche.

For the Geoduck

Bring 4L of water to a boil in a large pot and add salt. Add 1 whole geoduck (2 lbs) to the water and boil for about 45 seconds. You will begin to see the skin blister and this will let you know it is ready to come out of the water. Transfer the geoduck to a large pot of salted ice water and chill completely. Once cool, remove the geoduck from the ice bath and pull open the shell. Using a knife, cut away the innards leaving the siphon. From the base of the siphon, peel the outer layer of skin off. Split the siphon into thirds. For the tip, split the siphon in half, and rinse out any sand and julienne. For the middle portion, slice the geoduck into thin rings, and ring out any sand. For the base, cut the siphon into chunks then rinse out any sand. Reserve the meat for marinating. It can be eaten raw, cured for ceviche, or cooked into a stir-fry or stew.

For the Charred Lemon Ceviche Dressing

8 lemons

50 ml Mirin

50 ml Olive the Senses Basil Olive Oil

60 ml sweet chili sauce

Salt Spring Sea Salt

Cut Lemons into haves. On a grill or in a hot frying pan char the flesh of the lemons, then set aside and allow to cool. Juice lemons, then mix in other ingredients and salt to taste.

Ugly Soup, Salish Sea Geoduck Ceviche and bread with honey butter prepared by Chef de Cuisine Ken Hookham at the Fairmont Empress Hotel. Don Denton food photography

Q Ugly Soup

“The idea for Q’s Ugly Soup came from discussions with our local farmers. We wanted to focus on supporting local farmers during the winter months and using organic vegetables year-round. Since many of the ‘second’ vegetables that may be scarred or not visually perfect end up as waste, Fairmont Empress purchases these ‘ugly vegetables’ from Saanich Organics and creates this delicious, seasonal soup.

180 ml Saanich Organics Vegetable Soup

3 pieces Portofino Bakery Peasant Loaf Croutons

45 ml Charred Scallion & Kale Pesto

10 leaves arugula or baby kale garnish

Heat soup, plate in warm soup bowl and garnish with a dollop of Charred Scallion & Kale Pesto (recipe below), fresh greens and crunchy croutons.

Croutons

1 loaf Artisanal Portofino Bakery Peasant Loaf

30 ml olive oil

salt and pepper

30 ml sherry vinegar

30 ml grated parmesan cheese

Tear loaf of Portofino Bakery Peasant bread into 3-cm chunks. Toss in olive oil, season with salt and pepper and bake at 400 F for 5 minutes to crisp outside, but allow the centre to remain slightly soft. Toss freshly baked croutons in sherry vinegar and grated parmesan.

Charred Scallion & Kale Pesto

100 g Scallions

100 g Dinosaur Kale Leaves

4 cloves garlic

300 ml olive oil

salt

In a small sauce, pan cover garlic with some of the olive oil and cook on medium heat for 20 minutes until garlic is soft and golden brown. Set aside to cool. Char scallions on barbecue or in a frying pan until the outer edges begin to blacken. Blanch kale leaves in boiling salted water for 10 seconds then shock in salted ice water to stop cooking. This will reduce any bitter flavour the kale may have and help to bring out the bright green colour. In a blender, combine roasted garlic, roasted garlic oil, the remaining olive oil, charred scallions and blanched kale and blend until smooth. Season with salt.

Saanich Organics Vegetable Soup

Carrot, celery, onion and tomato will always be a base, but everything else changes based on seasonality and availability. From squash and leeks, to beets, parsnip or salsify, let the farmer’s bounty guide our soup recipe.

3 cups vegetable stock

10 threads saffron

300 ml dry white beans

1 small onion

5 cloves garlic

1/16 tsp chili flakes

1/16 tsp fennel seeds

1/16 tsp smoked paprika

2 pieces bay leaf

1 Yukon Gold Potato

2 stalks celery

2 pieces carrot

1 piece leek

500 ml crushed tomato

1 piece delicatta squash

10 ml Tabasco

salt and pepper

Soak dry white beans in 1 L of water overnight in the fridge. Add saffron threads to vegetable stock and bring to a simmer. Turn off heat and allow to steep for 30 minutes and then strain out saffron threads. Toast and grind fennel seed. Trim green of leeks and discard, then julienne and wash the leek whites. Thinly shave garlic. Dice celery, onion and carrot. Cut delicatta squash into rings, then into half moons and remove the seeds. In a thick-bottom soup pot, on medium low heat with minimal vegetable oil, sauté onion, garlic, chili flakes, fennel seeds and smoked paprika to release aroma. Add potato, celery, carrots and leeks and sauté for 5 minutes to begin to soften. Add crushed tomato, bay leaf, hydrated white beans and steeped vegetable stock and bring to a simmer. Add delicatta squash and simmer for 40 minutes until beans and vegetables are tender. Add Tabasco sauce and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.

Boulevard MagazineChef Ken HookhamEmpress HotelFairmont Empress HotelFoodFood photographyRecipeWriter Angela Cowan

Just Posted

2021 Williams Lake Dry Grad Reverse Parade Saturday, June 12, 2021. (Angie Mindus photos - Williams Lake Tribune)
PHOTOS: Graduates line Western Avenue for 2021 Williams Lake Dry Grad Reverse Parade

Community members waited in line in their vehicles to congratulate grads

Ranch Musings columnist David Zirnhelt. (File photo)
RANCH MUSINGS: Placing hope for the future in our children and their children

I am trying to be sure to include that focus as part of an evolving work/life balance

Graduate Belle Riding is congratulated by Lake City Secondary School learning support teacher Gail Gardner as she makes her way across the stage to receive her diploma. (Greg Sabatino photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
2021 Lake City Secondary School grads take centre stage at Williams Lake campus ceremonies

Ceremonies took place over two days, with COVID-19 restrictions in place for second year in a row

BGC Williams Lake Sprockids participants get ready to hit the trails on Fox Mountain May 27 in Williams Lake. (Greg Sabatino photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Sprockids mountain biking program at BGC Williams Lake provides positive, outdoor outlet for youth

Sprockids aims to give youth the opportunity to saddle up on mountain bikes and hit the trails

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Most Read