Volunteer Profile: Chef Stuart of Tacofino
How you first got involved with Growing Chefs!?
The first time I got involved, I was working at Maenam on 4th and Cypress. Maenam was part of the Eat.Give.Grow. Fundraising Campaign, where two dollars from each Pad Thai went towards Growing Chefs! At the time, I really had no clue what the organization was about.
The following year, Helen came around to ask if any one wanted to join the fun and teach kids about growing their own food.
Now, my parents grew vegetables in our own garden for as long as I can remember, and i can remember back pretty far! They were adamant that I learned how to grow, and have that life skill. So as a personal note, I feel vary strongly that kids should be taught these skill. Every school should have an agricultural program from grade one to grade 12.
Why did you decide to continue volunteering with Growing Chefs! for a second year?
It’s been about a year or two since I was last a part of Growing Chefs!, but when my boss asked me to represent Tacofino at one of the participating schools, I jumped at the chance.
What is your favourite dish to cook for yourself? Can you share the recipe?
I’m pretty relaxed about my home cooking. I like simple things like hot dogs and bangers and mash. But if I’m making tomato sauce I tend to go a bit crazy with it. Please note that you can sub half the oil for canola.
Chef Stuart’s Homemade Tomato Sauce
4-6 Cans of High Grade Canned Whole Plum Tomatoes
1-2 L Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 lb Basil
10 Cloves of Fresh Whole Garlic
*TT Chili Flakes
*TT Freshly Cracked Black Pepper
Large Sauce Pot
China Cap or Large Strainer with Small Holes
*TT= to taste
Add your oil to the rondo and heat to medium setting. Add garlic and slowly cook it (confit garlic) while you prep your other ingredients. Make sure to stir your garlic and not let the oil get too hot or burn.
With your strainer, separate the liquid in the cans of tomatoes from the whole plums. Then proceed to squish the tomatoes and remove the rest of the liquid. You should be left with a lot of red pulp. Add liquid to sauce pot and slowly reduce on a low setting.
At this point your garlic should be nicely cooked, and oil fully infused with garlic. Add the tomato pulp, basil, chili flakes, and stir. You will notice a lot of oil on the surface of your pulp; this is normal and will disappear in time. Continue to stir and scrape the bottom every so often, not allowing the bottom to stick or burn. Eventually your sauce will absorb most of the oil and will look like a thick red molten blob. This whole process should take no less than an hour. During all of this, keep an eye on your liquid. Don’t allow it to reduce more than half.
Add your reduced tomato liquid to the tomato pulp, and stir. Let this reduce for about 10 minutes on low.
Remove the basil stems (if there are any) but do not remove the leaves. At this point, it’s safe to season your sauce, so add your sugar, salt, and pepper. Take the emersion blender and pureé the mixture until all of the oil is incorporated into the sauce. The final product should look very glossy. Taste it. If it is not to your liking add more seasoning, and use the emersion blender to incorporate them in.
You can find Chef Stuart and the Orange Tacofino Truck at Robson Square from Monday – Friday from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. Follow them at @TacoFinoCantina.