Japan meets the Pacific Northwest in a signature dish by Blair Rasmussen, executive chef at the Vancouver Convention Centre. He is lauded for his use of local ingredients, and infusing as much of the city into his menus as he can. In his maple-seared sablefish with wasabi foam, his international travels seamlessly blend with the local region’s flavors.
“Sablefish is very, very rich,” he said of the main ingredient, which also goes by the name black cod. “It lives in very cold waters, so it has a high fat content. It’s also known by the name butterfish—just to highlight how rich it is.”
Rasmussen uses sablefish (which is purchased from a sustainable fishery) in a variety of ways, but recommends it for intimate receptions. For this particular preparation, he was inspired by Japanese misoyaki and robata preparations. “I wanted to make the dish my own and, for me, this dish is very emblematic of the West Coast and essential Vancouver,” he said. “It’s a regional fish that I thought to marinate with a little maple syrup marinade, which is of course very Canadian.”
The syrup becomes caramelized so that diners benefit from the aroma more than the sweetness. “There’s a huge Asian influence on Vancouver,” he added. “So again, going back to the Japanese fusion origin of the recipe, I thought to pair it with wasabi foam. It’s cream with wasabi (we use fresh wasabi root), lime juice, some sea salt and a little bit of honey to achieve the right balance. By putting the cream with the sablefish, it’s a lovely richness with richness, adding another level of aroma. And the final component is a little potato gaufrette, … a crispy little note again to highlight the Asian aesthetic and texture.”
Executive Chef Blair Rasmussen
Vancouver Convention Centre
“I don’t like to add up the years anymore,” joked Blair Rasmussen, of the time he’s been with the Vancouver Convention Centre. The Vancouver-born chef has worked at the venue since 1987 and has served as executive chef for the past 22 years, a rare amount of time in an industry where chefs seem to change as often as menus. But for Rasmussen, the job never gets old. “The travel I’ve been doing, the promotional work over the years has been really wonderful, so I’m not just stuck in the same kitchen. We also expanded and have a whole new kitchen. …. There’s always something new and interesting.”
Before coming to the convention center, Rasmussen held senior positions at the Hyatt Regency and Méridien Hotel. Now, he prides himself on leading a “scratch” kitchen with locally grown, caught and raised food products. In 2012, he was inducted into the BC Restaurant Hall of Fame and, in 2015, Professional Convention Management Association’s Convene magazine awarded the center with Best in Show honors for food and beverage.