An hour in the classroom kitchen with Chef Julian Bond is the epicurean equivalent of at least two weeks in Santa’s workshop: both an advanced education and supreme entertainment.
Equal parts pedigree and personality, his passion for cooking has guided the lifetime pursuits of many.
British born, trained and papered, Chef Bond crossed the Atlantic and Canada to train apprentice chefs for what was then CP Hotels before becoming an indelible driver of Vancouver’s culinary culture.
Tapped on the shoulder by The Globe and Mail as one of the Young Chef’s of the Millennium and chosen by Maclean’s Magazine as one of Canada’s top entrepreneurs in 1998, Bond accumulated further accolades and acumen as a chef before turning his talents to teaching.
At work, he is the master of his domain, a chef of chefs and nearly every student’s favourite teacher: as renowned for his warmth, wit and storytelling as for his abilities and accomplishments.
That said, the kitchen is off-limits at home.
As executive chef, vice president and COO of the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts, Bond’s license to thrill ends at his front door – with exceptions made for holidays.
“I don’t have a kitchen at home. It’s my wife’s kitchen,” he laments, before brightening.
“I do get my turn come Christmas dinner though, and there is always a Selection Box to look forward to.”
The multi-sorted British confectionary is an ancestral staple of the season.
“Selection Box is brilliant in its way: never varying, always varied. I’m a traditionalist at heart and look forward to mine every year,” says Bond. “That said, I like to mix things up a bit. And Angelina is a brilliant baker, so part of what we’re making today is Palmiers – my favourite!”
His wife and PICA publicist Angelina Froste has joined us in one of institute’s eight gleaming kitchens as we bring the holidays to life a few months ahead of time. She laughs and points at the spread of ingredients, tools and culinary accoutrements that cover the considerable workstation.
“Every possible pot and pan is out. He is the quintessential chef; he loves to experiment and make a mess in the process,” says Froste with a smile. “That said, he’s brilliant at what he does and has plenty of hands for the cleanup here.”
With four children between the ages of nine and 14, all finding food fascinations of their own, their home kitchen is simply not equipped to deal with their father’s epicurean enthusiasms – and they are multiple.
“Having a bit of passion for the kitchen is easy with the holidays. The key is getting things organized ahead of time, so you can focus on enjoying them,” says Bond. “The Christmas goodies should be fun. Get a group together, rent a big kitchen, mix, bake and share. It’s a blast.”
Fun is fundamental to Chef Bond’s approach to the kitchen. Gingerbread ladies and men, each artfully adorned, together with competition-caliber, carved pumpkins line one wall of the kitchen.
“We have some great talent in our pastry program, but a lot of what you see comes from the culinary crew; everyone is vying for one of our four spots on Team Gingerbread House for the big competition fundraiser at the Hyatt Regency.”
Another fundamental is focus. As PICA houses both a recently renovated bakery and fully licensed restaurant, focused fun is what fuels the students and visitors alike.
“With the cooking, you have more flexibility. The consistency comes through in the quality. With baking it’s more of a science. Repetition is the key to good pastry so our front bake shop is incredibly popular.”
Bond smiles. “Which is why Angie handles the baking too!”