Jackie Kai Ellis - Life is sweet. Just ask Jackie Kai Ellis. Between whipping up pastries that will blow your mind at Beaucoup Bakery, hosting foodie holidays in France (The Paris Tours) and writing all about food, she’s on a permanent sugar high! She took off her apron just long enough to dish on Vancouver’s hidden gems, her fave spots to get her grub on, and the secret to the perfect cookie. #nomnom
OUR INTERVIEW WITH JACKIE
First things first, I check in on Beaucoup every morning. Each day is different, but it’s usually a mix of meetings, taste testing for the bakery, and creating recipes for TV appearances and articles I’m working on. Right now I’m writing for Scout Mag, Van Sun, Vitamin Daily, Hayo and the Food Network.
What’s a typical day in your life like?
I love eating and discovering food, and originally I started cooking so I could taste those hard-to-find recipes that I couldn’t track down anywhere in Vancouver. Part of my inspiration comes from trying different flavours and dishes when I’m travelling. Earlier this year, I was in Paris and had this great dessert of fresh pineapple and basil over a sour milk sorbet. That inspired me to make a pineapple tart with a basil gelée on top for my bakery.
Where do you get your inspiration for your recipes?
I love the pain au chocolat (chocolate croissant) because it was what first inspired me to think about opening my own French bakery. I had one every morning when I was in Paris and missed it so much that I started making them back in Vancouver. I tested 60 different doughs until I found the right one!
This might be like asking you to pick your favourite child, but out of everything in your bakery, what do you like most?
Food trucks have some great food for less: Tacofino and Japadog are among my faves. I also love Santouka Ramen in the West End. It recently burned down but they’re supposed to open again soon. Fingers crossed!
What are your top “Do More, Spend Less” eating out spots?
Recently I’ve become more interested in the outdoors. I’ve started hitting the hiking trails and I’m kind of blown away by the beauty. I went hiking at Joffre Lake and have done lots of day hikes, and visited Tofino. I love that you can do all these things out in nature, then end your day with a great dinner downtown.
What do you love most about living on the West Coast?
Vancouver is full of natural beauty. I like to hit up Lighthouse Park for a small hike or drive a little further and see some gorgeous views in Pemberton. I love bringing out-of-town visitors to see these spots.
What is your favourite hidden gem in the city?
Vegetable-focused dining is about to blow up. There are lots of these types of restos in Vancouver, but even in places like France – where vegetarians don’t exist – they are moving in the same direction. Also, éclair shops are becoming big. In Paris, I visited several that had these crazy flavours…there were even savoury versions like croque monsieur and smoked salmon!
What are some hot food trends we should watch for 2015?
I think it’s great to do family-style foods that will feed more people. Things like stews, chilis and hearty soups with lots of bread and a big salad. Sometimes I do dinners where each person brings an ingredient and we all cook together. Good times.
Can you share your top tips on how to do more and spend less when hosting dinner for friends?
The key to an ooey gooey cookie is to ensure you don’t overbake it. You almost have to underbake them just slightly. It’s a difference of one minute. Turn your pan halfway through the cooking time and check how much time they really need – don’t just go by what the recipe says.
Inquiring minds want to know: what’s the secret to making the perfect cookie?
Vanilla bean. It sounds exotic but it can be used in SO many different ways. If something tastes flat, you can add a bit of vanilla to it. You can boil it with milk to make yummy drinks (think lattes or teas), cream or crème brulee. Once it’s boiled, you can wash it and bake it in the oven to infuse salts and sugars with the flavor. Or you can use it to make your own extract…I just took some beans I’ve already used and put them in a jar of tequila!
What is your go-to ingredient in your own kitchen?
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