5 Questions With Chef “Z”

Chef Zab
Chef Zab Vanderhyden is the master of light and approachable fare at Harden and Huyse Chocolates and Café.

1 Best part of the job? (Can’t be the long hours…) I can come in every day and create something. With an open kitchen, customers experience and connect with the food. I love it when people say, “I can’t believe the food here, it’s like a piece of art, and the taste.” They don’t expect it.

2 Your cuisine has been called hip and healthy. Would you agree? Mixing foods is my forte, so I had quinoa and a black bean and pineapple salsa, and I turned them into a patty and served it on a Portobello mushroom…Everything is gluten and dairy-free—so many people want that—and there are so many better ways to do things. You don’t have to bread chicken with flour, you can use cornmeal. You can make an egg or tuna salad, deconstructed, without mayonnaise.

3 You make an incredible pulled port taco. Incredible! I make the taco tortillas fresh each time with masa flour. I buy my pastured pork from producers in Keene, Ontario.

4 Your favourite dish? Lamb shanks with fig paint and spaetzle, which I love, with bacon. I had a black fig that was past and soft, so I boiled that down and made a demi glaze. About the first time I got to sit down and eat [here at the café]. The flavour was unbelievable.

5 Most important kitchen tools? A chef’s knife, sushi knife, mandoline and parchment paper— so there’s less washing up.