What makes people around the world envious of Vancouver’s food scene besides the city’s close proximity to fresh seafood? They can boast Chef David Hawksworth as one of their city’s finest culinary talents. The native Vancouverite cut his teeth in Europe working in Michelin-starred kitchens such as Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons, L’Escargot and The Square before returning to Vancouver in 2000 where he has become one of the most celebrated chefs in Canada. While at the helm of West Restaurant, Hawksworth was named Vancouver’s Chef of the Year in 2005, became the youngest chef inductee in to the BC Restaurant Hall of Fame, and led the way for West to be named Vancouver Magazine’s Restaurant of the Year in 2003 and then again for 2005, 2006 and 2007.
Since opening Hawksworth Restaurant in 2011, the awards have piled in for Hawksworth and his restaurant. Recognition kicked off with a bang when Hawksworth made enRoute‘s Best New Restaurants of 2011, and the entire country was certainly paying attention when the restaurant scored the title of “Canada’s Best Restaurant” according to Maclean’s Magazine in 2012. These days, Hawkworth and his celebrated establishment are award show staples, sweeping the Vancouver Magazine Restaurant Awards in 2013 to bring home the trophies for Restaurant of the Year, Chef of the Year, and the Gold for Best Upscale Restaurant. When he isn’t redefining Canadian cuisine, the illustrious chef finds time to look out for the next generation of chefs with the Hawksworth Young Chef Scholarship. We caught up with Hawksworth to find out more about his life, work and passions…
Give us a snippet about you. What should people know?
Outside of the kitchen, my other passions are taking advantage of BC’s outdoors. I love to ski in the winter and fish throughout the summer. In the last year I’ve started a new project, the Hawksworth Young Chef Scholarship. Lately I’ve been dedicating lots of my time to that as we launch the scholarship nationally for its second year.
What inspired you to become a chef?
Like many other chefs, the interest was fostered by a family member. My uncle was a chef and my mother and grandmother were great cooks. After beginning to work in different kitchens around Vancouver, I realized cooking was more than just a hobby.
What are the things you love most about Canadian cuisine?
I would have to say my personal favourites are the diversity of seafood available and a specific favourite of mine would have to be our sweet dungeness crab.
Can you give any tips to young chefs who aspire to be as successful as yourself?
Start as young as possible and don’t worry about how much you’re working. Set goals but make sure the goals are realistic and achievable. Find good role models.
What are the biggest challenges and best rewards about what you do?
The biggest challenge would have to be constantly prioritizing and dividing my time as the restaurant owner. The reward is that every day I get to work with incredible people that all share the same passion for food.
What are you most excited about for the coming year at Hawksworth?
Right now we’re very excited to plan the next restaurant, as well as launch the Hawksworth Young Chef Scholarship nationally with three regional heats and finals.
Finish this sentence. I love Vancouver because…
…of the seasonality of local produce and the city’s proximity to the ocean and mountains.
What are three things you can’t live without?
My pizza oven at home, fresh seafood, and an iPhone charger.
What are some of your favourite restaurants in the world and why?
In no particular order, Barrafina in London, UK, because the dishes are super simple and perfectly executed; Gjelina in Venice, California because it has amazing food with an amazingly fun atmosphere; Le Gavroche in London, UK because this is where I proposed to my amazing wife.
What’s your favourite drink/ cocktail and where do you go to get it?
Always a Paper Plane, usually at the Hawksworth Cocktail Bar.
Check out the Hawksworth experience for yourself below…