Vancouver based chef Lina Chaschetto recently took an afternoon off from prepping her two new restaurant ventures to cook us an amazing fireside lunch on the beach. While chopping up fire logs and finessing a bacon/kale caesar salad and a delicious veggi miso soup, Lina filled us in on her big summer camping adventures, her fav restaurants in Van (and France), her embroidery project on an apricot coloured cap and what Dr. Marten’s she’s been wearing this season.
You have some exciting restaurant projects coming up, can you tell us about them and a few things you’ve enjoyed about the process?
I'm actually currently working on two restaurant openings simultaneously! The first is the brand new Café Kitsuné that will be opening in Gastown this December. I have really been enjoying working with this Parisian company as they have given me lots of freedom to bring my creativity and input to what I think is going to be a really fun café and wine bar menu influenced by both French and Japanese cuisine and flavours. The second is my very own sandwich shop alongside my good friend Zachary Zimmerman. If you were ever a fan of Say Hey, which sadly closed at the beginning of 2020, you are likely going to be really excited for what we have in store for you. Not too much else I can reveal about that one right at this moment, but keep your eyes peeled on my Instagram for updates as we roll it all out heading into the new year.
How would you describe your overall cooking philosophy?
Seasonal, well-seasoned(!) food that is inherently delicious, surprising and generous.
What are three kitchen tools you can’t live without?
A microplane, a sharp knife, and one of my many cast iron pans.
This summer you went on some big adventures and camping trips, can you share your most memorable one and your favourite camp fire meal?
Last Easter long weekend we went on a group trip and took the trucks up into the Big Bar region. I was maybe a bit too ambitious and decided to rope my friend Michelle into cooking a full-on Easter ham dinner with me...in the dark! It shouldn't come as a huge surprise when I reveal to you that it didn't all go exactly to plan haha. I ended up burning the shit out of the pot AND the ham by adding the glaze too early on in the cooking process...but hey, you live and you learn! I now definitely know what I would do differently next time so, there is always that!
On this same trip, Calen and I decided to stay an extra night after everyone else packed up and drove home. In the morning, as we basked in the early spring sunshine, I made us BLTs and spiked the mayo with my favourite crispy chilli oil. The only bread we had left were hot dog buns, which seemed a bit trashy at the time but ended up being totally up to the task. Plus, bacon cooked in a well-seasoned cast iron pan over hot coals is the best! 10 out of 10 would make again!
Any tips for a successful and tasty fire-side meal?
Having a solid plan of attack for whatever you might be cooking over a fire is important. I like to think ahead about what I can prepare at home before heading out in order to simplify my life. If I am making hamburgers, for example, I will season and shape the patties at home because when you are cooking outside, you might not have ready or easy access to hot water in order to wash your hands. Cold hands covered with ground beef fat just simply won't do.
Same goes for sautéed mushrooms (because I cannot live without these on my burger!). Is it realistic that I will take down half a kilo of 'shrooms (or more, depending on how many people I am feeding!) on a tiny cutting board precariously placed on the edge of a log, to then cook them down in the relatively small cast iron pan that fits in our camp cooking kit? I mean look, anything is possible! But will it make my life easier? Not really. Better to just get it done ahead of time at home and then wrap in a layer or two of foil so they can easily be reheated over the hot coals while I get those patties cooking.
With your time split between France and Vancouver the last few years, what are some stand out restaurants or meals you’ve had in both places?
Having mostly been spending my time in France the past 7 years, I would say that there are still so many restaurants I need to still experience here in Vancouver. However, towards the beginning of fall this year I went to Caffe La Tana and had the most marvellous lunch. The sun was shining so we were able to sit outside and the service was impeccable. The food was comforting yet refined and incredibly delicious. They also run a little grocery concept within the space and sell bottles of really nice olive oil that they import themselves and use in their cooking, which I really love. It's my current go-to finishing oil that I use at home.
In France, there is sooooo much good food that it is really hard for me to choose, but every single meal I have ever had at La Mercerie in Marseille has been outstanding. The chef, Harry Cummins, is a good friend and mentor of mine, so I might be a little bias, but the food he and his team makes is truly fantastic! They also have an incredible selection of wines chosen by sommelier Laura Vidal which really make the experience of eating there sing. If you are ever in the south of France, you absolutely cannot skip this spot!
Outside of cooking and travel how do you like to spend your free time?
I'm pretty into thrift shopping...the thrill of the hunt and all that, I guess. One woman's trash is another woman's treasure. I also recently was inspired by a friend to casually take up embroidery. I have been working on jazzing up an apricot coloured ball cap I thrifted, covering it with all kinds of embroidered flowers. With each one, I learn a little more about how to achieve the results I am looking for with the stitches I choose to apply. And it's fun to have a little activity outside of cooking. Especially one that links me back to my first career as a clothing designer, which I went to school for and worked a few years in before realizing how much more of my time I spent daydreaming of food and cooking.
What music/podcasts or movies have you enjoyed lately?
My friend Alyssa recently reminded me of Bjork's Post album and so I decided to give it a little revisit. Doing so was a genuine reminder of how much I really used to love the experience of listening to, and getting to intimately know an album in its entirety. Especially this one, what an incredible oeuvre! I have been feeling a bit sick of the playlists I have had on rotation for the last little while so I think I am going to try to tackle working in some more albums from start to finish into my musical repertoire going forward.
We recently watched the Anthony Bourdain film, Roadrunner. A lot of people who I know also love food have avoided it because of the "deep-fake" thing they did using his voice to fill in the narration of the film, but honestly, it didn't bother me one bit. The story of Bourdain's rise to fame, which lead to his all too sudden exit is at once beautiful and yet oh so heartbreaking. A much needed reminder of the mental health issues he and so many others face around us and a further gentle 'aide-memoire' to hug the ones you love. Life is so incredibly short!
What pair of Docs are you wearing and why did you pick this pair?
The Chelsea boot is slick and easy enough to slip in and out of while out for an adventure. I'm also pretty obsessed with any of the styles that have got the platform going on. Gotta love those signature Bouncing Soles!
Do you have any upcoming projects you would like to share or any shout outs?
Adventure (in and out of the kitchen) is always on the horizon for this little Camp Cheffe! Shout out to my camp family, my real family and my Paris family. I appreciate you all so very very much.