Beach Bay Café welcomes new Executive Chef Felix Zhou

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Beach Bay Café has made an exciting change just ahead of the holidays, and has welcomed Felix Zhou as their new Executive Chef.

Zhou, who has worked in some of Vancouver’s top restaurants and spent time in London, comes to the English Bay-side restaurant following a tenure at The Parker-turned-Big Trouble. Bringing with him a love of fresh, seasonal ingredients and a restrained touch and emphasis on simplicity, Zhou has already collaborated with Beach Bay Café’s sous-chef to maintain some of the restaurant’s mainstay dishes, as well as brought on board some dynamic and signature dishes of his own.

Felix Zhou (Jess Fleming / Vancity Buzz)

Felix Zhou (Jess Fleming / Vancity Buzz)

A relaxing sea-side café is an ideal setting for sophisticated but approachable ocean-centric fare, and Zhou and the Beach Bay kitchen team are putting out beautifully plated dishes that pack complex and satisfying flavours, but manage to avoid being too rich or heavy, even as we approach the cold winter months.

House cured salmon is dotted with the briny pop of pickled beets, the cool creaminess of avocado, and the pleasing crunch of puffed wild rice. Ling cod is expertly seared and perfectly flaky, perched atop fresh peas, cubed potatoes, and mussels in a light broth for that extra note of ocean flavour. Seared albacore shines in its nakedness, served over a fragrant carrot escabeche. Tender local octopus melds with bold chorizo to cozy up to supple, buttery pearls of couscous and roasted peppers.

House cured salmon (Jess Fleming / Vancity Buzz)

House cured salmon (Jess Fleming / Vancity Buzz)

Though much of Zhou’s new menu spotlights the integral deliciousness of the ingredients, he applies the same reverence to more relaxed café fare, like burgers and fish and chips, making sure that if they’re serving a burger its juicy, and their fish and fries are fried up perfectly.

“I just source the best things we can at that moment,” explains Zhou of his culinary philosophy, adding that he prefers to do as little as possible to the ingredients in order to preserve their natural flavours. Because Beach Bay Café prints all their menus daily in-house, Zhou is able to make immediate changes based on what’s available, so customers will have their choice of dishes tailored to that day’s ingredients.

Ling cod (Jess Fleming / Vancity Buzz)

Ling cod (Jess Fleming / Vancity Buzz)

Over the past few years and in several terrific Vancouver restaurants, Zhou says he’s refined his understanding of what local diners are most in search of when eating out. “I try to make sure the food is tasty, and as fresh as it can be,” Zhou adds.

Crumbly cheesecake-inspired dessert (Jess Fleming / Vancity Buzz)

Crumbly cheesecake-inspired dessert (Jess Fleming / Vancity Buzz)

Other stellar aspects of the Beach Bay Café is their take-out window, which is perfect for customers looking to grab-and-go–especially when they can take what they’ve grabbed and go right to the beach, which is steps away–and their drinks options. Barman Adrian Lindner is mixing up competition-winning drinks (you’ll want to warm up with the Carribbean in Fall) and their thoughtfully curated wine list aims to showcase B.C.’s small wineries outside the Okanagan, giving diners the chance to sip from bottles that come from very limited releases and in modest batches.

Carribbean in Fall (Jess Fleming / Vancity Buzz)

Carribbean in Fall (Jess Fleming / Vancity Buzz)

The future looks brighter still for the Beach Bay Café, and this inviting, cheery English Bay restaurant is heading into a delicious new year.

Beach Bay Café

Address: 1193 Denman Street
Phone: 604-685-7337
Twitter: @beachbaycafe

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Lindsay William-Ross Lindsay is a Senior Editor at Vancity Buzz, and currently runs the site's Food section. A fourth generation Vancouverite, she spent the last two decades in Los Angeles, where she was EIC of the city's top blog, earned her MA, attended culinary school, and was an English professor (among other things). Lindsay's first published piece was December 1980 in The Province; it was her letter to Santa. E-mail: lindsay@vancitybuzz.com
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