As a chef and caterer, Owen Lightly has hosted a handful of secret suppers, which feature limited spaces for dinner and hors d'oeuvres at unconventional locations.
But the latest venture by Butter on the Endive, the catering company he owns with artist Naomi Horii, will not be a secret as they host a "chef in residence" series in an apartment above a Riley Park corner store and coffee shop next month.
Lightly, a former chef at Aurora Bistro, West and Araxi, hosted secret suppers when he lived in Squamish. He carried on with the events when he returned to Vancouver a year and a half ago.
"In kitchens, it is a creative place, but oftentimes you're doing the same thing every day for months on end," Lightly said. "It was just a creative outlet and just a way to get some ideas out that have been formulating. Now I don't think I could stop doing them. It's too much fun."
The May 3 to 6 Chef in Residence: a Collaborative Food Project will be the first pop-up restaurant for Butter on the Endive above Le Marche St. George. Featuring a series of collaborative dining experiences by Lightly and other chefs, it will be held above the shop located on St. George at East 28th. "We kind of love everything that they're about, just their whole vibe," Lightly said of the eclectic business. "We really feel like we're kindred spirits."
In Vancouver, Butter on the Endive first hosted Things on Toast at an artists' co-op on Fraser Street.
"There was no kitchen there, just kind of a tiny little room, so we just set up a table there and did everything on toast," Lightly said.
The caterers hosted a pop-up restaurant called Sweater Season in a pop-up shop in Gastown in November.
Lightly organized the Chef in Residence curated series so he could collaborate with colleagues and friends.
"It's pretty stimulating to bounce ideas off someone you've never really worked with before because it's outside of your comfort zone, and usually good things come of that," he said.
Lightly will collaborate with chef and chocolatier Adam Chandler of Beta 5 chocolates on May 3. "There's going to be a few dishes that blur the line between savoury and sweet," Lightly said.
One of the five courses is rhubarb risotto with fennel, tarragon and white chocolate.
The May 4 event will feature Lightly, a native of Gabriola, working with chef Jane Cornborough, a Nanaimo native and former chef de cuisine of the now closed Refuel restaurant, to honour their coastal heritage with seafood.
On May 5, Lightly will work with chef Alvaro Musso of Market restaurant on a Peruvian-inspired menu.
"He was born in Peru. He lived there until he was 12 and he moved to Vancouver and he's been a chef for 10 years and he just never gets a chance to cook the food that he grew up with," Lightly said.
Butter on the Endive is taking reservations for two seatings and each accommodate up to 40 people. They'll ask for a minimum donation of $65 per person, gratuity not included, and guests can bring their own alcohol.
The series ends with a brunch, May 6, where patrons of Le Marche can wander up with a coffee, buy a breakfast sandwich, lounge around and take in the work of the three photographers and the visual artist that Horii has selected to complement the Chef in Residence event.
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