On Tuesday, October 27, Fairmont Pacific Rim executive chef Damon Campbell and Botanist executive chef Hector Laguna will host an all-star cast of Vancouver chefs for the ultimate culinary collaboration. For one evening only, a specialty five-course experience will be designed for guests to ‘travel’ through a tasting of global cuisine styles, benefiting the Vancouver Food and Beverage Community Relief Fund. Along with Fairmont Pacific Rim Executive Chef Damon Campbell and Botanist’s Hector Laguna, participating chefs including Phil Scarfon, Culinary Director of Savio Volpe along with Edie Steensma, Savio Volpe head chef; Scott Jaeger of the former Pear Tree Restaurant; Hamid Salimian, co-owner of Popina; and Wayne Kozinko, Aritzia Executive Pastry Chef.
We recently sat down with each of the participating chefs to learn a little bit more about them and their culinary background.
Vancouver native Damon Campbell, brings over 20 years of cooking experiences to his position as Executive Chef at Fairmont Pacific Rim. Praised for his dedication to ingredient-driven cuisine, and a passion for showcasing local producers and purveyors, he takes a globally inspired approach to his cooking style that lends itself to the culinary techniques refined through his years of international travels. No stranger to competition, Campbell has held the prestigious position of team captain for Culinary Team Canada in the Culinary Olympics and he competed in Switzerland and Luxembourg; leading the team to four gold medal victories. Joining Fairmont Pacific Rim just weeks prior to an unprecedented time that the hospitality and restaurant industry is currently facing, Damon’s innovative approach has been instrumental in pivoting the interim culinary operation of Fairmont Pacific Rim.
As a child, Phil found truth in the kitchen. For his family, their kind of Sunday Service was at Grandma’s house: where they came together around the spirit of sharing food. Growing up, Phil experienced how the simple acts of harvesting, preparing and sharing a meal helped people belong and connect. He dove headfirst into cooking professionally and became enthralled with learning all he could about what it means to be a great chef. Today, he is compelled to make food that is intricate in its simplicity. At the core he is inspired by the very essence of ingredients themselves. The dishes he creates evoke feelings of comfort and home; nostalgia for the senses.
Chef Hamid grew up on the shores of Iran’s Caspian Sea, and learned about traditional Persian cuisine amid his father’s citrus orchards and dairy farm. Soon after arriving in Canada in 1989, Hamid enrolled in culinary and pastry arts at Vancouver Community College, where he graduated at the top of his class. He then trained and worked in renowned hotel restaurants, including the Sutton Place Hotel, Westin Bear Mountain in Victoria, B.C., the Westin Wall Centre in Richmond, B.C., and Vancouver’s Diva at the Met. Over the years, he developed an innovative approach, combining classic French cuisine and traditional Persian dishes, to create a blended multicultural style all his own. Chef Hamid is now co-owner of Nextjen Gluten Free, Popina Canteen and Popina Cantina.
Armed with artistry and experience, Wayne Kozinko oversees the team which creates and executes seasonal desserts, sweets, breads and pastries at A – OK Commissary. Wayne takes pride in training and working with a group of talented individuals in a positive environment. His menus illustrate classic desserts reduced to their base flavors, then reworked into more modern interpretations.
Originally from Edmonton, Kozinko has spent much of his career in Vancouver. Most recently, he served as the Executive Pastry Chef for Hawksworth’s restaurant group. Prior to that, the Four Seasons Hotel and its restaurant, Yew. He spent nearly a decade at Diva at the Met within the Metropolitan Hotel, where he worked with Executive Pastry Chef and acclaimed Chocolatier Thomas Haas.
Canadian born Scott Jaeger apprenticed under Bruno Marti at La Belle Auberge Restaurant and was later recruited to work at the Waldorf Hotel in London, a move that led to him pursuing other contracts in France, Switzerland and Australia. He and his wife Stephanie opened the Pear Tree Restaurant in late 1997, voted best new restaurant by the BCRFA and Vancouver magazine, and consistently best fine dining from Burnaby Now. Scott holds the position of Vice Conseilleur Culinaire of the esteemed Chaine des Rotisseurs, in addition to being a member of the Canadian Culinary Federation and the president of The Chef’s Table Society of British Columbia.
What is your favourite destination for culinary exploration? France
When you can travel globally again, what destination is on your agenda, and why? I would like to go to Japan, the pandemic has reminded me of the need to keep expanding my horizons and I would love to dig into Japans use of local ingredients in their regional cuisine.
Who is your favourite person to cook for? My wife
What is the ingredient you keep stocked the most? Likely mustard (in many versions)
Laguna grew up surrounded by food, and his love for cooking first sparked while helping his mother in their family kitchen in Hidalgo, Mexico. His love for cooking has always been built on the foundation of bringing friends and family around the table, bound by a shared passion for great food and good conversation. His culinary career spans over a decade cooking in kitchens across North America’s top foodie destinations including San Francisco, Miami, Toronto and Vancouver.
What is your favourite destination for culinary exploration? New York
When you can travel globally again, what destination is on your agenda, and why? Spain. There are so many restaurants I want to try. I find Spanish flavors very interesting and complex. Plus, I want to watch some good quality soccer once I am there
Who is your favourite person to cook for? My wife
What is the ingredient you keep stocked the most? Chillies, I think some heat always add so much to food. There is always some heat in my food, sometimes enough for you taste it and other times just enough to balance other flavors.