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Eric and Bruce Bromberg are brother chefs who run the Blue Ribbon Restaurants in New York City. Recently they partnered with the Renaissance hotels to launch an exclusive menu of "Blue Ribbon Classic" dishes in select cities. They've chosen Renaissance locations in San Francisco, LA, NYC, Austin, Boston, New Orleans, St. Petersburg AND Vancouver, the only Canadian city. Bruce was here on Thursday along with his tasting menu, and I had a chance to talk to him:

VS: Of all the cities in Canada, why did you choose Vancouver?

BB: We were looking for locations across North America that would translate well for the brand, and Vancouver has a great food culture and not only that, but a real passion for food. We actively chose cities like this; that eat passionately. Also, it has a personal connection for me, my father is a true foodie and has been traveling here for years and has told me it's the most beautiful city.

VS: Who inspires you? Whose cooking do you admire?

BB: My family inspires me the most. My father taught me a lot about Francophone cooking, and that's what I started out being interested in. But now I have to say I'm cooking more like my mother, I'm taking a lot more pleasure in simple things; cooking simple foods in simple ways.

VS: Every time you cook, who are you cooking for?

BB: I'm cooking for my customer on an individual level. My restaurant is like my house, and if someone came to your house for dinner and they didn't finish, you would want to know why, right? It's the same with my restaurants. I want to please that individual palate. Each table, each meal as a whole is important to me.

VS: What do you like to eat?

BB: I like to eat whatever is fresh, good quality and local, no matter where I am in the world.

VS: What is your favorite ingredient to cook with right now?

BB: I live in Denver, CO, and we grow delicious root vegetables. I'm really into different onions and garlics, along with root vegetables, simply grilled.

VS: What ingredient that is trendy right now do you wish would just go out of style?

BB: I'm probably kind of shooting myself in the foot for this, considering I have a sushi restaurant, but Yuzu is kind of overused right now. It's a very special taste that I love, but if I go for dinner and it's in four different dishes, it's not as special.

Bruce is a very nice man and was a real pleasure to talk to. They offered the guests a tasting menu of simple foods:

Fried Rock Shrimp with Lemon Cayenne Sauce
Grilled Chicken Burger
Menchego and Mexican Honey Toast
"Northern Fried" Chicken Wings
White Bean Hummus Toast with Black Olives and Lemon Oil
Grilled Cheese Panini
Sauteed Calamari with Butter, Garlic, Parsley

There were a lot of people there and not a ton of food, so I only got to try a few things, and only then by essentially standing in front of the kitchen waiting for them to come out. I had the Northern fried chicken, the calamari, the fried rock shrimp, and the cheese panini, which were all simple and well made, particular standouts were the calamari and the chicken. The calamari is pan fried and very tender in a simple lemon sauce; the chicken is not greasy with a delicious, well-balanced herbed breading, just crunchy enough.

I couldn't take any photos of the food because it literally flew right past me, which was annoying. One thing I saw but never tasted were the leeeeettttle tiny chicken burgers. I normally don't like little tiny things, they bug me. But these are pretty cute, I must reluctantly admit. It's kind of like admitting you secretly like Hello Kitty. I feel lame.

Bruce's cooking is true to what he said in our interview, he does have a passion for simple foods and it shows in this menu. I probably wouldn't go back to have a grilled cheese sandwich, that's too simple even for me. But I would eat the meat dishes, and I would recommend them. Next time you are wandering by the Renaissance, it's a decent, classic option.

Jessica

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