Chef Quang Dang prefers to let ingredients speak for themselves. “I would not say that I have a true style, but some of our regular guests would say otherwise,” says Dang, executive chef at West Restaurant in Vancouver. “Besides a strong preference for local and sustainable product, I tend to focus on a few specific ingredients and let them speak for themselves.”
At West Restaurant, Dang showcases his skill of bringing local ingredients to life in his dishes. “I like to keep dishes fresh and on the lighter side,” he says, adding his style was influenced by the terroir of the west coast with its melting pot of cultures and abundance of great ingredients.
The child of a Scottish mother and a Vietnamese father, Dang was surrounded by good cooks and had access to an array of cuisines from an early age. “I was always adventuresome in tasting new things and encouraged to cook with my family,” says the Calgary-born chef. When Dang moved to Vancouver to get his engineering degree, he took a job at West Restaurant as junior sous chef to help pay for school. Realizing that cooking was his passion, he completed a culinary apprenticeship at Diva at the Met in Vancouver. He also attended Vancouver Community College, where he was accredited with the Red Seal. “My career started in 1996 and it feels like I have been running ever since,” says Dang, who has worked at Nick’s Steakhouse, Joey Restaurants, Joe Fortes Seafood and Chop House, Diva at the Met, Rare and C Restaurant.
Known for its contemporary regional cuisine, West Restaurant brings modern interpretations of classics to each dish. For dinner, popular entrées include Sawmill Bay oysters with Salt Spring Island apple mignonette ($3.50 each), crispy Yarrow Meadows duck salad with watercress and sweet-chili vinaigrette ($17.50) and wild B.C. salmon (currently Haida Gwaii Coho), young vegetables and herb nage ($31.50).
In 2003, Dang was chosen to represent Canada at the Bocuse d’Or in Lyon, France as apprentice to chef Andrew Springett. He also worked with the Vancouver Aquarium’s Ocean Wise program promoting sustainable seafood choices during his tenure at C Restaurant. For the last five years, Dang has helped host numerous chefs from around the world at West Restaurant and travelled as a guest chef to food-driven cities to showcase the bounty of ingredients from the west coast and share his food philosophies with new markets.
Volume 50, Number 1
Written by Emilie Bell