Kitchen Confidential with Chef Bruno Terroso at The Vanilla Pod
Bruno Terroso sees great food as a fusion of tradition and innovation
People think Chef Bruno Terroso is Italian because of his name, but he’s really Portuguese. Growing up in Prince George he did a lot of cooking with his mom, all western European foods. Since his family comes from Laurinha just north of Lisbon, salt cod or bacalhau was a staple. Now he incorporates a lot of Spanish and Portuguese dishes into his menu at The Vanilla Pod. Bruno prefers preparing fish over big red meats and heavy proteins, but he also knows his customers so his menu is a balance of seafood, fowl and meats.
Awards: Best Chef, Best Restaurant 2013
After your mom introduced you to the kitchen, where did you study?
BT (Bruno Terroso): I took the one-year culinary arts program at the College of New Caledonia in Prince George. After that I started my apprenticeship in Calgary eventually moving to the Okanagan to work at Summerhill and the Bonfire Bistro. Before coming to The Vanilla Pod I spent three years as the sous chef at the Naramata Heritage Inn.
BT: I’ve got a lot more responsibility and creativity here. As a sous chef anywhere, you have to cook the recipes that are handed to you by the executive chef. Here I get to develop my own recipes and use my past experiences to develop entirely new menus. A lot of the food we’re preparing here is based on what I grew up with. The big difference is that we prepare it in a way that is conducive to a commercial restaurant kitchen rather than a home kitchen and without sacrificing quality.
How is the Mediterranean influence translated to your menu at The Vanilla Pod?
BT: Flavours are key in Mediterranean cooking. I try not to sink too many flavours into one dish and we prepare a lot of tapas-style dishes. The smaller plates allow our guests to have more variety and flavour. One of the dinner-sized plates we offer is paella, but not the traditional paella. Mine is a hybrid version with additional seafood like sautéed scallops.
Do you try to stick to the 100-mile buying guide?
BT: I try to buy as close to home as possible. Things like fish and shellfish of course aren’t grown here, but most of the produce is grown right here in the Valley. I used to go to the farmers’ markets, but over the years I’ve developed good relationships with the growers and now go directly to the farms. My wife and I also grow about 65 per cent of the tomatoes we use in the restaurant at our home in Summerland. We use a lot of different varieties of tomatoes and they’re mainly heirloom breeds. For some of the special stuff I have really good local suppliers like What The Fungus Urban Mushroom Farm in Penticton for both my domestic and wild mushrooms.
In the kitchen do you use any specialized equipment?
BT: No we don’t use anything you’d consider fancy or a gadget. Most of our meals are prepared in pots and pans. The thing I would recommend is using good sharp knives. I use a combination of Victorinox and Miyabi knives.