Chef's Choice: Kevin Wallace 

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Full disclosure: Kevin Wallace is not the chef at Earls Kitchen and Bar. He is, however, the managing partner.

Chef Travis Bailey is taking advantage of the slow season and enjoying some time off after a busy summer and ahead of a winter season everybody hopes will exceed last winter's numbers.

Wallace says he doesn't call this the dead season. This is the slow season and it means there's time to host members of the concierge community and other influential people from around the resort at gatherings he calls Chef's Tables. The events allow the guests to really understand what Earls has to offer. Wallace explains that the events are inspired by his days as a Boy Scout.

"I had my first field trip to McDonalds," Wallace explains to his guests at the restaurant space originally filled by the Hard Rock Café. "I remember that day vividly. It changed my life. I came out of that field trip to McDonalds and I was just blown away by how excited I was seeing where the cheeseburgers come from and how things actually happen. I came home and I was sold. I was a McDonalds customer from that day."

Wallace is now the one hosting similar field trips.

Earls also has a long tradition of offering its exclusive Albino Rhino. The brand is available in pale ale, lager and wheat ale. The house brew is made by the Whistler Brewing Company for the Earls outlets in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and B.C. The Muskoka Brewing Company and Earls Saskatoon brew the signature brands for the Earls locations in the eastern part of the country.

"We have always believed in fresh ingredients to create extraordinary dishes, and we have put a great effort forth to translate that passion into our bar program," Earl (a ghost writer, no doubt) writes on the restaurant chain blog.

This translates to making microbrews available at restaurants from small brewers like Howe Sound Brewing in Squamish and Phillips Brewing in Victoria and other craft brew makers in each province all the way east to Ontario.

There's a similar program in place for wine. Mon Ami Rascal Next Door white and red are only available at Earls. The French wines are blended for Earls through a partnership between the Perrin families in France.

Wallace is a walking Earls encyclopedia. At the age of 18 he started working at the restaurant in North Vancouver as an appetizer cook. He did every job there was to do in the North Vancouver kitchen right up to night sous chef.

"I personally never went on to become a chef," Wallace explains with a cautious look in his eye like he's about to reveal something that might offend some people. "I moved to the front of the house service side of the business primarily for the reason that I saw my general manager's pay cheque one day. I thought, 'Jeez that looks good. I want that pay cheque so I'm going to try the other side of the business.' So, I zipped across and I went from being the night sous chef in North Vancouver to a bus boy and started my journey from the service side of the business back up."

Speaking of Earl's Kitchen & Bar, recipe


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