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Jordanian chef brings a little bit of the Middle East, a lot of B.C. to Whistler

A consummate tinkerer, the Fairmont Chateau’s Adie Anas discovered a love for foraging in the pandemic that informs his approach in the kitchen
Adie Anas, the chef de cuisine at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler’s Wildflower Restaurant.

Adie Anas thrives on stress. You could even go so far as saying he actively seeks it out. As an impressionable teenager in his native Jordan, the Amman native took a summer job as a server, and he still remembers that first moment stepping into the distinct cacophony of a kitchen.

“From the first moment I entered the kitchen, I saw the chaotic atmosphere, the heat, the pressure, people running, and I was like, ‘That’s what I want,’” he recalled. “I want stress. I love stress. If you want to get the best out of me, you have to stress me out.”

The 29-year-old is no stranger to pressure-cooker environments. After that transformative moment in Amman, Anas worked as a butcher for two years before an opportunity to cook at The Ritz-Carlton Dubai landed in his lap. It was there that the chef said his professional culinary career started in earnest, cutting his teeth in one of the most competitive high-end restaurant scenes on the planet.   

“That’s where I built all my knowledge, all my experience,” he said. “Dubai, it’s a very transient place. You know, there’s a lot of competition, a lot of experienced world chefs. In order for you to survive in Dubai, you gotta be on the top.”

In 2018, Anas swapped one transient tourism town for another when he arrived in Whistler to work at the Four Seasons. Then, of course, in early 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and in short order, visitation slowed to a crawl, and Anas was out of work. That led the Jordanian to Alta Bistro, the award-winning contemporary French bistro that has always prioritized its highly seasonal, hyperlocal menu.

“Alta Bistro was, I would say, my enlightenment for this new foraged ingredient [approach]. Actually, you know, [Alta Bistro executive chef] Nick [Cassettari] is an incredible man. He taught me a lot, especially when you go foraging with him. So the love for these ingredients, it got into me when I first started foraging with him,” Anas revealed.

It’s the kind of experience that Anas has tried to harness as chef de cuisine at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler’s Wildflower Restaurant over the past year.

“I want the food to present the name of the restaurant. It’s Wildflower, so I want to have something colourful, something wild, something fresh,” he explained.

A consummate tinkerer in the kitchen, Anas loves to experiment with new ingredients and flavours until he lands on something that sticks, like the cedar-infused crème fraiche that was just one of the tantalizing results of his trials.

“The new menu I’ll be going with is more local foraged ingredients, so I’m focusing more on a lot of spring wild ingredients, so I will have stinging nettle; that will be featured in two dishes. I will be adding fiddleheads, wild onion tops, wild ramps, and many more fresh, seasonal [ingredients]—wild mushrooms,” he noted. “The privilege of living in Whistler, especially in spring, is it allows you to cover a lot of new ingredients that you can play with and that you can use to create new dishes.”

But that doesn’t mean Anas has forgotten his roots. With his new penchant for wild ingredients from his own backyard, the chef deftly incorporates Middle Eastern influences and flavours that a town full of wanderers is bound to appreciate. Like the herb-crusted lamb loin that will appear on the Wildflower’s upcoming menu, expected for launch May 29, served with a minted labneh, a sour yogurt found on breakfast tables across the Middle East, along with maple-glazed walnut and butter-poached asparagus, and, in another nod to his origins, a harissa-walnut sauce. Anas is also developing either an elk or bison tartar for the new menu, that will be served with smoked harissa—a spicy, peppery paste native to the Maghreb region of Africa that is making a run at sriracha as the trendy table condiment de jour—and a tart quince chutney.

“Back in the Middle East, we cook with a lot of spices, a lot of different variety of ingredients,” Anas said. “If you really want to cook traditional Canadian food, you have a limited source for it, so you have to use a different background in order to influence it and make it shine.”

Unlike some fine-dining kitchens you hear about, Anas is highly democratic in how he leads his team. He makes a point of having everyone from his sous chef on down try his food, and likes to give each and every member of his team the chance to flex their creative and culinary muscles.

“I treat everyone equally. It doesn’t matter where you are, if you’re the lowest of the kitchen or the highest in the kitchen, everyone will have respect, everyone will be heard,” he said. “You have to be fair with everyone. It doesn’t matter if they are a first cook or a chef de partie or a sous chef. You know, they might have some amazing talent that will surprise you.”

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