Chef's Choice: Jamie Zilinsky 

click to enlarge PHOTO BY BRANDON BARRETT - KEEPING IT SIMPLE: After spending years working in some of the resort's top kitchens, chef-owner Jamie Zilinsky decided to open his own restaurant, Psycho Sliders, a classic diner that serves breakfast and lunch in the Upper Village.
  • Photo by Brandon Barrett
  • KEEPING IT SIMPLE: After spending years working in some of the resort's top kitchens, chef-owner Jamie Zilinsky decided to open his own restaurant, Psycho Sliders, a classic diner that serves breakfast and lunch in the Upper Village.

Jamie Zilinsky doesn't like deep fryers.

But who could ever be against the greasy goodness of fried foods, you ask?

Well, a man who strives to offer simple-yet-tasty casual fare that won't clog your arteries chock-full of fat, that's who.

"Whistler's always been a healthy town," said Zilinksky, the 43-year-old chef-owner of new Upper Village eatery Psycho Sliders. "I mean a lot of athletes come and train up here for the Olympics and stuff, so I wanted to offer the kind of food they can eat."

Since opening the doors to his classic diner on the ground floor of Le Chamois four months ago, Zilinsky has refused to compromise on quality, cooking the food he wants to cook 100-per-cent from scratch.

Having worked in resort kitchens over the past decade, it was an opportunity he wasn't always afforded.

"I wanted to run my own show," Zilinsky said of his entrepreneurial ambitions. "I just wanted to have the freedom to do my food rather than somebody else's."

Opening up his very own restaurant was a dream of Zilinsky's since attending Vancouver's Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts, and working in a smattering of resort restaurants only cemented that ambition.

His first culinary gig was at the since-closed Val D'Isere Restaurant, with stints along the way working in some of Whistler's most iconic kitchens: Quattro, Le Gros, and the Dubh Linn Gate, to name a few. He also spent a couple years at Richmond's West Coast Resorts as a sous chef and breakfast cook, as well as another two in chilly Churchill, Man. at the Polar Bear Lodge.

It was a period that helped Zilinsky gain an appreciation for the classic technique of some of Whistler's culinary old guard — the likes of which have either retired or passed away by now.

"The only old guy left is Antonio Corsi," he said of the longtime owner of Quattro.

But, thanks to Zilinsky, the Psycho Sliders menu will carry on the legacy of some of the pioneers of Whistler's nascent restaurant scene.

"For my dinner menu when it launches I'm trying to bring back a few items that Val D'Isere and Le Gros had on their menus, just to keep that tradition alive in Whistler," he said. "You'll never see that food again unless someone brings it back."

At the moment, Zilinksy is focused primarily on breakfast and lunch service, although Psycho Sliders opens for dinner on Friday and Saturday evenings. He said the last four restaurants that have occupied his current space, next door to Spicy Sports, have been breakfast-only joints, and he wants to break that trend.

Zilinsky's approach in the kitchen is pretty straightforward: Keep it simple by focusing on fresh, wholesome ingredients using tried and true preparations. Located a hop, skip and a jump from the Whistler Farmers Market certainly helps in that regard, with Zilinsky sourcing some of his ingredients from Pemberton's North Arm Farm.

His hearty breakfast is as no-frills as they come: The classic breakfast includes toast, eggs, your choice of meat and traditional pan fries. Or choose from a simple veggie or meat omelet, breakfast wraps and bagel sandwiches, buttermilk or berry pancakes, and his Greek yogurt parfait, made with his homemade granola and Abbotsford raspberries.

Then, of course, there are Zilinsky's namesake sliders — he makes nine varieties that should appeal to the wide range of Whistler's international visitors (although he admits to often having to explain what a slider is to his unfamiliar European guests).

There's the Thunder from Down Under, made from Grade AAA ground chuck, topped with aged cheddar, shredded beets, carrots and garlic aioli. Or maybe you prefer a taste of the Deutschland with the German Schweinhund, a pork schnitzel burger with slaw and Dijon caraway aioli. There's even something for Whistler's Filipino population, the Manila Thrilla, made with fried spam, lettuce, tomato and sweet onion relish. Staying true to his health-conscious focus, there are also three vegetarian sliders, and several gluten-free options included throughout the whole menu.

So with barbecue season in full swing, does Zilinsky have any tips for the amateur grillers out there hoping to craft their own delicious sliders?

"Stop! I want to make 'em myself," he laughs, "but if you have to make your own burger, keep it simple. Season it well, maybe add some onions — that's it."

Check out Psycho Sliders Facebook page for additional information.

Quinoa salad with orange pomegranate vinaigrette

Yield 4 salads

1 cup quinoa – dry

4 oz diced red onion

4 oz diced red pepper

4 oz diced green pepper

4 oz diced cucumber

4 oz diced tomato

(you can use any vegetables you prefer)

4 oz of mixed greens

8 oz Orange Pomegranate vinaigrette (recipe to follow)

1. Cook the quinoa in two cups of boiling salted water. It will triple in size. Let it cool.

2. Toss the mixed greens in 1 oz of the vinaigrette and divide onto four plates as a base.

3. Toss the quinoa and the vegetables in the rest of the vinaigrette and pile on the greens.

Orange Pomegranate Vinaigrette

1. Combine 4 oz fresh squeezed orange juice, 1 oz lemon juice, and 100 ml of pomegranate juice and reduce them on the stove over medium heat until you have ¼ cup.

2. In a blender, combine the juice reduction, ½ tbsp of Dijon mustard, ½ tsp salt, ¼ tsp pepper, ½ tbsp sugar.

3. Slowly blend in ¾ cup canola oil to form an emulsion.

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