Food and Drink 

What's in Cousars' what-the-hell fridge?

On the shelves with a homegrown catering treasure

 

For someone who can whip up, and I quote, really awesome, wicked, high-end private dinners, or serve 30,000 meals one fine Olympic Games day - even winning, along with his wife, Hilarie, a national best-of award on behalf of their company, Whistler Cooks Catering - Grant Cousar has a wonderfully down-home, unpretentious fridge.

That goes for both the contents and the fridge, which Grant himself calls "pretty ugly." The fridge also causes his designer-type friends to go, what the hell? when they visit for it juts out in the Cousar family home in Black Tusk like the monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey.

The Cousars' what-the-hell fridge is one of those old, side-by-side KitchenAids from the days when it was "special" to have fridges panelled in wood that matched your kitchen cabinets.

The effect isn't so special any more, thank goodness. But for now this KitchenAid remains covered in dark green wood panelling with the exception of one exposed side, which Grant and Hilarie covered with chalkboard paint for notes, pictures and the all-important height records of their kids - Hannah, 12, and eight-year-old Stephen.

As monolithic anchor, this fridge is also emblematic of all things eminently practical in family and work life, so we find ketchup - Stephen's all-time favourite poured on nearly everything except cereal - along with Whistler Cooks condiments, naturally.

"You can't live on foie gras," says Grant. "I work, I've got two kids and a busy life, so I'm just as happy to come home and have a potato, broccoli and a piece of chicken. Just because I know how to cook doesn't mean I want to eat rich, opulent food all the time, because at the end of the day it's all about balancing basic nutrition."

So as we open the fridge door, what else would we find but that staple of Canadian nutrition - beer. A couple of bottles of Vancouver Island Brewery's Piper's Pale Ale, to be exact, along with Liberty yogurt, a can of soda, and bright yellow No Name mustard - kids' mustard, Grant calls it.

Next is some Happy Planet juice; a little jar of Hellman's mayonnaise; Caesar salad dressing from work; Kikkoman soy sauce; Dairyland sour cream; a jar of Mott's applesauce; and some Heinz hot dog relish. (Grant has no idea how the relish got there. He doesn't use it; the kids don't use it. So we put it down to one more artifact from the world of nuclear preserves where nothing goes bad.)

Moving down, we find a much, much bigger bottle of soy sauce. The kids love rice - brown, basmati, any kind of rice - with soy sauce; and Grant and Hilarie love sushi, too. Every night they could cook pasta or rice for the kids, which they don't; but they do both cook at home, with most suppers in Hilarie's court.

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