V.I.A.’s Home Grown features only the most awesome companies in Vancouver. From tiny, single-person operations to the big players, we profile our favourite businesses and interview their owners.
Chambar has very quickly become one of Vancouver’s favorite restaurants since opening in September 2004, thanks to its scrumptious menu (oh, the Congolaise Moule Frites!) and its long, admirable list of Belgian brews.
Founders Karri and Nico Schuermans continue to make a mark on the local restaurant and food scene with Caffe Medina, located right next to Chambar (and infamous for being lined up on weekends for those hot skillet brunches). The husband-and-wife team also recently cut ribbon on The Dirty Apron Cooking School, headed by former Chambar Sous-Chef, David Robertson.
We got Karri and Nico to answer a few questions…
If Chambar is known for only one thing amongst it’s customers, what would it be?
Civilized Debauchery, and an addiction to constantly evolving – (we get bored easily).
Aside from your own, what’s your favourite Vancouver business, and why?
Karri:Renewal Partners & Cause+Affect
Joel Solomon and his team are changing Vancouver for the better. Believing that business must contribute to the common good. They are early pioneers in the social investment field who focus on the important emerging new products and services needed for sustainability, and are making this happen in Vancouver. Our current Mayor has some amazing strength and support from Solomon who’s probably one of this City’s most determined, yet humble movers and shakers. He helped us find the tools to commit to a triple bottom line – People, planet, profits. Curious? – http://www.vanmag.com/News_and_Features/The_Unlikely_Revolutionary_0
This company not only has an amazing aesthetic, but has rooted itself in so many segments of the business and design community, that they’re tireless efforts have made a significant impact on Vancouver being it’s own individual entity as a trendsetter – rather than simply lagging behind big cities like London, & New York. They have instigated a movement that encourages people to become less apathetic in their expectations. Just because we are surrounded by mediocrity, doesn’t mean we should accept it.
What is your personal favorite dish and Belgian brew at the restaurant?
Daytime from Medina –
Le Poulet – Tortilla wrapped lemon chipotle chicken, parmesean, cheese, avocado and tomato.
Night time from Chambar –
The Duck, mostly because the crab apples come from our friends place on Galliano – www.bodegaridge.com
Le canard aux epices – Spice rubbed duck breast, butternut squash puree, maple roasted crab apples, whipped goats cheese & tamarind gastrique.
Nico: The Steak – always, until scotch is considered sustenance.
L’entrecote grillee d’argentine
Grilled AAA ribeye steak & chimichurri. Charred tomato & chorizo fingerling potatoes, baby arugula & watercress.
Favourite beer is Chambar Ale (biased of course) but when you create a beer you like, to be enjoyed with food & friends that can stand up to the flavours of Chambar menu – it fits the bill!
Chambar Ale: In heaven there is no beer, that’s why we drink it here!
What keeps you here? Like what’s the best thing about Vancouver?
Karri: The people, and the opportunity.
When I first came to Vancouver someone told me “The best thing about Vancouver is that anyone can come here, have a dream, work hard and get it”. We started Chambar with a $5K credit card & a good business plan. (Can’t say I recommend taking this route unless you enjoy living off baked beans for a couple months). There are such a broad range of people in Vancouver that make life interesting – and good people. I was born and raised in New Zealand so Vancouver feels like home, not just because of the geography, but the diversity of life. Get dirty all day in the mud or snow, then dress up, dine at world class restaurants, dance all night, wake up and take your kids skiing (we’ll sleep when we’re dead). The journey is as important as the destination! – we can do that here.
Nico: The accessability.
That “Vancouver is just a beautiful place” is only a cliche if you don’t get out and take part in the outdoors. Whether snowmobiling on the Pemberton Ice cap or dirt biking in Litton, there’s so much to experience. I don’t know any other City in the world where you have such close access to the outdoors and a vibrant urban lifestyle. Coming from Belgium, the culture of Vancouver is so young, sometimes this is frustrating as there isn’t an appreciation of quality, but at the same time there aren’t the invisible barriers. In Belgium, you have to work 7 days a week, and live and breath being a Chef to be taken seriously. Here you can do this, but still have a life.