(l-r): Andrew Springett, Chris Mills, Quang Dang, Ray Henry, Dino Renaerts, Scott Baechler, Michael Noble

One of Vancouver’s flagship restaurants, Diva at the Met celebrated its 15th anniversary last night with a gala dinner (benefitting Big Brothers) that featured an extraordinary array of culinary talent.

In a whirl: Quang Dang and John Blakeley, Tim Pawsey blurry pic

The hotel business is by nature a mobile affair, where personnel—including those in food and beverage—move around frequently.  Hence it was even greater testament to the Metropolitan Hotel that six of seven executive chefs who’ve lent their talents over the last 15 years returned to prepare a course for the Div[a]ine Evolution gala banquet. Only legendary pastry wizard Thomas Haas (the former executive pastry chef whose edgy creations also helped establish Diva in its early days) was unable to be present—though he made sure guests were treated to a duo of his hallmark desserts, and chocolates.

Former GM Jeremy Roncoroni and opening exec chef Michael Noble, Tim Pawsey photo

Diva’s story very much parallels the rise and maturing of BC’s regional cuisine. Hence it was appropriate that the menu was bookended by current executive chef Quang Dang, who took over in 2010, and by opening executive chef Michael Noble (now owner of Calgary’s No-ta-ble). Completing the team of alumni were Scott Baechler (The Pear Tree), Chris Mills (Joey), Ray Henry (consultant, Relish, St. John) and Dino Renaerts (Fraiche, Beachside Forno). Former Diva restaurant chef Andrew Springett (Black Rock Resort) prepared reception canapés.

In addition to the luminaries, the kitchen included many others who’ve worked at Diva over the years, while the service brigade was coordinated (no small feat) by opening restaurant manager John Blakeley (owner of Bistro Pastis). Also on hand for the celebration was former Metropolitan GM Jeremy Roncoroni (GM St. Regis Hotel), who was instrumental in expanding the Diva cellar with the best of BC wines.

Originally, we weren’t going to single out menu highlights but in the clear light of day we’re still marveling at Chef Quang Dang’s opening salvo of shaved Pemberton root vegetables.  The colourful assortment, a score of wrapped cylinders (Quang joked each one had been personally curled around his little finger), arrived as a classic, quite startling Diva understatement—until tasted, that is, with the chef’s vibrant sweet chili lime gel underneath. The pairing with JoieFarm A Noble Blend 2010 was arguably the best of the night, in a parade of  carefully chosen, (for the most part) premium Okanagan drops.

Chris Mills' cinnamon cured duck, Tim Pawsey photo

If you couldn’t be there, the good news is that Diva is offering the Div[a]ine Evolution line-up as a $95 tasting menu, paired with the same wines (optional) through the end of April.

Indeed, it’s an array of plates from a star-studded cast who have certainly done more than their share to help put BC (and elsewhere) on the culinary map.

Thomas Haas pink grapefruit sorbet, Tim Pawsey photo

 

From the press release: