If Richard Wolak wasn’t as successful at being Vancouver Foodster, maybe he could join the circus – because the man can juggle a schedule like no other!
When Richard isn’t gallivanting around Vancouver eating tons of delicious food at the latest restaurant opening or launch party, he’s hard at work organizing other established events like Food Talks, which is soon approaching its fourth session. Gathering knowledgeable industry names and other food enthusiasts together for a night of great food and spirited conversation, the event attracts speakers from some of the city’s most established and start-up businesses.
We finally met Richard last month at the Kitsilano edition of his Tasting Plates Vancouver. The night played out like a bit of a scavenger hunt around the neighborhood, with the stand-outs being Establishment Lounge, Vancouver Olive Oil Company, and the Chocolate Arts Café. Let’s just say, who knew three hours of eating could be so tiring (and fun).
We had the opportunity to chat with Richard and ask him more about what he does, why it’s important to him, and what he loves most about his job as a professional foodie.
How did Tasting Plates get started?
When I first started Vancouver Foodster over three years ago, it was because I had a great passion for food and wanted to share it with the public. Tasting Plates is a chance for people to try something different, foods from restaurants, food trucks, cafés and bakeries in Vancouver. It is a social experience as much as it is a tasting experience, you get to explore a neighborhood, taste a multitude of dishes, visit some restaurants you may have not visited previously, meet new people along the way, tweet, instagram and facebook your favourite dishes, restaurants and people you have met.
[Editor's note: the next Tasting Plates takes place on Wednesday November 21, 2012 in Chinatown, Strathcona and surrounding areas. Tickets are available online. Find out more at http://ww.VancouverFoodster.com and follow Richard on Twitter].
Why do you think it’s important for restaurants to get involved?
With 4,000 restaurants in Vancouver alone, much of the media tends to focus on the top 100. I know there are many more great restaurants in the city and this event is a great way to showcase some of the hidden gems to the public who may have never heard of them. With an 85% failure rate of new restaurants, they need to find ways to attract people to their restaurants, Tasting Plates is an event that can put a restaurant on the map so to speak. The restaurants that have participated in my events, have all thanked me for bringing them new customers and huge social media awareness that they would have never been able to achieve on their own.
Being such an established food writer, what’s the best thing about your job?
It’s two fold. I often have the inside scoop on what the chefs are doing, dishes they are creating, ingredients they are using and with this knowledge I know which restaurants I want to dine at. Secondly, I am now able to educate the public on where to eat, what to eat and why they should eat the foods that they do. Education is so important and that is one of the reasons that I launched my Food Talks series this year, it was to educate the public about the great people we have in the food community, as well it was to support the Growing Chefs charity who educates to children in the classrooms.
Your least favorite?
Worrying about gaining weight as I am often eating such rich food.
Where are some of your new fave places to eat?
Do you order the same thing twice, or usually opt for something new?
This is a great question. Usually I try new dishes, however I am in love with two dishes at East of Main Café and have repeatedly ordered them on each visit: the Almond Duqqa and the Honey Coca.
What’s your idea of the perfect day?
I am fortunate to be able to eat at great restaurants around the city, attend live theatre, concerts, dance performances, see art shows and indulge in the wonderful arts culture we have in the city. My perfect day includes interviewing a chef or celebrity, dinner at one of the many great restaurants, followed by a play, concert or film.
Together since 2009, The Food Gays are two Vancouver men who love food. Join them every two weeks right here on GayVancouver.Net as they bring you something tasty.