Ian McHale is the Executive Chef at Wildebeest Restaurant. The restaurant is located in a refurbished 19th century building in Gastown, Vancouver. They focus on "deliciously decadent yet simple country cooking", offering a "farm-to-table menu that focuses on local ingredients, prepared with integrity, and paired with a diverse selection of Old and New World wines and a carefully crafted cocktail list". To get to know Ian and to learn what drives him as a chef, we asked him a few questions and to share one of his favorite recipes.
What do you like to cook and why?
"Funny enough, I became a chef because of a bet I made with friends during a blizzard eleven years ago. Out of the three of us, I’m the only one still cooking. I ventured into many different fields in my younger years, but when I discovered cooking, I fell completely in love with it.
I’ve always been surrounded by food. Growing up my mother was always cooking. Every important decision in my life was made over a home-cooked meal and that really resonated with me in later years. I can only hope that when people leave Wildebeest, I have helped impact their lives in a positive way.
I like to think of my cooking style as very simplistic, but with a lot of technique. At Wildebeest, we make it a priority to find the best local ingredients from our local farmers and then make those ingredients the best versions of themselves. Sometimes all you need is a little bit of salt, other times it's a 48-hour process to get what you need out of that ingredient."
What is your best cooking tip?
"Salt, and a lot of it. Your blanching water should always taste like the sea. Go out and buy some damn Maldon (salt) and keep it in your cupboard to finish proteins. I guarantee everyone will thank you for it."
What is one thing you would change about the restaurant industry if you had the power?
"It’s no secret that kitchen hours are sometimes unrelenting. Starting out, I had a head chef that told me to never do the hourly conversion. It's a bit of a systemic problem where I’d like to see a collective change."
Which dishes on your current menu do you most recommend to diners?
"I always recommend our Ravioli dish to our diners. It’s a fan favourite, and we have an open concept kitchen, so it's a lot of fun when you see guests take that first bite and then fight for the last."
Why did you choose this recipe to share?
"It's a fun recipe to make at home. For Christmas every year, instead of having a turkey or ham, my family would make homemade ravioli for dinner. We’d make the ravioli, drink wine, laugh, get flour everywhere, make a mess, and just have a great time together."
Recipe: Vacche Rosse Ravioli - mushroom consommé, garlic purée, spruce tip, pickled mushrooms.
500ml hot water
Add saffron to hot water. Allow to steep for minimum one hour.
250g Vacche Rosse Parmesan (finely chopped)
100g all-purpose flour
100g unsalted butter (diced)
• In a heavy bottomed pot melt butter.
• Once butter is melted, whisk in flour to make a blonde roux.
• Cook roux out for two minutes, whisking repeatedly.
• Slowly add cold milk in two to four stages until mixture has a thick, smooth consistency.
• Remove from heat and whisk in the Vacche Rosse cheese.
• Once incorporated, blend until smooth in a blender.
• Remove and leave to cool overnight with parchment on top.
• The next day, add ravioli filling to piping bags.
500g OO flour
130g egg yolk
125g saffron water (see recipe above)
2.5g Kosher salt
7.5g olive oil
• Combine dried ingredients by hand or with mixer.
• Slowly incorporate the wet ingredients until a dough forms.
• At this point, the dough should stretch in your hand and fold over itself without breaking. If it looks "crumby" add a small bit more of the saffron water.
• Roll out pasta dough until you can see your hand through the other side of the dough.
• Cut dough in half and reserve other side for top of ravioli.
• Pipe ravioli filling (see recipe above) onto dough to your required size.
• Place top sheet of dough and punch with a ravioli punch.
• Place onto a tray dusted with semolina or flour and place in fridge until ready to cook.
Mushroom Broth: (makes 2L)
2 large onions (sliced)
1 leek (roughly chopped)
½ lb. Cremini mushrooms (finely chopped)
½ lb. Portobello mushrooms (finely chopped)
6 garlic cloves (crushed)
2 sprigs of thyme
Soy sauce (to taste)
• In a heavy bottomed pot, caramelized the onions, leeks and garlic.
• Add thyme and mushrooms.
• Cover with water and simmer for two to four hours.
• Remove mushroom broth from heat and pass into another pot.
• Reduce until you are happy with the intensity of mushroom flavour.
• Season to taste with soy.
100g garlic (peeled)
250ml heavy whipping cream
• Add garlic to pot, cover with water and bring to a boil.
• Repeat the process seven times, straining and then adding fresh water each time.
• Once you have strained the last batch of water, cover the garlic with heavy whipping cream.
• Reduce cream by exactly half.
• Blend until smooth.
Spruce Tip Oil:
1Tbsp. spruce tip
100ml canola oil
A handful of spinach
Add spruce tip, spinach and oil to blender and blend on high until the oil splits. Let hang in cheesecloth and then place clarified oil in bottle.
100ml sherry vinegar
100g caster sugar
100g Shmeiji mushrooms
Incorporate all ingredients except the mushrooms in a sauce pot and bring to boil. In a separate heat-proof container add mushrooms. Once pickling liquid has come to boil pour over mushrooms. Reserve until ready to use.
- Bring a sauce pot filled with heavily seasoned water to a boil.
- Add raviolis to boiling water and cook for 90 seconds then remove.
- In a separate pot, bring mushroom broth to a boil and add your choice of wild mushrooms.
- Add mushroom broth to a shallow bowl along with your ravioli.
- Pipe dots of garlic puree into bowl and generously drizzle the spruce tip oil.
- Finish with the pickled mushrooms and – if you're feeling fancy – some freshly shaved truffle!
If you live in Vancouver or are visiting soon check out Wildebeest!