The flavours of the Four Seasons around the world are melding in Whistler at the hands of its new executive chef Eren Guryel.
He has arrived with the panache of New York, the confidence of Chicago, the spice of Shanghai, the flair of Tokyo and the warmth of Hawaii.
Take his chicken wings, part of the newly minted Sidecut bar menu launched this week.
They are called Kung Pao Chicken Wings, with no extra dip in sight.
Guryel uses a technique called "velveting" — a method used in Chinese cuisine for preserving the moisture of meat while cooking.
When it comes to chicken wings, this dish is different and delicious.
With just over a month on the job, Guryel in bringing world flavours to the table with an aim at having a broader community appeal to the upscale Sidecut Modern Steak and Bar in the tony hotel.
"In all the places where I've worked, this is the one that most closely resembles where I'm from," said Guryel.
"I think we can hit the home run here."
Guryel grew up in his family's steakhouse, located on the highway on the way to Killington Ski Resort in Vermont.
It was called "Sevi's," named after his mother — a place where he started washing dishes, slowly working his way around the restaurant from the salad station to the grill, learning all aspects of the job.
"I knew how to do everything," he said.
And there was the skiing too, of course, at Killington.
Guryel was set to study aeronautical engineering at university, but after working summers in kitchens he soon realized where his true passion lay — back in the kitchen and he soon found himself at the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York.
His first job was in the Four Seasons New York. Guryel remembers the long staff hallway at that hotel, lined with photos of the Four Seasons around the world, photos of doormen holding the main doors open with the location printed below — "Taipei." "Bangkok." "Tokyo."
"I wanted to go there," he said of the far-off places beckoning on that wall. And so he worked his way up: Four Seasons Hotel Shanghai, Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo at Marunouchi, the Ritz-Carlton Chicago (a Four Seasons hotel) and others in the U.S., and most recently the Four Seasons Resort Lana'i in Hawaii.
Not to mention his eight-month stint at the Michelin three star Per Se in New York, Thomas Keller's New York version of The French Laundry.
Those 16-hour days were jam-packed, working alongside the best chefs in the world.
It was difficult. And yet...
"I learned so much about cooking," said Guryel.
But perhaps the most important thing he learned was "having a sense of urgency."
"You're going at full speed as fast as you can, as clean as you can."
And so he brings to the mountains the precision of French cooking and its scientific techniques. And he has the diversity in style from China. He also channels his Turkish Cypriot roots and the melding of flavours from Africa and Europe and the Balkans and Asia that come together on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea.
You can already taste the flavours at Sidecut.
The new Sidecut bar menu launches this week featuring not just Kung Pao chicken wings, but also a host of share plates from spiced chicken nachos to spicy yuzu tuna tartare, as well as dishes like fish and chips and vegetarian Thai curry with coconut.
Sidecut Bar features live music from local artists every Thursday to Saturday from 6-9 p.m. starting July 1.
The award-winning steakhouse is open throughout the summer too.
Kung Pao Chicken Wings
- 100 g of flour
- 150 ml of soy sauce
- 12 g of onion powder
- 8 g of ginger powder
Combine dry ingredients and add soy sauce. Mix thickness to pancake batter.
Drip drum sticks into batter, place on perforated pan and steam for 15 minutes. Cool.
- 80 g of olive oil
- 11 g of Sichuan peppercorns
- 16 g of chili flakes
- 56 g of peanuts
- 120 g of Japanese bread crumbs (Panko)
Heat up oil in sauce pan and steep peanuts peppercorns and chili flakes in oil.
Mix Panko in oil and toast under the broil. Reserve.
Kung Pao Sauce
- 90 g of dry sherry
- 46 g of sambal
- 24 g of sesame oil
- 9 g of ginger
- 5 g of garlic
- 8 g of green onion stems
In a saucepan sweat ginger and garlic in sesame oil, add green onions and cooking wine, let simmer for a minute. Add sesame oil and puree, cool and reserve.
Fry the chicken wings at 350F until internal temp of 165F is attained, then remove from oil and place into metal bowl. Pour in enough of the sauce to coat the wings, then place the wings onto serving plate, and top with the spiced bread crumbs and enjoy.