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Chef's Choice: Zeb Keen

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If you thought it was sugary energy drinks and borderline lunacy fuelling Whistler's mountain bike community, you would only be partially correct.

If you're a dedicated local pedalhead, you're probably already familiar with Garbanzo Bike & Bean — but not just because it's the official store of the Whistler Mountain Bike Park and a one-stop shop for all your downhill needs. It also serves up a mean burger, along with an assortment of other tasty treats and refreshing bevvies to get you set for a full day of rippin'.

Zeb Keen is the food and beverage supervisor at Garbanzo, and the 24-year-old native of Adelaide, Australia started at Whistler Blackcomb four years ago making coffees and sandwiches before moving up the ranks. He's overseen some pretty big changes at the retail, rental and repair shop, including a long overdue replacement of the store's barbecue, which came just in time to pack Garbanzo's patio to the gills during the 10-day celebration of all things mountain biking, Crankworx.

"Certainly with our new barbecue, the emphasis has really been on quality," Keen said. "Before our barbecue was still good, but definitely nowhere near what it is now. That's been a big focus this year."

Before the new grill was installed two weeks ago, the patio was home to your average backyard barbecue tucked behind a concrete counter. Now, Garbanzo has an enclosed grill to call its own with a hood to keep the smoke away, and additional prep space for the cooks to do their thing — all the better to house the range of new toppings available to hungry customers.

"Certainly, we have a lot more variety, too," said Keen. "Before we just did the average lettuce, tomato, onion on top of the burger, but now you can get put banana peppers, jalapenos and tons of different sauces on there. It's really about being able to personalize your own burger, as opposed to being the same as everyone else's."

There's also a chicken or veggie quinoa burger available, so you don't have to weigh yourself down before hitting your gnarly jump of choice.

And if you think a bike shop should stay out of the burger biz and stick to what they do best, Keen has a few words.

"Everyone I've talked to, whether it's been locals I don't know who have come up to order a burger, or people just visiting here, have said it's been really good," he said. "A lot of people have come back and actually said it was a top burger, or 'the best I've had in Whistler' — I've gotten that one a couple times."

But if two-fisted burgers aren't really your thing, don't fret; Garbanzo also has a wide selection of quick-grab food to keep you riding park from morning 'til night, including various wraps, paninis baguettes, breakfast bagels, samosas and sausage rolls. Not to mention an assortment of scrumptious baked goods and espresso-based drinks for your caffeine fix. Garbanzo has also partnered with Odwalla, a California-based company that serves up nutritious smoothies and fruit juices. The shop uses Odwalla's strawberry banana, mango, pomegranate and berry smoothie bases, to which thirsty guests can add a hit of protein or yogurt as well.

The café has actually been such a hit at the base of Carleton Lodge that it's not just the diehard shredders who frequent the place — even the international tourists who don't know their head from their handlebars have been drawn in by Garbanzo's grub.

"I've had so many people walk into Garbanzo Bike and Bean and have no idea about biking," explained Keen. "So we certainly get all those people in here, and everyone walking around Skier's Plaza sees us right out on the patio, so from that side of things, we don't have as much association with the bike shop ... and we certainly get people in with the smell, and obviously if there's a line there, people get sucked in that way, too."

So if you're feeling the annual Crankworx hangover, and finding it harder to drag your dust-covered self out of bed in the morning to go for a rip in the bike park, pay a visit to the good people over at Garbanzo Bike and Bean — chance are, they might just have what you need to get those wheels spinning again.

Moroccan-Style CousCous Salad

Ingredients

2 tbsp Olive Oil

1 Brown Onion, diced

1 Red Pepper, diced

2 cloves of Garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon each of Cinnamon, Cumin, Dried Ginger

1 cup Couscous

1 cup Chickpeas, rinsed and drained

1 cup Raisins

1/2 cup Dried Apricots, sliced

1 cup Orange Juice

1 cup Water

Sea Salt and Cracked Pepper to season

Preparation

1. In a saucepan, sauté the onion, red pepper, garlic and spices in olive oil over medium heat.

2. Once tender, add all other ingredients to the saucepan. Bring to a simmer and then reduce heat to maintain. Cover with a lid and let it simmer away until the couscous is soft and has absorbed all the liquid. This should take 10-15min.

3. You're done! I prefer to serve chilled, especially during the summer months, but it is just as tasty served hot beside lamb shanks or ribs. 

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