When I ask Eric Pateman if he'd be willing to do this column, he jokingly warned me there are so many condiments in his fridge there's hardly room for anything else.
This is the same guy who, the week before, pulled off a five-course dinner inside Granville Island Public Market featuring B.C. products for two dozen nattily dressed CEOs of the world's largest international airports. Many of the ingredients came from Eric's own business in the market, Edible BC, which features some 900 products, most of them from around the province.
Potential suppliers drop off 30-40 samples every month at the shop, so you can imagine what a variety of condiments might come to agglomerate on the shelves of his family's GE Profile stainless steel refrigerator. It sits on the open-plan second floor of a three-level townhouse in Garibaldi Highlands with great views of Howe Sound and surrounding mountains.
Eric shares the home with his wife, Gail, and their young daughters, two-and-a-half-year-old Meiko and Aya, who's almost one. At least he does when his business, which includes gourmet kayaking, private catering, and chef-guided market tours, doesn't keep him in Vancouver or send him on the road, to Toronto, for instance, to check out what's new in the culinary world. Last trip, the best meal he had was a rare seared horse heart with horse tongue confit and French fries cooked in horse fat. And people were lined up for it.
As we pull open the fridge doors, what we find is just as he warned: condiments - lots and lots of condiments. On the top two shelves alone are 33, and on the door shelves, another 16. It's what you'd expect from someone who started cooking commercially in his uncle's White Rock restaurant when he was 12 and went on to an international career in hotel and restaurant management/consulting.
Even Eric admits it's a bit much. Some condiments are probably five or six years old and, as we all find, it's hard to dump them. You never know when you might need them, right?
"But I do toss them out when weird things appear on top, like crystals on the jams," he laughs.
To name a few, there's what Eric and others consider to be the best pesto anywhere, from Sonja Cameron's Sunday Farm near Brackendale. Also, two Rabbit Hill Farm jams from Vancouver Island; Okanagan Herb Farm's lavender jelly; basil pesto from Italy; three different condiments made from quinces; mint sauce from England; buckwheat honey from Manitoba; and XO Sauce made right at Dollar Meat Store in Vancouver's Chinatown - delicious on rice.