Owner and chef Rob Cassels in his restaurant Saveur. Don Denton photography

Inspired Chef with Rob Cassels

Saveur chef is best known for his vegetarian dishes

  • Sep. 13, 2018 10:30 a.m.

Where were you born and where did you grow up?

I was born and raised in Victoria.

Where did you train?

I started at age 12 in my godparents’ French restaurant, Antoine’s. I worked in small restaurants and bakeries throughout high school and was running a kitchen by age 18. After I graduated, I decided to visit Paris to stage and learn classic French styles. Back home I eventually worked my way up to sous chef at Feyes and Hobbs Catering under Chef David Feyes before branching out on my own.

How long at your current restaurant?

I’ve had Saveur for five years. The first two were spent building it from an empty shell. This was a challenging time as the project—of course—came in over budget and almost plunked before it started! It was just me and a few small investors and partners, so we had to work hard to get the space done. Saveur recently celebrated three years of being open for business though, and each year we do a little more to improve our space.

What are you best known for as a chef?

Honestly, I think my vegetarian dishes receive the most recognition. I love working with our local farmers and making vegetables the centre stage in my Tasting Menus. I think a lot of vegetarians are used to their meals being fairly standardized and people are pleased to see some creative options presented.

What are the 10 or so most important ingredients in your pantry?

There’s always the basics in the pantry, but I try to get out to the farms at least three times a week to see what’s fresh on the stands, and draw my inspiration from there.

What’s your favourite dish to cook and eat on a warm summer day?

Chilled soups are one of my favourites. Summer desserts are always fun to play with as well. Last year we did a play on s’mores with loganberry marshmallows, house-made graham crackers and white chocolate “Aero bars.”

What’s your go-to item when sampling other chefs’ fare?

I definitely like to let the chef get creative if that’s an option and choose for me.

Hobbies?

It’s a high demand industry, especially balancing being both the chef and the owner. On my days off I spend time with my family, walk my dog, take my son to the beach. I love home projects and doing renovations. If possible, a glass of wine on the deck with a cookbook is nice!

Anything else we should know?

Well, Saveur is a bit off the beaten track on Herald Street, so if you’re local and haven’t been in, we’d love to see you! We do specialize in Chef’s Tasting Menus in the evening, but also feature a more casual à la carte menu every night, and we recently opened for brunch.

Can you share an easy, seasonal recipe for a quick bite this summer?

My wife would say I’m not capable of doing anything simple for meals! Here’s a great sauce that can be used for anything from fish to beef to chicken, and even as a tomato salad dressing.

RECIPE:

SALSA VERDE

2 cups fresh mint

1 cup fresh basil leaves

1 cup fresh parsley

2 ounces of canola oil

Juice of 2 limes

½ clove microplaned garlic

Sea salt

Blend all ingredients except basil.

Once blended, add basil and blend again until smooth.

Salt to taste

Use the same day, or freeze to use later. Delicious on fish, chicken, steak, on tacos, or as a salad dressing!

-Story by Angela Cowan

Story courtesy of Boulevard Magazine, a Black Press Media publication

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