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The Life of Riley

From coast to coast to Coast

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The Life of Riley

With its vaulted ceiling, centrepiece community table, and primarily piscine menu, Coast Restaurant (coastrestaurant.ca) lives by its motto: Catch, Cook, Eat. Embracing seasonality on a global level, the fresh fish sheet follows an international code of ethics and appeal.

With its vaulted ceiling, centrepiece community table, and primarily piscine menu, Coast Restaurant (coastrestaurant.ca) lives by its motto: Catch, Cook, Eat. Embracing seasonality on a global level, the fresh fish sheet follows an international code of ethics and appeal.

Tucked into Vancouver’s Yaletown, Coast’s food philosophy taps into local bounty, but is globally inspired, celebrating the bounty of coastal cultures around the world. For Executive Chef/Partner Sean Riley, the challenge is not only cooking, but educating and entertaining. Holding court at the community table with two frying pans and a passion for fish dishes, he has been dreaming up fresh creations on a nightly basis since opening Coast almost two years ago.

“The community table is a real draw; the dishes we create there are off the menu and made with the catch of the day,” said Chef Riley. “I like to show people what we can do with a couple of pans, fresh ingredients, and a flame. It challenges us, and it lets them come in nightly and never have the same dish.”

Letting the tides set the flow of the menu, Riley emerges each month with a seasonal promotion that showcases the familiar and the foreign alike. Spring salmon, halibut, scallops, monkfish, sablefish, sea urchins: each swim into Coast in their seasonal cycle and each is addressed in the same fashion.

“I never want to hide good food,” explained Riley. “We seek out the freshest supply sources, so we want to let the food speak for itself by combining local ingredients and keeping the sauce and seasoning to a minimum.”

Having begun his culinary career at the age of 16, Riley headed east, trained under Susur Lee, and apprenticed with Culinary Team Canada before returning to the West Coast. Back on home turf, he honed his talents with the likes of Cioppinno’s and Brix before capturing critical acclaim at Coast’s sister restaurant Glowbal Satay Bar and Grill. He has been teaching us to fish ever since.

Uncomplicated and honest seafood is something that people have come to expect from Coast, albeit elevated to the level of edible art by Riley’s presentation and showmanship. For Riley, the ever-increasing curiosity of the clientele is its own reward.

“I think food means something different now. Cooking used to be something you ‘had’ to do, but more and more people are approaching it in the spirit of fun, both for health and as a hobby,” he said. “We like to think we’re helping people discover how simple it is to get a ton of flavour out of fresh product in a relatively short period of time.”

Recipes

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