Paired with Goodness Me American Oatmeal Stout from Herald Street Brew Works
Chris Klassen grew up in Victoria and developed a love for food and cooking at a young age. He studied cooking at Camosun College and then worked as a cook at various local restaurants, including Brasserie L’École and Agrius. He followed Chef Sam Harris from Agrius to the Courtney Room when it opened in the lobby of the Magnolia Hotel and Spa, and then became co-Chef de Cuisine there along with Brian Tesolin when Harris departed in 2019.
“We did lots of fun things there, but like many other people I’ve been looking at my life through the COVID lens and trying to figure out where I was going,” Klassen recently said. “I had just bought a house and I’m still waiting to get married for the last two years.”
When the Drake Eatery, Victoria’s popular beer-focused taphouse located in historic Market Square, advertised for a new Head Chef, Klassen applied. Owners Mike and Lee Spence were excited to invite him to lead their kitchen team.
Klassen started at the Drake during the indoor dining ban so while there were some customers to serve on the patio on fair-weather days, he had lots of time to work on menu planning for the future.
“I’ve been a passionate diner and imbiber here for many, many years and now I get to be influencing one of my favourite places in town.”
“I just want to do what the beer program is doing,” he explained, describing how his seasonal menu will reflect the way the Drake’s beer menu always has certain categories, but within those styles the beers are always changing.
His role at the Drake also involves creating food to be served at Herald Street Brew Works, the Drake’s sister brewery, which opened a couple blocks away in December, 2020. “I wanted to do something a little bit different that no one else is doing in town.” He came up with a unique, deep-dish pizza with a focaccia-style crust that has been a big hit there. “They’re fluffy and chewy and crispy and we can put whatever we want on them.”
For a fall food-and-beer pairing Klassen suggested this squash dip, which was inspired by a recipe from the Jerusalem cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi. “I’ve developed somewhat of a reputation for dips and the Drake is the perfect place for it. You want people to be able to share and have something that’s pretty easygoing.” —Joe Wiebe
• 1 medium acorn squash (or other dry winter squash)
• 60 ml grapeseed oil
• 1 tbsp salt
• 2 cloves peeled garlic
• 75 ml rice vinegar
• 250 ml tahini
• 250 ml ice water
• 750 ml chickpeas (drained)
• 200 ml olive oil
• sesame seeds
• date syrup/dark maple syrup
1. Peel, seed and dice squash into 1″ square pieces. Toss in 60 ml grapeseed oil and 1 tbsp of salt. Roast at 350ºF on a lined sheet tray until tender and lightly browned. Decrease temperature if you see excessive colouring. Cool completely before using for recipe.
2. Combine garlic and rice vinegar in a food
processor and blend until garlic is well chopped.
3. Add tahini and blend to a paste, then slowly blend in ice water until smooth.
4. Add chickpeas and continue blending until mostly smooth, then slowly drizzle in olive oil.
5. Add roasted squash and purée lightly until combined.
6. Spoon mixture into a serving bowl, then sprinkle sesame seeds and drizzle syrup over top.
7. Serve with fresh sourdough or foccaccia bread.