Blue Water Cafe – 5th Annual Unsung Heroes

Vancouver, B.C. – Executive chef Frank Pabst knows his meroir. Long a champion of our coastal fisheries, and fiercely protective of commercially endangered species, five years ago Pabst turned his hand to the promotion of under-recognized seafood. The Unsung Heroes Festival, now in its fifth anniversary year, celebrates that very ethic, deliciously.

Pabst’s concept is straightforward: Avoid species that are over-fished, or fished in ways that damage ocean beds or cause unnecessary by-catch.


This November, Pabst took one unsung hero–the red sea urchin–all the way to the top of the podium at the Olympic Gold Medal Plates culinary competition, winning the Vancouver gold for a dish that’s quite a mouthful.

“His dish was a bold one,” said head judge and Toronto Life magazine food writer James Chatto, “involving the (for some guests) challenging flavour of local red sea urchin. Chef Pabst mitigated the pungency by turning the urchin meat into a mousse blended with sweet Qualicum Beach scallop, glazed with a fine ponzu jelly. Beneath the mousse was a crunchy, refreshing salad of chopped wakame seaweed and leek. Beside it was a cloud of cucumber vichyssoise foam, its ethereal texture in contrast to the distinctive cucumber flavour, and on top of the foam lay a semi-translucent white pearl of sake and yuzu liquid jelly. A nori crisp. Brittle and tissue-thin, provided a different texture.”

Now a best-seller at Blue Water Cafe, the winning sea urchin plate [pictured right] will join other unsung tasting dishes during the month-long festival in February, including grilled mackerel with romesco sauce and green onion and sardines with smoked eggplant, roasted red pepper and zucchini.

By introducing diners to new flavours and experiences, Pabst promises a savoury education.

“At this time of year, fresh wild salmon and halibut are out of season – this is the ideal time to experiment and explore new potentials,” says Pabst, noting “All of our unsung heroes live in abundance along our coast and are often overlooked in favour of better known varieties, though they can be equally tasty and highly nutritional.”

The Unsung Heroes Festival runs throughout February. Ten per cent of proceeds will be donated to the Vancouver Aquarium’s Ocean Wise sustainable seafood program of which Blue Water Cafe is a founding member.

Blue Water Cafe is Vancouver’s definitive seafood restaurant located in the heart of Yaletown at 1095 Hamilton Street. Dinner is served nightly from 5:00pm – 11:00pm with late menu until midnight. Open for holiday lunch until December 23rd from 11:30am – 2:00pm. For reservations call 604 688 8078 or visit


Media contact:
Shelley McArthur
Communications Director
Top Table Restaurant Group
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