Ian Blom is the Executive Chef at The Old Firehouse Wine and Cocktail Bar in Duncan, BC. (Don Denton/Boulevard Magazine photo)

Inspired Chef Interview with Duncan’s Ian Blom

Hoping to lead the Cowichan Valley culinary scene

  • Aug. 24, 2018 10:45 a.m.

Where were you born and where did you grow up?

was born and raised in the Cowichan Valley. I always took for granted how beautiful the Cowichan region is with its endless outdoor activities. We have multiple rivers, the ocean is a short drive in almost any direction, there are unbelievable trees and forests and a plethora of amazing organic farms, wineries, distilleries and artisan producers. As a chef I would not want to be anywhere else. Chefs in the Cowichan Valley are just starting to scratch the surface of what can be done with all these amazing products at our fingertips. I hope to be on the leading edge for our future culinary scene.

Where did you train?

I attended Malaspina University in Nanaimo, straight out of high school, attempting to obtain a BA of Arts. Early on, I realized academics were not really piquing my interest. Instead of writing term papers and research projects, I was watching cooking tutorials and reading Escoffier and The French Laundry Cookbook. With encouragement from my family, I dropped out of university and enrolled in the culinary program at Vancouver Island University. I completed my two-year diploma program and wrote my red seal exam before I had actually spent a lot of time in real kitchens. My real training began when I moved to Calgary to work at River Café on Prince’s Island. River Café had just been voted best restaurant in the city and I was very excited to be learning and working with like-minded, passionate young cooks.

How long have you been at your current restaurant?

I have been working at the The Old Firehouse for three and a half years. I was hired as the Chef de Cuisine my first year, and took over in year two.

Where before that?

Most recently I worked at Unsworth Restaurant for a short time and was the executive chef at Merridale Ciderworks for a year or so. I also did a lot of training at Stage Wine Bar in Victoria’s Fernwood neighbourhood. We had a great team and great chef and it’s here that I learned the basis of how to run and operate a successful restaurant, as well as how to make charcuterie, etc.

What are you best known for as a chef?

I am still too early on my culinary story to really be known for one thing yet. I would love to be known as a chef that boosted the awareness of fine food and wine in the Cowichan Valley. Someone who has a tenacious work ethic and strives for perfection, while preparing dishes with the bounty of the Cowichan Valley in mind, and utilizing refined techniques and preparing dishes that are approachable and delicious to the average dinner. Flavour is everything to me. If it doesn’t taste great, don’t put it on the plate!

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

Kosher salt, butter, ginger, shallots, garlic, sherry vinegar, fennel, chicken stock, wine, fresh herbs.

What’s your favourite dish to cook and eat on a cool winter day?

I love making comfort food for my family. Beef cheeks or some sort of braised, cheap cut of beef are always favourites in our household. I like to mix up the flavour profile each time I cook them, so as to not get bored with the same dish. Sometimes it’s Malaysian Reng Deng. Other times it’s classic French red wine braised cheeks; either way it’s delicious. Cheeks can be one of the most luxurious ingredients if done right.

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

I will always search for something that is creative. If I haven’t thought of a dish or seen a dish like it, I am definitely going to try it. House-made charcuterie is always a great option as well.

Hobbies?

Would it be odd to say cooking? I love food! Also, although I don’t get much time for it anymore (having a toddler at home limits the opportunities), golfing is probably my secondary passion. I love being on the golf course. Spending time at home cooking for my wife, Kim, and son, David, would be my current hobby.

Pecorino Gnocchi Romano

1 shallot, minced

1 Tbsp ginger, minced

4 cloves garlic, minced

250 ml chicken stock

250 ml 2% milk

250 ml semolina flour

1 Tbsp butter

250 ml grated Pecorino Romano cheese (parmesan would work as well).

Sweat shallot, ginger and garlic down in butter until translucent. Add chicken stock and milk. Season with salt and cracked pepper. Bring liquid to simmer and whisk in semolina flour.

Reduce heat to medium and stir mixture with wooden spoon for 5 to 10 minutes until it’s a thick, smooth paste. Finish gnocchi with grated cheese.

Line a baking sheet with plastic wrap and lay cooked gnocchi mixture out in a 1-inch layer. Cover with more plastic wrap and place in fridge to set for 1 to 2 hours.

Cut desired shape out of gnocchi and pan fry in a small amount of oil until both sides are golden brown and delicious.

These gnocchi are delicious on their own or serve them with classic basil pesto or salsa verde.

Salsa Verde

1 cup parsley

1 garlic, minced

1 shallot, minced

3 white anchovies, minced

2 Tbsp sherry vinegar

3 Tbsp vegetable oil

– Story by Susan Lundy/Photographs by Don Denton

Story courtesy of Boulevard Magazine, a Black Press Media publication

Like Boulevard Magazine on Facebook and follow them on Instagram

ChefDiningduncanDuncanbceating outIan BlomRecipeRecipesrestaurantThe Old Firehouse Wine and Cocktail Barvancouverisland

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Discovery Harbour outbreak declared over

Island Health says no new cases developed at Campbell River long-term care home

Mike Aldersey, the Port McNeill base manager for West Coast Helicopters has been awarded the prestigious Agar/Stringer Award by the Helicopter Association of Canada. (Submitted photo)
Vancouver Island pilot receives coveted helicopter industry award

Port McNeill based Mike Aldersey is the recipient of the 2o2o Agar/Stringer Award given out to select few Canadians

Although the Campbell River Shoebox Project is not actually collecting shoeboxes this year, instead they are providing gift cards, coordinator Alison Skrepnick (pictured from last year) hopes Campbell River and North Island residents will still participate. this year’s Dec. 9 deadline is looking. Photo contributed
Time running out to help brighten the holiday for local vulnerable women

The Campbell River and North Island Shoebox Project deadline is Dec. 9

Franca Warkentin, President, and Annie Holmes, Trustee, of the Eagles Ladies Auxiliary present a cheque for $500 to Hamper Chairman Ken Niesen. Photo contributed
Final week to apply for Christmas Hampers is upon us

Applications are coming in slowly but the Dec. 5 deadline is Saturday.

Left to right: A screenshot of NTC nurse navigator Lesley Cerney, FNHA regional mental health manager Georjeana Paterson and Island Health’s medical health officer Dr. Charmaine Enns addressing Ehattesaht community members from Ehatis reserve in a Facebook live update. (Ehattesaht First Nation/Facebook)
Medical team sent to Ehatis reserve near Zeballos to guide community through COVID outbreak

17 cases, eight recoveries and no hospitalizations as Island Health praises First Nation’s response

A tongue-in-cheek message about wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 on a sign outside a church near Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection count climbs back up to 656

20 more people in hospital, active cases still rising

A teacher places the finishing touches on the welcome sign at Hunter’s Glen Junior Public School which is part of the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) during the COVID-19 pandemic in Scarborough, Ont., on Sept. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Hindsight 2020: How do you preserve a year many Canadians would rather forget?

Figuring out how to preserve the story of the pandemic poses a series of challenges

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Haley Callison. (Facebook photo)
Former B.C. pro hockey player frustrated with COVID-deniers after horrific bout with virus

Haleigh Callison hopes people will follow precautions and tone down the rhetoric

An air ambulance leaves West Coast General Hospital for a trauma centre at 9:50 p.m. on Wednesday, June 12 after a Port Alberni youth was injured in an accident on the Somass River. SUSAN QUINN PHOTO
COVID-19 outbreaks at pair of Vancouver Island Hospitals

Saanich Peninsula Hospital in Saanichton and West Coast General Hospital in Port Alberni affected

A man stands in the window of an upper floor condo in Vancouver on March 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Change made to insurance for B.C. condo owners amid rising premiums

Council CEO Janet Sinclair says the change will mean less price volatility

The Walking Curriculum gets students outside and connecting with nature. (Amanda Peterson/Special to S.F. Examiner)
‘Walking Curriculum’ crafted by SFU professor surges in popularity

The outdoor curriculum encourages students to connect with the natural world

Dave Wallace coached the Parksville Royals for 23 years. (PQB News file photo)
B.C. baseball community mourns death of legendary Vancouver Island coach Dave Wallace

‘All who knew Dave and his passion for the game will miss him greatly’

Most Read