Hometown: Aichhalden, Germany (Black Forest region)
Occupation: Chef and Owner, Thomas Haas Chocolates & Patisserie
Years worked as a chef: 30
Years in Vancouver: 19
Accolades: Pastry Chef of the Year, Vancouver Magazine (2011, 2013-2015)
Top 10 Chocolatiers in North America, Pastry Art and Design (2010)
British Columbia Restaurant Hall of Fame Inductee (2009)
What do you love best about Vancouver’s food scene?
We have very diverse cuisine in Vancouver, and we have a lot of it! You can get some of the best French, Italian, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, South American, and just about any type of cuisine you can think of, all within a very small radius.
Name the top restaurants and dishes that you think every visitor to Vancouver should try.
Chambar: Their tagine (Moroccan-style braised lamb shank and couscous) is truly an inspired dish.
Vij’s: I recommend the goat curry or lamb popsicles. Vij’s has become a Vancouver institution thanks to their delicious Indian cuisine.
Cioppino’s: Order the veal cheek pappardelle with porcini mushrooms, braised for four hours before being served.
Hamaei Sushi: Good, fresh and consistent, we visit this little sushi place on the North Shore at least once or twice a week.
What is your favorite neighborhood to eat out in and why?
West Vancouver has a lot of hidden gems that we love. Specifically, Mangia e Bevi makes good, solid Italian pasta and we know the owners well.
Describe your “perfect dining out day” in Vancouver.
I would start at Savary Island Pie Company in West Vancouver for a savory omelette and a pastry. If it’s a sunny day, I might hop over to Nook in Kitsilano and get a prosciutto pizza and heirloom salad with fresh burrata. Then I would prepare to indulge myself at Le Crocodile for French fare and finish with the warm apple tart.
You’re all about the sweets. So, at what restaurants do you always leave room for dessert?
Le Crocodile without a doubt. You can’t beat their Alsacian-style apple tart or their classic soufflé!
What is your personal favorite creation at your shops and why?
That’s like asking which of my children is my favorite! My favorites tend to change with the season and perhaps with my mood, as well, but not a day goes by without a croissant or danish for breakfast and the mandatory coffee and cake at 4 o’clock. I like to have the orange blossom brioche for breakfast, a crispy hazelnut praline cake for my afternoon refuel, and the Guinness and malt chocolate in between. I’m definitely my own best customer!
You’re a favorite of the majority of Vancouver chefs interviewed by Eats Abroad. But what patisseries in the city have impressed you?
In Vancouver, I’ve always respected the work of Chocolate Arts. And then there are the newcomers like BETA5 Chocolates who are creative, fun and refreshing. I also like the homey style of Cadeaux Bakery, and Beaucoup Bakeryhas created a nice little neighborhood bakery not far from our Broadway store. Thierry also does a nice job in the downtown core. Over in Burnaby, Chez Christophe does really great work that I admire.
Name a dish in Vancouver that blew you away and left you wishing you came up with the recipe yourself.
There are almost too many to mention, but if I have to pick one, I’d go with the red duck curry at Maenam. At home, I try to replicate Rob Feenie’s tuna tataki and butternut squash ravioli at Cactus Club.
What dish is your guilty pleasure and where in Vancouver do you get it?
Bao Bei‘s mantou (pork belly on a Chinese steamed bun) is at the top of my list. I could eat 10 … or 20. It’s flavorful, tender and slightly spicy.
Since Eats Abroad is geared toward travelers, are there any restaurants or bars at Vancouver International Airport or the city’s hotels that you enjoy visiting?
After 15 years of being on the decline, hotel restaurants in Vancouver are on the rise again. I recommend visitors stop by YEW at the Four Seasons, Hawksworth at the Hotel Georgia, Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar at the Sutton Place Hotel, Bacchus Lounge at the Wedgewood Hotel and Café Medina at L’Hermitage Hotel.
Are there any foods native to B.C. or Canada that you particularly like?
There are some excellent artisanal products, like Earnest Ice Cream, To Die For Fine Foods’ Banana Bread and Lemon Loaf, Domenica Fiore Olive Oil (launched in B.C.), The Juice Truck cold-pressed juice and Lesley Stowe Fine Foods‘ Raincoast Crisps.
There are also the quintessentially Canadian items like smoked salmon from B.C., and oak barrel-aged maple syrup from Quebec (which we use in our products). And of course, you can find Thomas Haas chocolates at our two shops in North Vancouver and Kitsilano and at many special retailers!
Finally, what would you say is the one thing any visitor must see or do before leaving Vancouver?
Chef Haas’ Shortlist:
Thomas Haas, 998 Harbourside Drive, North Vancouver, B.C.; chocolates and pastries, open Tuesday-Saturday, closed Sunday-Monday.
Second location: 2539 West Broadway (Kitsilano); open Tuesday-Saturday, closed Sunday-Monday.
Chambar, 568 Beatty Street (Downtown); Belgian, dinner only daily.
Vij’s, 1480 West 11th Avenue (Fairview); modern Indian, dinner only daily.
Cioppino’s, 1133 Hamilton Street (Yaletown); Italian, dinner only Monday-Saturday, closed Sunday.
Hamaei Japanese Restaurant, 2601 Westview Drive, North Vancouver, B.C.; Japanese, lunch Tuesday-Friday, dinner daily.
Nook, 781 Denman Street (West End); Italian, dinner only daily.
Second location: 1525 Yew Street (Kitsilano); Italian, lunch Wednesday-Friday, dinner daily, brunch Saturday-Sunday.
Nicli Antica Pizzeria, 62 East Cordova Street (Gastown); Neapolitan pizza, lunch and dinner daily.
Pizzeria Farina, 915 Main Street (Strathcona); pizza, dinner only daily.
Via Tevere, 1190 Victoria Drive (Grandview); Italian, dinner only Tuesday-Sunday, closed Monday.
The BiBo, 1835 West 4th Avenue (Kitsilano); Italian, lunch and dinner Tuesday-Sunday, closed Monday.
Pizzeria Bufala, 5395 West Boulevard (Kerrisdale); pizza, lunch and dinner daily.
Le Crocodile, 909 Burrard Street, Suite #100 (Downtown); French, lunch Monday-Friday, dinner Monday-Saturday, closed Sunday.
Mangia e Bevi, 2222 Marine Drive (West Vancouver); Italian, dinner only daily.
Savary Island Pie Company, 1533 Marine Drive (West Vancouver); bakery/sandwiches, breakfast, lunch and dinner daily.
Chocolate Arts, 1620 West 3rd Avenue (Fairview); chocolate shop, open daily.
BETA5 Chocolates, 413 Industrial Avenue (Mount Pleasant); patisserie, open Tuesday-Sunday, closed Monday.
Cadeaux Bakery, 172 Powell Street (Gastown); patisserie, open Tuesday-Sunday, closed Monday.
Beaucoup Bakery & Cafe, 2150 Fir Street (Fairview); patisserie, open daily.
Thierry, 1059 Alberni Street (Downtown); patisserie, open daily.
Chez Christophe, 4712 Hastings Street, Burnaby, B.C.; chocolaterie and patisserie, open Tuesday-Saturday, closed Sunday-Monday.
Maenam, 1938 West 4th Avenue (Kitsilano); Thai, lunch Tuesday-Saturday, dinner daily.
Cactus Club Cafe, 588 Burrard Street (Downtown); international, lunch and dinner daily.
Multiple locations around Vancouver.
Bao Bei, 163 Keefer Street (Chinatown); Chinese, dinner only Tuesday-Sunday, closed Monday.
YEW seafood + bar, 791 West Georgia Street (Downtown); seafood, breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily.
Hawksworth Restaurant, 801 West Georgia Street (Downtown); Canadian, breakfast and dinner daily, lunch Monday-Friday, brunch Saturday-Sunday.
Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar, 845 Burrard Street (Downtown); seafood, breakfast, lunch and dinner daily.
Bacchus Lounge, 845 Hornby Street (Downtown); international, open daily.
Earnest Ice Cream, 3992 Fraser Street (Riley Park); ice cream, open Thursday-Sunday, closed Monday-Wednesday.
Also sold at various shops and Farmers Markets.
The Juice Truck, 28 West 5th Avenue (Mount Pleasant); cold-pressed juice, open Monday-Friday, closed Saturday-Sunday.
Truck: Corner of Water and Abbott Streets (Gastown); open Monday-Saturday, closed Sunday.
Grouse Mountain, 6400 Nancy Greene Way, North Vancouver, B.C.; open daily.
About the Chef: Chef Thomas Haas was born to make chocolates and pastries, literally. Hailing from a long line of pastry chefs, he was introduced to the art in the kitchen of Café Konditorei Haas, started in 1918 by his great-grandfather in Aichhalden, Germany. After years of training with chefs across Europe, Haas earned his Konditormeister, or “Master Pastry Chef,” designation and took his talents to Four Seasons Vancouver and Daniel Boulud’s flagship restaurant, Daniel, in Manhattan. An active outdoorsman and avid cyclist, Haas soon found himself in the natural beauty of Vancouver once again.
Upon his return, Haas worked toward his dream of opening his own business. He opened his first patisserie in North Vancouver in 2005, and a second debuted four years later in Kitsilano. By showcasing local ingredients such as summer fruits from the Okanagan Valley, to hazelnuts and berries from the Fraser Valley, Haas’ sweet treats boast distinct British Columbian characteristics, something that the chef is very proud of and that Vancouverites love and appreciate.