Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

News stories from the Renfrew-Collingwood community in East Vancouver

Collingwood’s humble kitchen expert

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Barry Londry plus two of his recipes

BY ESTHER YUEN

Barry Londry stands out from the crowd, literally. At six feet tall, he towers over most people in the Collingwood neighbourhood, yet his warm smile and kind words put people around him at ease.

Barry’s a humble expert in the kitchen and can be often found tending shrubs in the Cheyenne community gardens. He’s also well known to improvise and create delightful dishes out of discarded food materials. Just like these dishes, Barry could have easily thrown away parts of his life, but chose to create a meaningful life for himself that has positively impacted those around him. You see, Barry had a thriving career as a chef―but this all of this came crashing down one day.

Years before Chef Barry joined the Renfrew-Collingwood Food Security Institute, Barry was just another kid growing up in the Vancouver eastside neighbourhood called Diaper Hill. His parents, who moved here from the Prairies after the Second World War, fed Barry the typical Prairie diet of meat and potatoes―and on the rare occasion, they would cook him a delicious steak dinner.

Barry’s tastebuds were more adventurous, and even though Vancouver’s population then was quite homogenous, Barry was still able to develop a palate for exotic flavours. Every so often, Barry would hang out at his friend’s parent’s Chinese restaurant, and would visit ethnic restaurants with friends. Whenever he found a dish that he enjoyed, he would ask the cooks for the recipes. Thus began his fascination with international foods.

While cooking was a hobby, he pursued a career in sports and business during his 20s. He studied restaurant management and completed a diploma in international business. He became a ticket distributor for sports games and even managed sales for the Stanley Cup games in the 80s. He also sold cider to the States!

Barry was business-savvy, but eventually realized that he couldn’t deny his passion for cooking. After he was laid off from a job in the beverages industry, he enrolled into the top cooking school in Vancouver, and then worked across the Lower Mainland in various food services capacities. Eventually, he found full-time employment as a chef in an assisted living seniors’ centre.

In 2005, doctors discovered Barry had dilated cardiomyopathy, a condition common among taller athletes. His heart was enlarged and was only at 13% capacity. As a result, he would often be tired and short of breath. Determined to get well, Barry entered a recovery program. Unfortunately, weeks into the program, the heart specialist told him he was never going to be able to work again.

This hit Barry like a tonne of bricks. His life was going to be radically changed. No longer could he be independent, but had to be government-dependent, take on disability status, and give up his car.

After dealing with the shock and the self-pity, he asked himself, “[Am I] going to sit here and moan or do something about [my life]?” Barry went into action mode, and motivated himself to complete the paperwork that accompanied his diagnosis. Soon, Barry moved into the Collingwood area. Who knew that this would be another turn in his life?

In 2008, Barry went to an open forum at the Collingwood Neighbourhood House, intending to voice his opinion about the transit system. Instead, he met Stephanie Lim, coordinator of the Renfrew Collingwood Food Security Institute, who relentlessly pursued Barry to be involved with her programs. He got his feet wet by building the Cheyenne Gardens with Jason Hseih and Steph, then eventually led and taught in food programs.

A few months later, Barry was asked if he could volunteer with Nadja, who coordinated the community kitchen. Barry thought he would volunteer for a few weeks, but eventually became a consistent participant, assisting Nadja run the program to this very day.

Barry is still committed to perfecting the fine art of experimental cooking. He rarely writes down any of his recipes and almost never cooks the same meal twice, but he knows how to exactly combine foods to bring out the flavours. His friend George, from John’s Market once said, “[Barry’s] a better cook than me!” Those who have tasted his cooking would probably give him the same type of praise.

Esther Yuen is a communications specialist and graphic designer. She is passionate about positive social change and is active with the local arts and culture scene.

Chef Barry’s Recipes

The two recipes here are comfort food to me. The bonus is that if you are cooking for one or two people you can make both dishes with one chicken. Each recipe is very easy to make and if you get the chicken on sale you can get six meals for a very good price. ―Barry Londry

 Roasted Chicken and Potatoes

1 chicken (3 to 4 lbs)
2 tbsp butter, softened
salt and pepper, to taste
1 large onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
*1 or 1 1/2 lbs potatoes cut into 2-inch pieces
*4 or 5 cloves of garlic peeled (1 minced and others left whole)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
cooking spray (oil) or vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Cover the surface of a large baking sheet or pan lightly with cooking spray or oil.

Place onions, carrots, celery and the minced garlic in a bowl. Mix and season with salt and pepper. Place these in the middle of the baking sheet so they are roughly the shape of the chicken.

Massage or brush the butter over the entire surface of the chicken. Season the whole chicken with salt and pepper. Place the chicken over the veggies in the middle of the baking sheet. All the veggies should be under the chicken.

Place the potato pieces and whole garlic cloves in a bowl. Add the 1/4 cup of oil and mix so all is covered with oil. Season these with salt and pepper and place around the chicken in a single layer so the cut side of the potatoes is on the sheet.

Place chicken in the oven and cook for 30 minutes. Turn the oven down to 375 degrees F. Cook for an additional 15 minutes (45 minutes total). Take chicken out of the oven and baste it with the juices at the bottom of the pan. If there arenʼt enough juices brush the exposed area of the chicken with butter. If the garlic is starting to brown put it in with the other veggies.

Put back into the oven and cook for an additional 30 to 45 minutes more. The chicken will be done when an instant read thermometer placed into the middle of the inner thigh reads at least 165 degrees F or the juices run clear when the chicken is placed on an angle. Do not cut into the chicken as this will make the chicken more dry.

When the chicken is cooked let it rest at room temperature for 15 or 20 minutes. This will allow the juices to be redistributed throughout the chicken. Enjoy!

* The potatoes and garlic are optional if you donʼt have enough room in the pan for them or if you donʼt like garlic.

Serves 4

Chicken Pot Pie

1 large onion, diced
2 large carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 cups chicken, cooked and diced
2 tbsp butter
salt and pepper, to taste
2 tbsp flour
1 cup chicken stock or water
1/2 cup milk or cream or whipping cream (how rich do you want the sauce)?
1 cup frozen peas
*1 tbsp fresh thyme or tarragon, minced
2 9-inch pie shells
1 egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place a large frying pan over medium high heat. Add butter and the onions, carrots, celery and salt and pepper. Stir to mix. Cook until softened, about 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the flour and stir to mix. Cook for 1 or 2 minutes to take the raw taste of the flour out. Add the liquids (stock and cream) and stir. Add the chicken, stir and cook for an additional 5 to 7 minutes until sauce is thickened and flavours have combined. Turn off the heat and add the peas and either the thyme or tarragon. Stir again and allow mixture to cool.

Once cooled fill the bottom pie shell with the chicken mixture. Brush the top outside part of the shell with the beaten egg. This will help seal the top crust.

Place the other pie shell over the filled shell. Press down on the top shell to ensure it is against the filling. With a knife, cut any of the top shell that is overhanging outside the pie plate. Crimp or seal the outside edge of the crust with a fork. Brush the top of the pie with remaining beaten egg. Cut 4 or 5 vents about 1 inch long on the inner top of the pie to let the steam escape.

Place in the  oven for 40 to 45 minutes or until the entire pie is golden brown. Let pie rest for about 20 minutes and cut into 4 or 6 wedges.

* Thyme will give a traditional flavour to the pie. Tarragon will take it to a different and I think better level.

** For an even better tasting pie add any leftover veggies and stock from the roasted chicken.

Serves 4-6

© Copyright (c) 2013 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

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