Sharing Something Good: Renowned Rupert Restaurant Releases Recipes
It’s not much bigger than your average home’s kitchen and dining room, but Prince Rupert’s Cow Bay Café has a powerful reputation that belies its modest square footage. For 16 years, eating a meal at this cosy gem of a restaurant (if you can get a reservation) has been as much an essential Rupert experience as having your brolly blown inside-out by a gale. It’s a favoured destination for special birthday tète-a-tètes, business lunches for suits from the Port, and dinners to show off its charming waterfront location to family and visitors from away. Head chef and owner Adrienne Johnston has established a unique and popular business, and now, to complement her success among the palates of Rupertites, has just released a cookbook entitled No More Secrets to grace their kitchen counters as well.
No More Secrets is a slender, sensible volume; the wide glossy pages lay open nicely by themselves without being weighted down, may be wiped off if splattered in a freak soup-blending accident, and declaim the ingredients and instructions for reproducing some of Cow Bay Café’s most popular plates in a sleek, graphic type.
“I kept a book here for years,” says Johnston, “for whenever people would say, ‘Do you have a cookbook?’ and I’d say ‘No, but tell me what you’ve had that you would really like to see.” The overwhelming favourites from that notebook are now in No More Secrets, but Johnston admits that it was still difficult to pinpoint exactly which ones to include because she wanted the book to be as practical as possible to use. “We had to make each recipe fit on the page—I didn’t want you to have to turn pages back and forth,” she says. “It was a matter of what worked, and of trying to please as many people as possible.”
There’s certainly a wide variety of recipes in the book. Each department of the restaurant’s menu is represented: from desserts, drinks, and simple, flavourful salads and dressings to soups and multi-step main dishes that require more time and many components. “But it’s not the number of ingredients that makes it challenging,” says Johnston. “It’s timing all the steps to make it come together. But I don’t think cooking is really any great alchemy. If you take the care to get good ingredients and treat them respectfully, you will come up with an approximation.”
Although the name of the book implies that the kitchen confidences of Cow Bay Café’s inner workings have been exposed for all the culinary world to plunder, Johnston instead compares the concept of following her recipes to hearing a piece of music played by various musicians. “It’s going to sound different each time, because they each hear and feel something different and draw that out of what’s written down. And it’s the same thing with cooking,” she says. “Each recipe is like a piece of music and each person who reads it is going to draw just something a little different out of it.”