Understated finesse and precision. Classical French training. Tireless dedication to both craft and family traditions. A true taste for high-pressure culinary competitions. These are just some of the ingredients that have helped write a recipe for success for Alex Chen.
In his time since overseeing the genesis of Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar in 2014, Alex has earned the restaurant a full complement of accolades while proving his culinary mettle on an international scale.
After leading Team Canada to a top-10 finish at the 2013 Bocuse d’Or in Lyon, France, Alex went on to steer Boulevard to the top spot in both the 2015 and ’17 editions of the annual Gold Medal Plates BC regional championships as well as the gold medal at the 2018 Canadian Culinary Championships. That same year he was singled out for the prestigious Chef of the Year title by Vancouver magazine Awards and became the first challenger to to claim victory on the inaugural season of The Food Network Canada's Iron Chef Canada TV series. In 2019, Alex led Boulevard to the No. 31 spot on the prestigious annual list of Canada's 100 Best Restaurants and celebrated winning back-to-back titles as Best Seafood and Best Upscale at the 2018 and '19 editions of the annual Vancouver Magazine Restaurant Awards.
And while Alex boasts more than a decade of experience at some of the most acclaimed and revered hotel properties across North America, Boulevard marks the first occasion that he has shepherded the opening of a restaurant from inception through construction to rollout.
It’s been a homecoming for Alex since he shepherded Boulevard from inception through construction to rollout. Vancouver is where he got his first taste of — and respect for — the restaurant industry while working as a dishwasher and busboy after emigrating with his family from Malaysia at the age of 13. It’s where he developed his affinity for the unique bounty of fresh produce, proteins and seafood available year-round from local farms, fields and fisheries. It’s where he apprenticed under renowned chefs and culinary pioneers such as Robert Sulatycky and Bruno Marti before honing his skills in kitchens at shome of the most acclaimed and revered hotel properties in North America.
Vancouver is also where he and his wife Elizabeth raise their two children and try to instill in them the same respect for cultural touchstones and time-honoured traditions — for instance, the abundance of love and care that go into preparing and serving food for family and loved ones — that was fostered in Alex as a young child in his mother’s kitchen.
“Home is where I often create my best work," says Alex. "When you’re cooking for friends, family or loved ones in your own kitchen, that is when you put in the most energy, because there is no pressure or any time constraint — you just infuse the best flavor into that dish, present it at the right moment and show that it all comes from a moment of purity and love.”
Roger Ma began his career in the industry by helping to launch Fifty Two 80 Bistro & Bar at the Four Seasons Resort Whistler in 2004. From there, Roger became an integral part of the kitchen engine that drove many restaurants in esteemed chef Daniel Boulud’s empire.
In 2006, Roger rose in the ranks at Boulud's flagship restaurant, Daniel in New York, from chef de partie to banquet sous chef to sous chef. After six years, Roger took the role of corporate sous chef in Boulud’s Dinex Group and moved on to help open Café Boulud and dBar at the Four Seasons Toronto as well as Maison Boulud at the Ritz Carlton in Montreal. In 2014, Roger returned to his hometown of Vancouver to help open Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar.
Roger is no stranger to accolades either, having claimed the top prize at the 2015 Vancouver Aquarium Ocean Wise Chowder Chowdown from a field of 14 chefs. In 2016, Roger also earned a podium finish at the Bocuse d'Or national finals and won the Vancouver Curry Cup. In 2018, he helped lead the Boulevard back-of-house team to gold-medal wins in the Best Seafood and Best Upscale categories at the 2018 edition of the prestigious annual Vancouver Magazine Restaurant Awards.
Most recently he saw the restaurant's renown grow even further thanks to a number of accolades that included 'Best Hotel Dining' at the 2019 Where to Dine Vancouver Awards, back-to-back wins for Best Seafood and Best Upscale at the 2019 Vancouver Magazine Restaurant Awards and the No. 31 ranking on the prestigious 2019 list of Canada's 100 Best Restaurants. In June of 2019 he will reunite with his former colleague Melissa Rodriguez, Chef/Owner of New York's Michelin-starred Del Posto when he welcomes Melissa to Boulevard for a collaborative Michelin on the Road Dinner.
Pastry Chef Kenta Takahashi not only brings the requisite traditional French panache to the line at Boulevard, but his Japanese heritage also lends a modern and sophisticated twist to each exquisite dessert he creates.
An award-winning pastry chef in his home country, Kenta worked in a number of restaurants in Tokyo and Kanagawa, Japan before coming to Vancouver and continuing to hone his craft under renowned pâtissier and chocolatier Thierry Busset. Armed with the discerning eye of a true artist and the classic skill and training of a chef, Kenta oversees Boulevard’s menu of tantalizing desserts as well as its varieties of flaky pastries and fresh-baked breads created in-house each day.
Since joining the Boulevard kitchen, where he oversees a talented team of pastry cooks, Kenta credits Executive Chef Alex Chen’s ability to infuse both plate and palate with an elegant-yet-understated flair as a constant source of culinary inspiration.
“Alex is extremely talented and passionate and each dish he creates has big impact but is also very delicate in terms of presentation and taste,” says Kenta. “I’m excited to bring my talents to a team that has an uncompromising standard of excellence and to blend my creativity with the restaurant’s classic, signature style.”
In 2019, Kenta and his pastry team were honoured with the 'Best Dessert' nod at the Vancouver Magazine Restaurant Awards and helped the restaurant earn both 'Best Hotel Dining' accolades at the 2019 Where to Dine Vancouver Awards and the No. 31 spot on the prestigious annual ranking of Canada's 100 Best Restaurants.
The fine art of delivering an unparalleled guest experience is something that is deeply ingrained in JP Potters. He developed a taste for the hospitality industry at an early age while working in kitchens and soon transitioned to front-of-house roles, which afforded him the opportunity to nurture his appetite for service and wine.
After graduating from the University of Toronto, JP set out to work in top restaurants in North America in beyond. Three years in Whistler saw stops at iconic Araxi Restaurant & Oyster Bar and Val d’Isere restaurant, where an appreciation for wine took root. Living in Melbourne, Australia for almost five years, JP worked as sommelier at The Park Hyatt’s Radii restaurant and subsequently relaunched The Botanical, both multi-award-winning institutions of gastronomy and wine.
Upon returning to Canada, JP made stops at Susur, Splendido, The Spoke Club and finally George Restaurant as General Manager, completing 12 years of training in highly creative, demanding, award-winning restaurants. Most recently the West Coast called him to Vancouver, where he is proud to continue to develop top restaurant properties.
“Joining the team at Boulevard represents the culmination of many years of training and hospitality focus,” he says. “I am excited about working with such a wonderful group of people’
JP brings to Boulevard not only an abiding passion for providing superior customer service and connecting with his guests but a deep knowledge of New and Old-World wines and a desire to help mould and mentor up-and-coming industry professionals.
He helped pace his front-of-house team at Boulevard to back-to-back gold-medal finishes in the Best Upscale category at the 2018 and '19 editions of the Vancouver Magazine Restaurant Awards and also was singled out for a Premier Crew designation by Vancouver Magazine in 2019, the same year he helped lead the restaurant to the 'Best Hotel Dining' nod at the Where to Dine Vancouver Awards and the No. 31 spot on the prestigious annual ranking of Canada's 100 Best Restaurants.
The Front of House is front and centre for Boulevard Maître d’ Brian Hopkins. It’s where he and his team greet guests and forge that all-important first impression — and Brian never forgets how vital that job is.
“The most important thing is to have your team truly believe in what you’re creating and in your service philosophy,” says Brian. “It’s so important to make guests feel welcome. They have to believe in you. They’re going to ask you for recommendations about a good portion of their evening out, so you have to establish that trust. You have to be professional without being standoffish, and warm and sincere without being casual or aloof. It’s a delicate balance.”
If there’s ever been a virtuoso of exemplary service, it’s Brian. A true pioneer of table-side service with a smile and a testament to the power of a positive attitude, at whatever high-profile establishment Brian has been at the helm, accolades have soon followed — from his tenures in Toronto and Los Angeles, to launching Vancouver’s critically acclaimed West Restaurant in 2000, to heading up operations at CinCin Ristorante + Bar and at Whistler’s lauded Araxi, Brian has earned a stellar reputation for providing top-shelf service.
One of three accredited sommeliers on the front-of-house management team at Boulevard, Brian was inducted into the B.C. Restaurant Hall of Fame in 2010 and also singled out for the Premier Crew Designation at the 25th annual edition of the Vancouver Magazine Restaurant Awards in 2014. More recently he helped lead the restaurant to back-to-back gold medals in the category of 'Best Upscale' at the 2018 and '19 editions of the Vancouver Magazine Restaurant Awards, the 'Best Hotel Dining' nod at the 2019 Where to Dine Vancouver Awards and the No. 31 spot on the prestigious 2019 list of Canada's 100 Best Restaurants.
For Isaac Olivier, plying his trade in the often demanding and high-stakes world of the hospitality industry is more than just a calling —it’s a true, homespun family tradition.
When the Vancouver native first launched his career at Water St. Café in 2006, he followed in the footsteps of no less than four siblings, three cousins and an aunt who had also worked in a variety of roles at the Gastown restaurant. He quickly developed an affinity for the trade and rose through the ranks in a variety of roles ranging from busboy to server, pastry prep, line cook and eventually manager. After a six-year tour of duty, he moved on to take on a managerial role at Hawksworth for two years before joining an accomplished front-of-house family at Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar.
Isaac brings to Boulevard not only his extensive foundation, innate knowledge and affinity for the subtle and elegant touches of fine dining but a commitment to supporting his fellow staff and continuing to foster the unique brand of exceptional service that greets each of Boulevard’s guests on a daily basis. Most recently he saw the restaurant win back-to-back gold medals in the Best Upscale category at the 2018 and '19 Vancouver Magazine Restaurant Awards, the 'Best Hotel Dining' nod at the 2019 Where to Dine Vancouver Awards and the No. 31 spot on the prestigious 2019 list of Canada's 100 Best Restaurants.
As soon as he realized his affinity for fine wine a few years ago, Liam threw himself headlong into the pursuit and earned his Wine Spirit and Education Trust Level 3 accreditation with honours as well as certifications in both the Italian and French Wine Scholar Programs.
Born and raised in Vancouver, Liam launched his career in the hospitality industry with a two-year turn as server and supervisor at Earls Fir Street beginning in 2011. From there he rose through the ranks at Glowbal Restaurant Group’s Black+Blue from server to manager and eventually sommelier roles before coming to Boulevard in November of 2018.
“The entire team at Boulevard is committed to excellence at every step and it’s a pleasure to be part of a team that approaches everything with the guest front of mind,” he says. “The kitchen manages that fine balance between flavour, composition and efficiency, our beverage program is comprehensive and showcases great wine from the world over, and our front-of-house team places a premium on providing unparalleled service. It all adds up to a winning recipe to create amazing dining experiences.”
In the time since Liam joined the Boulevard front-of-house family, he has helped contribute to the restaurant winning the title of Best Upscale for a second consecutive year at the Vancouver Magazine Restaurant Awards, the No. 31 spot on the 2019 list of Canada’s 100 Best Restaurants and the ‘Best Hotel Dining’ nod at the 2019 Where to Dine Vancouver Awards.
Eva Chin brings to Boulevard both an abiding passion for the Pacific Northwest and a proud tradition of harvesting, butchery and respecting all that the land and sea provide that was instilled in her at a young age in her Hawaiian hometown of Kahuku, Oahu.
Her first visit to Vancouver was in 2009, and while she immediately fell in love with the cold waters, evergreens and rustic, raw coziness of the region, she wouldn’t make it her permanent home until 2015. Having worked and staged for a variety of Michelin-starred restaurants in Europe and North America, she credits her approach to cooking and managing to her mentor and renowned chef Shane Osborn, who pushed her to always strive for excellence.
In 2017, Eva took the helm at Royal Dinette — Vancouver Magazine’s choice for Best Pacific Northwest Restaurant that same year — before more recently joining a back-of-house brigade at Boulevard that includes such award-winning chefs as Alex Chen, Roger Ma, Daniel Kim and Connor Sperling.
“Being able to relate to very specific Asian flavours from my childhood with Chefs Alex and Roger and then watch our ideas grow with a modern approach to cooking that we all share is something I wouldn’t have even been able to dream of when I first started in this industry,” she says. “It’s all the little details that set Boulevard apart — the extra service, extra finesse and extra love.”
Most recently Eva helped the restaurant earn wins for 'Best Hotel Dining' at the 2019 Where to Dine Vancouver Awards, wins for 'Best Seafood' and 'Best Upscale' at the 2019 Vancouver Magazine Restaurant Awards and the No. 31 spot on the prestigious 2019 compilation of Canada's 100 Best Restaurants.
At Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar, Jasper Cruickshank indulges his affinity for capturing a sense of aesthetic and culinary artistry on each plate while collaborating with a skilled team of fellow chefs.
Jasper honed his skills as a member of the national junior culinary team that represented Canada at high-profile events in Ireland and South Korea from 2010 through ’12 and was named the 2011 BC Junior Chef of the Year by the Canadian Culinary Foundation. In 2012, he marked his proudest career moment to date when he helped Team Canada secure the silver medal at the 23rd World Culinary Olympics in Germany.
He staged at a number of award-winning restaurants including the three-Michelin-starred German restaurants Aqua in Wolfsburg and Amador in Mannheim as well as the three Michelin-starred Geranium in Copenhagen, Denmark prior to joining the opening team at Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar in 2014. After two years at Boulevard, he travelled Down Under and worked as Chef de Partie at Bentley Restaurant and Bar in Sydney before rejoining his back-of-house colleagues at Boulevard as Sous Chef in 2018.
“One of my favourite aspects of working at Boulevard is the ability to develop my own dishes and see them transform and evolve by collaborating with talented chefs like Alex Chen and Roger Ma,” he says. “Boulevard feels like a real family and everyone works diligently to keep raising our standards and create truly memorable dining experiences for our guests.”
Jasper helped the restaurant earn back-to-back wins in the 'Best Upscale' and 'Best Seafood' categories at the 2018 and '19 editions of the Vancouver Magazine Restaurant Awards, the 'Best Hotel Dining' nod at the 2019 Where to Dine Vancouver Awards and a No. 31 ranking on the prestigious annual list of Canada's 100 Best Restaurants.
While he’s only been wearing the whites for six years, Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar Junior Sous Chef Daniel Kim has already established his reputation as a rising star in Vancouver’s culinary scene.
Armed with creativity, style and technical skills to spare, Daniel began his career in the kitchen at South Granville staple West shortly after graduating from high school in 2012. It was during his two years there as a chef de partie that Daniel sampled his first taste of high-pressure culinary competitions when he helped then-Executive Chef Quang Dang secure a podium finish at the 2013 Bocuse d’Or national selection competition in Montreal.
After a stint cooking at Gastown’s Wildebeest, Daniel joined the back-of-house brigade at Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar in 2015, where he was mentored by such notable chefs as Bobby Milheron, Roger Ma and Vancouver Magazine’s 2018 Chef of the Year Alex Chen. Daniel also bolstered his competitive skills by playing a key role in the restaurant’s wins at the 2015 and ’17 Gold Medal Plates regionals in Victoria and the 2018 Canadian Culinary Championships in Kelowna as well as Boulevard’s recent back-to-back accolades for Best Upscale and Best Seafood at the 2018 and '19 editions of the annual Vancouver Magazine Restaurant Awards.
Daniel was also crowned winner of the 2018 annual Hawksworth Young Chef Scholarship Finals in Toronto and helped lead his team to the 'Best Hotel Dining' award at the 2019 Where to Dine Vancouver Awards and the No. 31 spot on the prestigious 2019 list of Canada's 100 Best Restaurants, but his biggest crowning achievement was more of a personal one — becoming a new father.