The Victoria chef is building an empire, and taking the city along with him.
The Architect: Kunal Ghose
Chef Kunal Ghose appeared on this list in 2009, lauded for his first Victoria venture, Red Fish Blue Fish (“the best eco-friendly fish and chips of your life,” declared our editors.) Fast-forward to 2014 and the opening of Ghose’s second restaurant, Fishhook, which built on his expertise with sustainable seafood and incorporated rich flavours from Indian and French cuisine, vis-à-vis tartine sandwiches heaped with smoked fish, moules prepared with a white wine vindaloo broth, and divine coconut-infused potato and seafood chowders laced with salmon-belly bacon. This past year saw the opening of two more restaurants: first, a second location of Fishhook that adds brunch service, a cocktail menu, a 100-seat patio—and reservations (at last!), then Dobosala, a play on adobo and masala, says Ghose, with a menu inspired by his favourite ingredients the world over.
Beyond the expertly prepared fare and atmospheric rooms, there is a long look toward city-making, part of a broader philosophy to conserve and share resources. Ghose has worked with the mayor in support of Victoria’s new network of separated bike lanes (Dobosala is mere feet from the Pandora Street bike lanes and incorporates a ride-thru window to serve passing cyclists and pedestrians), and he has served as culinary chair for Our Place Society’s annual Hungry Hearts event, which raises funds for the organization’s work feeding and sheltering the homeless. If he’s building an empire, he’s taking the city along with him.