It was during a 3-day getaway to the Okanagan Valley that we were introduced to Frankie, We Salute You (FWSY). A primarily plantbased restaurant launched by Brian and Christina Skinner. The duo has created a menu that celebrates all things local as well as paying homage to their grandfathers, coincidentally both named Frank.
The Skinner’s are probably best known for their award-winning restaurant, The Acorn. It was one of Vancouver’s first upscale restaurants dedicated to plantbased dining with an additional focus on crafting stellar cocktails. Located south of downtown in the hipster enclave that embraces Main Street, the restaurant was recently was listed as the top vegan-friendly restaurant in the world by Big 7 Travel.
Brian has earned an extensive list of accolades having been shortlisted in Vancouver Magazine’s Restaurant Award for Best New Restaurant in 2013, placed 9th nationally in Air Canada enRoute Magazine’s Best New Restaurant Award 2013, and represented BC in the Canadian Culinary Championships.
Ready for a new challenge and change of pace, 2014 saw the Skinner’s sell The Acorn and move their growing family 455-kilometres east to Kelowna. In a community with limited healthy food options and a plethora of farms growing incredible produce, the couple gambled and launched Frankie, We Salute You (FWSY) in 2019.
Their comfort food menu is prepared with ingredients from local growers and farmers, and an incredible selection of regional wine, craft beer, and ciders. Brian and Christina’s goal is to bring people together with their food, so it only fits that the food comes from the community. Everyone is welcome, and FWSY even has a little human’s menu of food perfect for children.
On their move to Kelowna, Brian says, “We live people’s holiday! Lakes, wineries, skiing, hiking, we love it here. But most importantly, seeing my son flourish in a quaint little elementary school amongst wineries and orchards is huge.”
Our meal at FWSY was set as part of a Caesarstone home tour and included a welcome plate of housemade ‘Boursin’ cheese, chickpea fries, and a French 75 cocktail. The cheese melted in my mouth, and the rice cracker was thick and crunchy. The table devoured the welcome plate, appetites whetted.
A 2018 Joie Noble Blend arrived with an appetizer of arancini with arugula pesto, root vegetable salad with feta, and Okanagan apples. The feta was incredible and is created by a closely guarded complicated process that Skinner explains involves soft tofu and an emulsifying machine. No further details were forthcoming, no matter how much we tried.
The main course was served with a 2017 Spearhead ‘Coyote’ Pinot Noir, fragrant and fruity, the perfect pairing for the savoury platter that it accompanied – seared King Oyster mushrooms with fresh herb polenta, bundled green beans, and mushroom jus. Gorgeous and delicious. While the desserts, served on a selection of Caesarstone mini-slabs, were being prepared, Brian spoke with us about his memories of working in the city and the wealth of new life experiences that were being created in the interior of BC.
A selection of pumpkin cashew cheesecake, deconstructed lemon meringue, and coconut hemp chocolate truffles soon arrived, and the table swooned. The flavours were intense, and amongst tablemates, no consensus was reachable on which was the favourite.
A post-dessert conversation ensued regarding a dish experienced at The Acorn years ago, which included an incredible golden and crunchy deep-fried brick of rice.
Brian excitedly indicated that the rice element from the dish was on the current FWSY menu. Preparation is an involved process that starts with sushi rice that is soaked, cooked, pressed with weights to half its size (to create an incredible density), then deep-fried. The result is served with plantbased Bulgogi beef strips and chili sauce. Skinner insisted before leaving, we try the dish, and it did not disappoint. Savoury, spicy, tantalizing bites that resulted in a wonderfully warm sensation in our mouths as we made our way into the chilly Okanagan evening.
Brian’s journey as a chef began at just 16 years old when he first started working in kitchens. A decade later, his formal training as a chef began at the Vancouver Community College. He received his Red Seal Certification apprenticing at Bin 941 in 2005, where he quickly worked his way up to Sous Chef.
In search of a more profound culinary education, Brian went to Europe, where he gained Michelin Star experience in top tier restaurants. He spent time working in world-renowned kitchens such as Viajante and Sketch in London, England, as well as Nomain in Copenhagen, Denmark. He also worked as an instructor at The Underground Cookery School in London, England, where he led fine dining cooking classes.
Brian didn’t stop there. He acted at the Development Chef for Otarian Restaurant, the first fully carbon-footprinted restaurant in the world. He was also a member of the core team to design and launch production kitchens and retail outlets in New York and London with full vegetarian menus.
FRANKIE, WE SALUTE YOU
FWSY was designed and branded by Christina and we enjoyed the casual atmosphere which paired well with the comfort food in which the restaurant specializes. While our group enjoyed a customized and elevated menu, the most popular item, according to community appetites, is the Frankie Burger.
“We can sling 50 a day at times…and I may be a part of eating one or two of those. Just trying to do my part to keep the restaurant afloat!”
It is heartwarming (and heart-healthy) to know that the offerings at FWSY have been embraced by the community.
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