Vancouver’s Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts (PICAchef) welcomes visitors back this summer with the reopening of its on-site, marina-view Blue Hat Bakery-Café – a French-inspired bakery-café with a contemporary West Coast influence. The café, a long-time favourite at the entrance to Granville Island, now offers an exciting new aesthetic and an updated menu of sweet and savoury offerings.
As part of the remodel, the bar section existing restaurant has been incorporated into the bakery-café to accommodate a larger dine-in area and to create a bright, clean, open-concept space bathed in natural light. Dramatic pendant light fixtures throughout the café illuminate the grey and white quartzite countertops and a glass pastry display case showcases a rotating assortment of gorgeous desserts and artisanal baked goods prepared by PICAchef’s talented pastry chef-instructors and alumni. The new licensed bar area of the bakery-café features oversized windows that look onto the nearby False Creek waterfront and the picturesque North Shore Mountains.
The café interior has also been updated with key health and safety features including social-distancing floor markers, plexiglass screens at the counter to protect staff and guests, and increased space between tables. Frequent and extensive cleaning by café staff ensures that the utmost health and safety measures are undertaken for well-being of patrons. Outside, Blue Hat Bakery-Café’s licensed patio provides additional seating for visitors to enjoy food and drink while taking in the scenic surroundings of Granville Island.
Blue Hat Bakery-Café’s new menu of house-made baked goods and café fare is overseen by a team of award-winning, globally experienced pastry chefs. French-trained and long-time faculty member, Christian Lai Chun – Lead Pastry Chef, honed his skills in respected pâtisseries in Paris and Lyons, and in luxury hotel and resorts like the Taj and Ritz Carlton in Mauritius and Toronto respectively. Chef Christian most recently represented PICAchef as one of two Canadian pastry chefs to participate in the Final Six in the North American Valhrona C3 Chocolate Competition in New York.
Johannesburg raised and trained, Chef Natasha Norton, was a veteran pastry chef with Four Seasons resorts in her native South Africa and in Whistler before joining PICAchef. In February 2020, Chef Natasha was key member of Culinary Team BC that captured the Silver medal for Best Community Catering at the IKA Culinary Olympics in Stuttgart, Germany.
Parisian native and educated, Chef Julien Salomoni, who joined the PICAchef team in 2019, was previously the pastry chef at Au Comptoir, where he helped the Kitsilano French bistro win the Silver Award in the coveted ‘Best Dessert’ category at the 2019 Vancouver Magazine Restaurant Awards. Chef Julien’s previous experience includes being a key member of the launch team for the luxury tea emporium TWG in Singapore and Vancouver as well as in pâtisserie-cafés and restaurants in his hometown of Paris, France.
Updated for the spring-summer season, Blue Hat Bakery-Café’s daily menu includes classic French viennoiserie, artisanal breads, healthy gluten-free and vegan baked goods, and imaginative cakes, chocolates and confections. Guests who are looking for a heartier meal can choose from a wide variety of West-Coast style breakfast items such as Avo-Eggs & Bacon on Brioche and fritatines, savoury grilled sandwiches, hearty daily soups, and healthy and wholesome bowls, salads and entrées. Daily student features, a favorite of long-time customers, will also be returning to the café menu when students commence their studies in July.
Blue Hat Bakery-Café will also offer a convenient selection of fresh and frozen ‘Grab & Go’ prepared meals, in addition to must-have groceries and pantry items. The on-site shop stocks an array of basics and epicurean provisions including milk, butter, eggs, fruit and vegetables, pasta, sauces, oils, dry goods and more.
“If you haven’t been to Granville Island in a while, now is the perfect time to rediscover Blue Hat Bakery-Café,” says co-owner Sylvia Potvin. “As we move into the summer season, we look forward to welcoming new and returning guests again. We’re so excited to show off our beautiful new space and delicious menu of high-quality desserts and baked goods, and nourishing meals prepared by our talented and passionate team of professional chefs and alumni.”
Blue Hat Bakery-Café is open Wednesday to Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Nine complimentary parking spaces are available on a first come basis for guests in the parking structure off West 2nd Avenue.