By Kristi Alexandra
Chef Trevor Bird is an exceptionally hard man to track down, but you can blame his busy schedule on his ambition.
The restaurateur has many titles: owner of Fable Kitchen, which founded Fable Diner; co-founder of MeatMe, a high-quality meat delivery service; caterer; husband; father; and most recently, preserve maker.
Bird earned his chops in several kitchens, but his name may be best recognized in family living rooms from his time on Top Chef Canada season two, and then again on Top Chef Canada: All Stars. From there, Vancouverites with farm-to-table tastes (Bird’s modus operandi) may have been following along with Fable Kitchen, the Kitsilano restaurant that opened in 2012.
When WestCoastFood finally reached Bird, he was quick to explain that he’s going to replace busy-ness with passion for the rest of the year.
“In 2019, I’m really trying to dial everything back and concentrate on certain things,” he says, noting that he recently stepped away from his second restaurant, Fable Diner, the Mount Pleasant eatery serving up morning breakfasts to evening burgers, all with farm fresh ingredients.
“There was a bit much on my plate,” he says. No pun intended.
“I exited [Fable] Diner four months ago. I didn’t open it to have a second job so I stepped back from that. My jam is a side-hustle that I do for fun.”
The jam in question is Bird’s famed Black Pepper Jam, a preserved condiment that’s a revered staple at Fable. It’s served up with house-made sausages at both Fable Kitchen and Fable Diner and, in the past, the restaurants would give some of the precious jelly away for events like Mother’s Day.
Now, diners can take a little bit of the buzz home with them. No special event necessary.
“It was a very long time in the making. We started doing it on our own, we started canning it. We were like ‘This stuff lasts forever and people like it!’”
Bird’s love of Black Pepper Jam, however, is not a commitment to another full-time job.
“It’s not like I’m trying to make a condiment company,” he says. “A jar of it is like an expensive business card; it fits with our brand nicely and it doesn’t take up a lot of time.”
Add the signature sauce to your own table, as Bird notes, or gift it to a loved one. Either way, the chef’s passion for making Black Pepper Jam matches the demand for it, which is high.
“Nothing is as big as Black Pepper Jam,” Bird says, revealing a little-known secret about the savoury sauce.
“When I first tried it, it was absolutely terrible,” he admits. “Then someone at the restauarant was like ‘Hey, try it on this steak.’ It blew my mind how good it was [on meat]. I just had to mess with the recipe a bit.”
So, if you’re looking to take some of the much-praised preserve home, heed Bird’s advice.
“Cook chicken, steak, pork, or sausage and use it on protein as a meat sauce. Don’t put it on toast,” he says with a laugh. “It may ruin your toast experience.”
You can find Trevor Bird’s Black Pepper Jam at Fable Kitchen (1944 W 4th Ave.), in select shops across BC’s Lower Mainland, in Alberta, and in Ontario. Find a full list of vendors here.