To Die For Faces: Chefs Dale MacKay & Brad Hendrickson

by Erin Ireland | July/August 2012

Dale MacKay has never been busier, and he loves it.

In less than a year, the Vancouver-based chef won Top Chef Canada and opened two restaurants (Ensemble and Ensemble Tap—also known as eTap), all the while raising his own little Mini-Me: a ten-year-old son named Ayden.

“We’re big movie guys,” said MacKay, who believes in leading a balanced lifestyle, of himself and his son. “I’ll pick him up from school and we’ll come hang out here [eTap]. He’s part of the restaurant.”

If eTap is home away from home, Executive Chef Brad Hendrickson is like family. He and Dale are going on five years together. “I truly like working for Dale,” says Hendrickson. “He’s passionate and you can see that in how intense he gets.”

With a hankering for wings and draught beer, Hendrickson is the just kind of guy who MacKay believes will help take eTap to the next level. And the long term plan is inspiring: bring better “pub food” to the Canadian provinces that need it most.

Read on for MacKay and Hendrickson’s favourite foods in Vancouver.

Q: Will you show us your “to die for face”? (This is the expression occurring at the taste of “to die for food”—you know the one!)

See the pictures.

Brad Hendrickson’s To Die For Face

Q: The food you would most often describe as “to die for”?

DM: Barbecue. One time at Gordon Ramsay’s in NYC we barbecued at 10 a.m. There were five types of wings, ribs and coleslaw. No one could work after 11 a.m.; we were so full.

BH: Sausages, salami, and pata negro jamon from Spain. Windsor Meats here in Vancouver can order it in.

Q: Your favourite local restaurant?

DM: La Buca, La Quercia and Maenam. My son Ayden and I always go to these places because we like Italian. I don’t normally eat out without him.

BH: Phnom Penh. It’s pretty much my fiancé’s family’s restaurant. Their chicken wings are awesome.

Q: Your trashy indulgence? (that is, that late night 7-Eleven or drive-thru treat)

DM: McChicken, a Big Mac or 7-Eleven nachos. I love that nacho cheese.

BH: Wendy’s on a late night; it’s on the drive home. Also, Uncle Fatih’s Pizza. I ask them to warm it up again…“can you kill some of that bacteria?”

Q: The one food you refuse to eat?

DM: I love sushi, but don’t like sashimi. I won’t eat big chunks of raw salmon; I’ll gag if I do.

BH: Raw tomatoes. It’s a textural thing. The whole taking it off the vine and eating with salt—just can’t do that.

Dale MacKay’s To Die For Face

Q: The sexiest food?

DM: Fish, partly for the way you can make it look…elegant and clean. Crab is quite sexy, too.

BH: Jamon. I learned how to eat it properly: put it in your hands, warm it up; then, rub it against your lips (which get greasy). This warms the meat to your body temperature before you eat it, all salty and sweet.

Q: Your favourite dessert?

DM: Soufflé or Pavlova. Those are two dishes I never take off the menu at Ensemble.

BH: I’m a cookie fiend. They don’t stand a chance when they come to the house. Chocolate chip is great and peanut butter is second best.

Q: Your favourite comfort food?

DM: Burgoo’s grilled cheese and tomato soup, or anything my mom makes. Last night she cooked chicken and new potatoes. We go over on Sundays to have dinner and watch Family Guy.

BH: Ham and cheese sandwiches with mayo, mustard, brown bread, Dijon and cheese singles—not even good cheese, just processed Kraft singles. Also, my mom’s meatloaf.