Tapenade Bistro celebrated its ninth anniversary in January, a milestone indeed in the ever changing world of restaurants. Tapenade Bistro has achieved what so many restaurants strive to be recognized for; their award-winning food, excellent wines and outstanding service.
In the early days, owner Vince Morlet had a vision that his restaurant would be an urban style bistro. Over time he realized that honouring what they do best is key, to be a neighbourhood bistro in the heart of Steveston village featuring French and Mediterranean inspired West Coast fare. Their “simple, yet elegant” cuisine showcases the natural beauty of local, sustainable and seasonal ingredients in an appropriate and sumptuous manner. Morlet’s charm and warmth is inextricably linked to the ambience of Tapenade Bistro as he circulates the restaurant floor to welcome his customers.
Morlet was born in Los Angeles. His parents, originally from France, moved their family to Steveston when Morlet was fourteen-years-old. After graduating from Steveston High, he began his career in the food industry as a waiter in a Richmond restaurant, and subsequently worked his way into hotel and restaurant management in Vancouver, Brazil and France. In that time he also earned a degree in Political Science and a Diploma in Hospitality. He changed career paths briefly when he went into recruiting and head hunting, but returned in 2002 as a restaurateur and Tapenade Bistro was born.
Morlet’s paternal grandfather ran a café/delicatessen in Paris’s 20th arrondissement. Although Morlet never met his grandfather, he grew up seeing the enchanting black and white photographs of his grandfather’s Parisian establishment.
From day one the following perennial favourites have appeared on Tapenade Bistro’s menu: Bouillabaisse (which is ever evolving, subject to availability of seafood) and Black Olive Tapenade (which is absolutely delicious). Other popular items which appear year round include Beef Short Rib, Beet Salad and Linguine Boscaiola. Keeping the menu both seasonal and local is of utmost importance; therefore you will see a large portion of the menu change according to availability.
Recently appointed as Head Chef, Justin Cheung, will introduce his first menu in April. As part of their commitment to sustainability, Tapenade Bistro supports local suppliers, and local farms including Terra Nova Farm. They also take part in Vancouver Aquarium’s Ocean Wise sustainable seafood program which works directly with restaurants, markets, food services and suppliers to assist them in making ocean-friendly buying decisions.
Each winter Tapenade Bistro partners with local wineries to present their Winemakers Dinner Series. These special evenings pair six wines with six courses, and shine the spotlight on reputed B.C. winemakers who are present to discuss their wines. Next up is Poplar Grove on April 4th and La Frenz on April 25th, both from the Naramata Bench. These dinners always sell out, so be sure to book quickly.
Tapenade Bistro has many long term staff that Morlet refers to as the “Tapenade family”. Like so many business owners, Morlet spends many long days behind the scenes as he takes care of administrative work, meeting with vendors, promoting and marketing the restaurant, and he is on the restaurant floor during dining hours.
Morlet and his wife Juliana, who is a business analyst, have two sons, ages two and seven. On his time off, Morlet enjoys checking out Vancouver’s restaurant scene. Having spent 27 years of his life in Steveston he feels akin to the fishing village and believes the greatest things about Steveston are its size, the people, and the village’s unique position in the Lower Mainland.
As Vice-President of the Steveston Merchants Association’s Board of Directors, and one of its founding members, he is an active community liaison. Morlet is also on the Executive Committee of Tourism Richmond’s Board of Directors. Tapenade Bistro is a supporter of YVR’s Golf for Kids annual fundraiser which assists children’s charities including Canuck Place Children’s Hospice.
As snowflakes are gently falling outside my window, I can think of no finer place to be than in a warm Mediterranean environment eating a bowl of Bouillabaisse. Tapenade Bistro is yet another reason to not have to leave Steveston; it’s all here, well maybe not the Mediterranean heat, quite yet!
3711 Bayview Street
written by Sarah Gordon, photos by Sandra Steier