Last night I was lucky enough to be invited to a screening of a new tv show on the Oprah Winfrey Network called “Gastown Gamble“. The weather got in on the action as well and disguised itself appropriately as “Vancouver winter” complete with rain and fog – eventually giving way to gale force winds! Fortunately (for me!) the event was held at the building I work in so all I had to do after work was head upstairs to the buildings’ 8th floor event space and theatre.
My friend and I were among the early-bird arrivals (this is what happens when you work in the building) but being early has it’s advantages! We got into a short line up for a “50’s style cocktail” and helped ourselves to the finger foods circulating the floor.
Our cocktails were a little time consuming for the bartenders to make (we felt a bit bad for the 2 of them, surrounded by slobbering, hungry-eyed hordes staring holes in the booze bottles) but delicious. I had a sweet/tart Brugal rum Mai Tai made with freshly squeezed lime juice, dark rum and simple syrup and my friend had a Maker’s Mark Old fashioned that made us feel like Don Draper just by being in it’s proximity.
If the food that was making the rounds is any indication of what Save-On -Meats (the restaurant/butcher shop/diner/etc. represented in the show) serves, I’m getting on the next flight to Vancouver just for another taste of those mini sliders. I may be going off topic here but the meat was soft, flavourful and perfect – and I’m not even much of a red meat fan. They also served mini vegetarian chili, mini cucumber sandwiches, mini corned beef sandwiches, and at the end of the night a chocolate chip-bacon and walnut cookie that now lives in my dreams.
“Gastown Gamble” itself looks promising. We were shown the first episode followed by a Q&A session with Mark Brand – the “star” of the show (for lack of a better term). I went in almost completely ignorant of what it was about, and had absolutely no idea who Mark Brand was. I expected a show along the lines of the Food Network’s “Opening Soon” – and in some ways I suppose I wasn’t entirely wrong. Mark Brand, a B.C. restauranteur has a dream to create a community restaurant that would serve – not alienate – the locals in Vancouver’s notorious Gastown neighbourhood. He has chosen to re-invigorate a historic 100- year-old landmark building that formerly housed iconic Save-On-Meats.
The episode opens with an intro to Mark Brand, a brief explanation about what the Gastown neighbourhood in Vancouver is like (shady but becoming increasingly, if slowly gentrified), and a little bit of back story on the Save-On-Meats building. We are introduced to some of the main “characters” of the show including Nico, Mark’s inexperienced yet hard working wife, and my personal early favourite, “Football Mike”. We learn that Mark and his team hope to provide jobs and affordable, healthy meals for the Gastown’s less fortunate folk, and to inspire others to do the same. A noble cause indeed. It definitely inspired an interest in the place for me, and if I lived nearby I’d probably be making plans to stop by Save-O-Meats after work tonight.
My one complaint(?) about the first episode of the show is that it didn’t give me enough. I want to know MORE! What’s the deal with Football Mike? Mark alluded to “losing him” in the past – what does that mean? Who exactly *is* Mark and how did he get into this business? How have Gastown neighbourhood residents reacted so far? I’m hoping future episodes will answer some of these questions for me. I’ll be tuning in to find out more!
Gastown Gamble premieres tonight on OWN Canada at 9:30pm.