Becoming a chef is not the expected outcome for a fellow who went to university to study business and philosophy before planning to go to law school. Blame it on his wife, Shannon. It all started when they began dating and Adrian, knowing women were impressed when men cooked, starting inviting her over for dinner. What started as light research – watching cooking shows on television – went from being an inspiration to an obsession, with Adrian taping hundreds of hours. In particular, a show featuring a chef who went directly to the field to choose peppers for his evening menu impressed him the most.
Adrian decided to take a year off to try out cooking. He dropped out of university and moved to Kelowna where he got a job in the kitchen of Earl’s Restaurant. His first major opportunity after that came from a little restaurant in Abbotsford with a great reputation, Joseph’s, where Adrian was given free rein to create. Among his other opportunities were the Gatsby Mansion in Victoria, where he developed his passion for local food, and Piccolo Mondo, where he had the opportunity to study under two star Michelin chef, Stephen Meyer.
After about ten years in restaurants, Adrian decided he wanted to be home more with his two boys, so he took a daytime position with a catering company. According to him, it was a cushy job that elicited no passion on his part. However, it did make it clear to him that he truly loved creating in a kitchen, so he and Shannon decided to take the leap and open their own restaurant, The Seasonal Experience, in downtown Langley.
The big incentive to take the leap was the opportunity to take a building with a six month free lease in return for fixing it up. The building was full of graffiti and had to be refurbished completely but the rent price was perfect. As Adrian says, “We got to make a lot of mistakes that didn’t destroy us.”
Seasonal Experience also gave Adrian the opportunity to fulfill his passion for working with local growers and producers. He would go out in the fields, research best growers, and invite them to the restaurant so they could see what he had in mind.
The best part of the new restaurant was that it was small and cozy, which meant that it was almost like inviting guests into a home. Clients could come to the kitchen to say hi and Adrian could easily engage with them. The best feature also became the biggest challenge. They became a victim of their own success and outgrew the space.
In 2009, they moved to their current location just on 56th Avenue in Langley, just off the trans Canada Highway. They kept the Seasonal Experience name for the catering business – which has become a runaway success – and decided to name to restaurant Seasonal 56. Chef Adrian has continued to collaborate with the local growers and producers, always inviting new ones to show him what they are doing, and often incorporating new items on the menu.