Evolution of food keeps UVic club chef intrigued

Colour Your Palate among the special events that inspire at University Club

Mark Davie

Mark Davie

From bangers and mash to Yoda soda and bento boxes, chef Mark Davie thrives on the continuous transformations and family atmosphere of the University Club.

More than three decades ago, Davie walked into a downtown restaurant where he knew a guy who told him of a sous chef position at the then Faculty Club, and headed over to the University of Victoria.

“I came up here and I was working that afternoon,” says Davie, now the executive chef. “I’ve been here ever since.”

After less than a year in the position he took over the kitchen at what’s now the University Club and open to members and alumni, as well as faculty. Back then there were few offerings of food on campus; now multiple food outlets dot the UVic landscape.

“There’s a lot more vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free… that’s what’s changed,” he says. “When I first came here it was all bangers and mash because the professors were all English.”

It was a step up from his first job in Victoria teaching people to sail; essentially “sailing and cooking through the San Juan Islands” only because the job existed more than three months a year. The University Club isn’t reliant on the tourism industry.

“We’re busy all the time. Most of the staff have been here 10 or 20 years. It’s almost like a family. A lot of people you know what they’ll order before they sit down,” he says. “It’s not as exclusive as it used to be, but you still need to be a member. We have 11,000 members, but they don’t all show up at the same time.”

Mitchell’s Moat, filled from the adjoining trickling Bowker Creek, backs the club where deck chairs and a patio await guests during spring and summer. It’s named for Faculty Club creator and UVic chemistry professor Dr. Reg Mitchell. Well-known as mad scientist Dr. Zonk, “he used to bring the kids in to get them interested in science,” Davie says. It was renamed in his honour in 2012, four years after the professor emeritus retired.

The pond and wooded setting hosts 16 to 20 weddings – fewer now as Davie sees a rise in destination nuptials – each May to October season. Big events such as United Way kickoffs and the approaching Colour Your Palate fundraiser keep things interesting alongside the smaller parties all year long, such as the recent Star Wars event for children. For that Davie got to create a green slime-like Yoda soda.

Between that and the bento boxes on the menu, they’ve come a long way food-wise. “You get to play,” Davie says.

Alongside special events are the clubs: wine club, beer club, whiskey club, (and the anticipated cocktail club) keep the food ever-evolving.

“That’s another thing that’s interesting. You’re trying a wine, and marrying it with a food so it’s always different,” he says. “That’s the thing about B.C. We like fusion, that’s why the food is so good. We’re the luckiest in the world here … Victoria has the best cuisine in the world, so does Vancouver.”

Davie and the club play host to Colour Your Palate for the fourth time this spring. It also marks the fourth time Davie will vie for a win in the competition that raises funds for the ArtsReach programs that bring art into classrooms. The event launches today (Wednesday) with chefs drawing for their “colour” which they’ll use to create their dish.

“We enjoy it. I get my apprentices involved because it’s fun for them,” Davie says. He enjoys engaging those young minds and creating both colourful food and the table dressing to sell the product. With their colour drawn one month before the event, chefs select their ingredients, experiment and perfect their canapé before the competition. Judges select the Best Tasting Creation and Most Colourful Creation while guests vote on People’s Choice.

Colour Your Palate is May 11 at the University Club. Visit artsreach.ca for tickets ($65).

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Victoria police are seeking a young woman suspected of spitting on a bus driver in October 2020. (Courtesy of Victoria Police Department)
Young woman sought after ‘spitting assault’ on Victoria bus driver

Suspect became irate after bus came to a sudden stop

Victoria police will be making numerous arrests throughout the day Jan. 27 as part of its #VicPDWarrantWednesday project. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
Numerous arrests today part of Victoria police #WarrantWednesday project

VicPD says arrests part of warrant enforcement project

A tip from the public helped Victoria police located and arrest wanted men Jonathon Muzychka and Dean Reber. (Courtesy of Victoria Police Department)
Tips lead police to arrest convicted killer, robber near downtown Victoria

Two men were at large after failing to return to community facility

Police are warning people of flu shot and vaccination frauds. (Black Press Media file photo)
Flu shot fraud charges West Shore resident for non-existent appointments

Fraudulent email claimed to be from London Drugs

A Cessna 170 airplane similar to the one pictured above is reported to be missing off the waters between Victoria and Washington State. Twitter photo/USCG
UPDATE: No sign of small plane that went down in Juan de Fuca Strait

Searchers out on both sides of border between Victoria and Port Angeles

(Twitter/Ateachersaurus)
The Pachena Bay shoreline in 2013. (Twitter/Ateachersaurus)
This week in history: 9.0 magnitude quake struck under what is now called Vancouver Island

According to First Nations elders, the 9.0-magnitude quake in 1700 CE kick-started a tsunami

B.C. Premier John Horgan speaks at B.C. legislature on the province’s mass vaccination plan for COVID-19, Jan. 22, 2021. (B.C. government)
COVID-19 quarantine not an option for B.C., John Horgan says

Apres-ski parties increase risk, not interprovincial travel

Worker at Swartz Bay terminal on Monday, January 20, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito)
Former BC Ferries employee alleges he was fired because of his race

Imraan Goondiwala has been granted a BC Human Rights Tribunal hearing

An Island Health graph showing COVID-19 cases in the central Island by local health area between Dec. 27 and Jan. 23. (Island Health image)
Central Island’s COVID-19 case spike shifting, says Island Health

Cowichan Valley has seen the highest number of cases, but Nanaimo and south Island seeing upticks

Rodney and Ekaterina Baker have been ticketed and charged under the Yukon’s Civil Emergency Measures Act for breaking isolation requirements in order to sneak into a vaccine clinic and receive Moderna vaccine doses in Beaver Creek. (Facebook/Submitted)
B.C. couple who travelled to Yukon for COVID vaccine ineligible for 2nd dose until summer

The province is ensuring those eligible to receive the vaccine get the second shot within 42 days

(File)
Mask dispute in court leaves Vancouver cop with broken leg

Man allegedly refused to put on a mask and resisted arrest

(Kraft Dinner/Twitter)
Kraft Dinner launches candy-flavoured mac and cheese just in time for Valentine’s Day

Sweet and cheesy treat will be here just in time for the cheesiest holiday of the year

Extensive water on No. 4 and 5 at the Mount Brenton Golf Course following heavy rains earlier this month. (Photo submitted)
Island golf course does a booming business in 2020

A total of 15,000 more rounds played than the previous year at Mount Brenton

Most Read