Though I no longer work at a major daily and this blog is my sole outlet for the need to talk about food, Rob Feenie returns my request for a quick interview almost as soon as I put it in. He sounds both relaxed and excited as he explains his reasons for coming out to cook on the celebrity stage at the Eat! Fraser Valley show in Abbotsford this weekend.

He is there, he says, to promote the fact his employers, the Cactus Club Restaurants, are planning to open a restaurant in Abbotsford later this year. Although Feenie is described rather grandly as “Food Concept Architect” for the Cactus Club chain (don’t know if I would find a food concept all that appetizing, but never mind!), I have to admit, the food at CC has improved considerably since he’s taken over the menu and recipe development duties.

Rob Feenie

For those of you who may not know, Feenie was for many years the Golden Boy of Vancouver’s restaurant scene with his Lumiere Restaurant, which garnered too many awards to mention. He also won the Iron Chef title on the Food Network’s Iron Chef competition a few years ago. And he says he wouldn’t mind going back to the bright lights and pressures of that fierce competition.

But for now, Feenie seems content with his role at the CC chain, which gives him time to enjoy being Dad to three kids aged two, four and six. “My wife and my kids are now the most important things in my life,” says Feenie, who will cook some of his trademark dishes this weekend, including squash soup,  mini pulled-pork and grilled cheese buns and raw-milk ricotta and fresh herb ravioli. (more…)