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Stanley Park

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Overview

Betty Quan's full-cast dramatization of Timothy Taylor's sizzling first novel reveals the dark side of fine dining. Alessandro Juliani stars as Jeremy Papier, a brilliant, young Parisian-trained chef, who will do almost anything to keep his high-end Vancouver restaurant, Monkey's Paw Bistro, afloat. Jeremy, who views the cooking industry in terms of gang warfare, is a self-styled "Blood," a believer in preparing unpretentious dishes from fresh, local ingredients. He has nothing but contempt for the "Crips" who ...

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Overview

Betty Quan's full-cast dramatization of Timothy Taylor's sizzling first novel reveals the dark side of fine dining. Alessandro Juliani stars as Jeremy Papier, a brilliant, young Parisian-trained chef, who will do almost anything to keep his high-end Vancouver restaurant, Monkey's Paw Bistro, afloat. Jeremy, who views the cooking industry in terms of gang warfare, is a self-styled "Blood," a believer in preparing unpretentious dishes from fresh, local ingredients. He has nothing but contempt for the "Crips" who bow to every passing food fad. But when his latest financial scam fails, Jeremy is forced to strike a deal with the devil in the form of Dante Beale (played by Scott Hylands), the owner of an undeniably "Crip" chain of gourmet coffee shops. Mix in Jeremy's eccentric professor father — who lives with the homeless in Stanley Park — and a decades-old mystery involving two murdered children, and you have a tantilizing concoction of satire and suspence.

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Editorial Reviews

National Post
Not since Isak Dinesen's Babette's Feast has so lavish a table been set for the reader
Publishers Weekly
What's local in a world that is becoming one global monoculture? That's the question confronting Jeremy Papier, the Vancouver chef at the center of Taylor's comic debut novel. Jeremy divides chefs into two types: the transnational Crips, who mix, say, Chilean farm-bred salmon and kimchi, without compunction; and Bloods, who are purists, stubbornly local in their food choices. Along with his friend Jules Capelli, another Blood, Jeremy runs the Monkey's Paw Bistro, making meals from mostly local ingredients for local foodies. Storm clouds lie on the horizon, however. Jeremy is deep in debt. To get by, he scams some $2,000 with the aid of Benny, a customer-turned-girlfriend. The scam backfires, and Jeremy has to turn to Dante Beale, an old family friend and the owner of a national chain of coffee houses, for money. Dante redesigns the bistro, turning it into a potential Crip palace. Jules is fired. Jeremy, under contract, remains. Turning for solace to his father, an anthropologist whose major project is living with the homeless in Stanley Park, Jeremy is reluctantly drawn into his father's work and the investigation of a decades-old mystery involving two children killed in the park. Along the way, he becomes fascinated by cooking for the homeless, and the joys of preparing squirrel, raccoon and starlings carry him into a glorious prank, which he plays at the opening of Beale's redesigned bistro. Taylor has written a sort of cook's version of the anti-WTO protests, striking a heartfelt and entertaining blow against conformity. (June) Forecast: Foodies will be the base readership for Taylor's novel (mentions in food magazines and on food Web sites should help alert them to its publication), though it is a literary title in its own right and was shortlisted for the Giller Prize in Canada. It should do particularly well on the West Coast, where its political and culinary sensibilities will resonate (Taylor will embark on a West Coast tour). Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
An uneven but tasty debut about a Vancouver chef who turns guerrilla prankster while trying to reconnect with his slightly mad anthropologist father. Jeremy Papier chose his colors in cooking school, a place he saw as being divided between Crips and Bloods. Jeremy can't stand the Crips, who "tended to stack things like mahi-mahi and grilled eggplant in wobbly towers glued together with wasabi mayonnaise," while being a Blood means being linked to tradition but not beholden to it. Jeremy has come from France to start up his own bistro in Vancouver. Reasonably successful, the place still isn't doing as well as it should, and the badly straitened Jeremy is also indebted to the ludicrous corporate-caricature Dante Beale for a quarter-million. Meanwhile, his anthropologist father-who practices a brand of immersive research that involves living in Stanley Park with the homeless tribes he's writing about-seems to be sliding further down a slippery mental slope. As Jeremy is forced into ever-more desperate schemes to stay afloat, he feels a kinship with his father, whose research about connections to the land mirrors his own desires to cook with local ingredients. Hovering like a shark is Dante, who calls in his debt from Jeremy, forcing him into a partnership in a pretentious Crip palace. Dante is horrifying to Jeremy partly because he runs a chain of popular coffeehouses called (of course) Inferno, offending Jeremy's senses to the core. Award-winning storywriter Taylor (whose first collection will be published in fall 2002) is obviously also offended, and his passion for the original and non-co-opted provides his tale both with its passion and its worst elements: Dante's latte lairs are weaksatire at best, and the subplot about Jeremy's father never quite gels-both distracting from Taylor's delightful depictions of Jeremy's culinary creations. Still, the reader is plunged right into the steamy excitement of a great restaurant going at full throttle, creating a serious craving, say, for Jeremy's grilled lime-marinated sockeye salmon.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781582432908
  • Publisher: Counterpoint Press
  • Publication date: 10/21/2003
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 432
  • Sales rank: 607,688
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Winner of the Journey Prize for his short fiction, Timothy Taylor grew up in Vancouver and Edmonton and worked for several years as a banker in Toronto before becoming a full-time writer. Stanley Park was finalist for the 2001 Giller Prize.

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Read an Excerpt

the canvasback

They arranged to meet at Lost Lagoon. It was an in-between place, the city on one side, Stanley Park on the other. Ten years of rare contact, and they had sought each other out. Surprised each other, created expectations.

Now the Professor was late.

Jeremy Papier found a bench up the hill from the lagoon and opened a section of newspaper across the wet boards. The bench was between two cherry trees, the pink blossoms of which met high over his head forming an arch, a doorway. It wasn't precisely the spot they'd discussed--the Professor had suggested the boathouse--but it was within eyesight, within shouting distance. It was close enough. If he had to wait, Jeremy thought, settling onto the paper and blowing out a long breath, he was going to sit. He crossed one long, aching leg over the other. He fingered the tooling on a favourite pair of cowboy boots, ran long fingers through tangled black hair.

He sat because he was tired, certainly. Jeremy accepted that being a chef, even a young chef, meant being exhausted most of the time. But there had also been a family portrait taken here, on this bench, years before. Also early spring, he remembered; the three of them had sat here under the cherry blossoms.

Jeremy on the one side, seven years old. His mother, Helene, on the other. The Professor had his arms around them both, feet flat on the grass. He looked extremely pleased. Jeremy's mother was less obviously so, her expression typically guarded, although she made dozens of copies of the photo and sent these off to relatives spread across Europe from Ireland to Spain, from the Czech Republic to as far east as Bulgaria. Documenting settlement. He wondered if hisfather, who had no relations other than those in the photo, would remember this detail.

Now Jeremy lit a cigarette and watched an erratic stream of homeless people making their way into the forest for the night. When he arrived there had been seawall walkers and hotdog eaters, birdwatchers, rollerbladers, chess players returning from the picnic tables over by bowling greens. Then lagoon traffic changed direction like a freak tide. The flow of those heading back to their warm apartments in the West End tapered to nothing, and the paths were filled with the delusional, the alcoholic, the paranoid, the bipolar. The Professor's subjects, his obsession. The inbound. Four hundred hectares of Stanley Park offering its bleak, anonymous shelter to those without other options.

Of course, Jeremy didn't have to remind himself, the Professor had other options.

They had discussed meeting on the phone earlier in the week. When Jeremy picked up--expecting a late reservation, maybe his black-cod supplier, who was due into Vancouver the next morning--he heard wind and trees rustling at the other end of the line. Normally reticent, the Professor was animated about his most recent research.

"... following on from everything that I have done," he said, "culminating with this work." From his end, standing at a pay phone on the far side of the lagoon, the Professor could hear the dishwasher hammering away in the background
behind his son's tired response.

"Participatory anthropology. Is that what you call it now?" Jeremy was saying. "I thought it was immersive."

"Like everything," the Professor answered, "my work has evolved."

He needed help with something, the Professor said. He wanted to meet.

"How unusual," Jeremy said.

"And what advice can I give on running a restaurant?" the Professor shot back.

"None," Jeremy answered. "I just said there was something I wanted to talk to you about. Something that had to do with the restaurant."

"Strange times," the Professor said, looking into the darkness around the pay phone. Checking instinctively.

Very strange. The stream of those inbound had slowed to a trickle. A trio of men passed, bent behind shopping carts that were draped and hung with plastic, heaped to the height of pack horses, bags full of other bags. Jeremy could only wonder at the purpose of them all, although the Professor could have told him that the bag itself captured the imagination. It held emblematic power. For its ability to hold, certainly. To secure contents, to carry belongings from place to place. But even the smell of the plastic, its oily permanence, suggested the resilience of things discarded.

Jeremy watched the three men make their way around the lagoon and disappear into the trails. He glanced at his watch, sighed. Lifted his chin and breathed in the saline breeze. It brought to mind the ocean beyond the park, sockeye salmon schooling in the deep, waiting for the DNA-encoded signal to turn in their millions and rush the mouth of the Fraser, the tributary offshoot, the rivulet of water and the gravel-bed spawning grounds beyond. Mate, complete the cycle, die. And then, punctuating this thought, the rhododendron bushes across the lawn boiled briefly and disgorged Caruzo, the Professor's manic vanguard.

"Hey, hey," Caruzo said, approaching the bench. "Chef Papier." He exhaled the words in a blast.

He dressed for the mobile outdoor life, Caruzo. Three or four sweaters, a torn corduroy jacket, a heavy coat, then a raincoat over all of that. It made the big man even bigger, the size of a lineman, six foot five, although stooped a little with the years. Those being of an indeterminate number; Jeremy imagined only that it must be between fifty and ninety. Caruzo had a white garbage bag tied on over one shoe, although it was only threatening to rain, and pants wrapped at the knees in electrical tape. His ageless, wind-beaten face was protected by a blunt beard that fell to his chest. Exposed skin had darkened, blackened as a chameleon might against the same forest backdrop.

"The Professor," Caruzo announced, "is waiting."

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 9, 2002

    Strong first book

    A really interesting read which manages to combine such seemingly disparate themes as food (described in passionate detail), the homeless of Vancouver and father-son relationships. I bought this book with no expectations and was pleasantly surprised. I look forward to future works.

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