Interview with Chef Shane King of El Santo
In the heart of downtown New Westminster, on Columbia Street, you’ll find the colourful and vibrant spirit of Mexico at El Santo. The menu here reveals the best of contemporary Mexican cuisine, with a focus on sustainability from Chef Shane King.
Together, owner Alejandro Diaz and Chef Shane King have created an innovative menu that tastefully pairs local ingredients with traditional (though perhaps lesser known) Mexican favourites to create fresh dishes reminiscent of Alejandro’s homeland.
Canadian-born Chef Shane is well suited to El Santo’s fare and flavours with his focus on Mexican cuisine – with modern interpretations. Indeed, El Santo’s dishes have been inspired by Shane’s extensive travels throughout Mexico and Central America, along with his 20+ years experience working in fine restaurants, distinguished catering outfits, and exclusive resorts and hotels.
Here’s our quick Q&A with Chef Shane:
What Fraser Valley ingredient inspires you the most? And why?
Corn! Because when the corn crops are in full swing, it means that summer is here and everyone starts eating more locally-sourced ingredients. Also, it’s such a versatile ingredient.
When did you start cooking?
I began cooking at an early age thanks to my parents. Both of them are incredible cooks, and I was constantly encouraged to try new things.
What do you think is the most important part about sourcing ingredients locally?
I really believe that you can taste the difference when an ingredient is local. I also believe in supporting the farms close to home for economic reasons.
Why did you choose to become a chef?
Being a chef is a never-ending learning process, and it’s also always evolving.
What is your favourite part about cooking with BC ingredients? And why?
The window for harvest of most ingredients is short, so I appreciate the timely aspect of utilizing the freshest ingredients in a timely manner.
As a chef, what is one thing that is very important to you in your cooking?
Having people taste the complexity of flavours and the balance of all the ingredients.
If you could only have one last meal, what would it be?
I would have to say that it would be fresh Dungeness crab.
What was your first restaurant job? Tell us about it.
I was a dishwasher at Kelly O’ Bryans and eventually moved up to line cook. We were a very busy establishment in those days, and the dinner rushes became something I really looked forward to.