Team Power Smart winner to cook with Vij's chef

Chef Meeru Dhalwala of Vij's Restaurant takes to the Vancouver Home and Interior Design Show stage alongside a Team Power Smart Contest winner on Saturday, September 11.

Blaine Kyllo

When chef, restaurateur and Team Power Smart Leader Meeru Dhalwala takes to the stage at the Vancouver Home + Interior Design Show on Saturday, September 11, she'll be joined by 17-year-old Christian Smith. To his delight, and also his mother's.

Christian is a budding gourmet, says Deborah Fowler on the phone from her Port Coquitlam home, and is relishing the opportunity to get some cooking tips from Meeru. His current specialty is scrambled eggs, and Deb can't wait to see what he can whip up after spending an hour with the co-owner – with husband Vikram Vij – of favourite Vancouver restaurants Vij's and Vij's Rangoli.

Early adopters

Deb, her husband, James Smith, and Christian have been Team Power Smart members since the program began in 2007, and have cut electricity consumption by 15 per cent.

"Everything gets turned off," says Deb, including lights, computers and anything else that gets plugged in. Deb also gets a kick out of wandering through her neighbours house and turning off lights there, too.

Over the past five years, nearly all of the appliances have been replaced with ENERGY STAR® models, and none of the machines run unless they have full loads.

Lights, too, are a source of savings. "Ninety per cent of our bulbs are CFLs," she adds, "and we have LED Christmas lights with timers."

Sustainable cooking

Sustainability in Deb's household goes beyond the basics. She's a volunteer for Port Coquitlam's Rivers and Trails Festival, and takes conservation seriously.

This summer they largely abandoned the stove and oven, and have been almost exclusively barbecuing. That way they were able to enjoy the warm summer evenings, and cut down on the energy used for cooking.

They shop locally when they can, by visiting the local butcher, for example, and use leftovers.

And because Deb plans the family's meals a week in advance, they only visit the grocery store once a week. Deb says it might seem like a simple thing, but it makes a big difference. "It's huge. The money we save doing one shop, and knowing what we're going to get, we've saved hundreds of dollars."

She knows that one of Meeru's kitchen secrets is using a pressure cooker, which can dramatically reduce cooking time. "I'm scared of them," Deb says, but she hopes that at the BC Hydro-sponsored cooking demonstration, Meeru will demonstrate how pressure cookers can be used simply and safely.

Cooking with Meeru

Meeru and Vikram are currently designing a new restaurant at Cambie and 16th in Vancouver, and sustainability is one of the driving principles of what will be the new flagship location for Vij's.

"Doing this demo is going to be a lot of fun," Meeru says. "Not only are we going to show people how you can cook really good food – economically – but we're also going to show how you can cook and be Power Smart while doing it."

Christian will join Meeru on stage at 2 p.m. on Saturday, September 11.

In addition to the hands-on cooking with Meeru, Christian and his parents will be taking home a copy of the cookbook Vij's at Home: Relax, Honey, so Christian can put into practice what he's learned.

Deb is hoping that even though Christian will be the one on stage, she'll be the real beneficiary of the Team Power Smart prize because her son will expand his cooking repertoire. "I love Indian food," she says, "it's absolutely wonderful."

BC Hydro at the Vancouver Home + Interior Design Show

Visit BC Hydro at the Vancouver Convention Centre during the Vancouver Home + Interior Design Show.

We'll have Energy Coaches on hand to explain how you can shrink your energy bills and your environmental impact, and you can learn about the latest energy-efficient products to help you save money and energy, courtesy of SEARS.

Vancouver Home + Interior Design Show
Vancouver Convention Centre
Thursday, September 9 from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Friday, September 10, from noon to 9 p.m.
Saturday, September 11, from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Sunday, September 12, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Source: BC Hydro News