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Jeremy Papier, the new Alice Waters of the Vancouver food world, is fast becoming known for his radically rear-guard cuisine—tradition-steeped dishes that celebrate the bounty of the Pacific Northwest. His restaurant, The Monkey’s Paw Bistro, is always fully booked, but, unfortunately, it’s more an artistic triumph than a reasonably run business. Far too costly ever to turn a profit, it is kited by Jeremy on dozens of maxed-out credit cards. An old family friend, Dante Beale, owner of a worldwide chain of cookie-cutter coffeehouses, is willing to bail the restaurant out—for the price of sole control. It’s a business proposition made in hell, one strenuously opposed by Jeremy’s pretty young sous chef, the incorruptible, plainspoken Jules.
Jeremy’s problems deepen when his eccentric-academic father—a “participatory anthropologist” half Joseph Mitchell, half Joe Gould—loses himself among the homeless in Vancouver’s Stanley Park. He lives as they do (he’s especially adept…[more]