My friend. It all started one November evening 20 years ago. We were a bit younger and zealous skiers. We rented an apartment in Tamarisk. On that Saturday evening after dinner, my friends stayed at home, but I ventured out to check out the local restaurant just around the corner with an intriguing illuminated sign above the Alta Lake Road called Le Deux Gros.
It was rather late and there were no more guests in the restaurant. I settled into a cozy chair next to the wood fireplace. A man in a chef’s apron with a smile and friendly posture appeared from the kitchen. In a heavy French accent he said: “Good evening sir, what would you like”? Being in a very French restaurant with a very French décor I thought asking for a beaujolais nouveau that just came out, might strike a good note.
“It’s been overrated” he said, “let me offer you a good red instead.” I did not argue, as it looked to me that I would lose. He reappeared from behind the bar with two glasses. “Nobody here, let me join you”.
We introduced ourselves to each other and after a couple more glasses of good French red and friendly conversation I sensed that this accidental encounter that evening would undeniably improve my existence for the better. That was how I first met the chef and proprietor Pascal Tiphine. Since that time the restaurant has become my second home in Whistler. Every Friday coming from Vancouver with my friends we would make the left turn to Le Deux Gros before heading on to our place in Tamarisk.
My friends have long left to pursue other ventures around the globe, but I stayed behind. Now make that left turn up to the restaurant, now Le Gros, with my wife to say hello to the chef, check who is sitting at the bar or at the chef’s table, exchange news, have a ‘green tea’ and start our weekend. No exceptions.
The chef has been my friend for the last 20 years, and what a friend and what a personality. His sense of humor is legendary. Sometimes I happened to be on the receiving end, but it was all in good spirits. And with him, all his many friends became our friends — a huge, diverse and cheerful crowd and an endless stream of remarkable characters that loved good wine, good jokes and most of all, good and honest food.
The chef would go an extra mile to make his guests happy. He was an entertainer. He would call for a ‘little picnic’ and from cavernous coolers unveil his homemade delicacies. His July 14 petanque tournaments to celebrate Bastille Day are unrivalled. unrivalled.
I still remember lining up impatiently, or sneaking through the back door, to get into the Sundial lounge that he ran in the ‘80s long before we met. Too many deeds to fill in one man’s life. If “legendary” is allowed to bestow on a person it must be you.
I’m missing very much already our left hand turns to the restaurant and I will miss them for the rest of my life. And I will miss you Pascal, my good friend. You didn’t plan it this way. We know. What else remain to be said? You gave us your big heart and we will carry it in our memories.