John Hellum

John Hellum, Man About Town

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John Hellum

John Hellum is a retired long time resident of Qualicum Beach. He was born in Vancouver and grew up in the middle of the multi-cultured food world of that city and acquired a taste for all foods, even the most ambiguous, at an early age.

He moved to the Island in 1975 and got his first job as a bus boy at the Qualicum College Inn. He never looked back. Having graduated from the Malaspina Culinary Arts program in 1977 he continued to work both in the front of the house and kitchens of Vancouver’s finest restaurants “The William Tell” and “Il Palazzo di Umberto.” Finally owning his own restaurant “The Judge’s Manor” in 1982. Ten years later after selling his restaurant, he traveled and began writing food articles and restaurant res for magazines and newspapers both on the Island and abroad. He continues to do this as well as some consulting.

His published book “Tales from the Man in the Black Hat”, stories about food experiences can be found at He has also published a book of poetry.

Current Article: June 2010


“Nosh”, a Yiddish word meaning a small bite.

As is usual today, the noun has become interchangeable as a verb, thus ‘noshing’ is an eating style, a pleasurable snack time, that, ideally you share with a friend or intimate.

Noshing is perfect for two (although it’s acceptable for one or any number0, with wine or cappuccino.

With more people it becomes a more structured social meal, a brunch or late night repast. Informal, yes; intimate, perhaps; social most definitely.

Now that you have chosen your company, the place and style are next most important. Most cultures have a style corresponding to noshing…. The Spanish have tapas, the French have hors d’oeuvres, the Japanese have sushi, and the Greeks call it oretika, or meze, the Chinese have Dim Sum……. the list goes on.

Whatever the styles, the common denominator is the wide variety of small, tasty finger food that will appear before you, ready to be savoured at a leisurely pace.

Always order a wide selection that include bites of salty, savoury, sweet, spicy, hot, cold, soft, crunchy. All this sums up the enjoyment of noshing…. it is not a meal on the run, rather an approach to eating that has become a way of life. Cosmopolitan would describe a “Nosher”.

Most live in an urban environment that would have a cross-section of ethnic restaurants, bistros, delicatessens and coffee house that engender schmoozing café society.

“The Greeks have been noshing for three thousand years” Vicki of Souvlaki Place says, “they have it down to a cultural art form”. Who would disagree with the veteran of noshing dishes….her grilled lamb souvlaki, grilled octopus, calamari, baked spanikopita, homous and pita, , olives, cheeses, Greek salad and finger-lickin’ baklava, form a feast of small bites to share over the strumming of the bouzouki.

Asian fusion has given rise to the menu that includes dim sum along with sushi. Larry Lim of the Blue Ginger says, “The Japanese have always had a noshing style; small, delicate, beautifully presented, to be eaten by the eyes first. This is intrinsic in the Japanese approach to food preparation”.

One of the most enduring images for a place to nosh is the French Bistro. It historically has the menu tailored for the café crowd.

Where else could you get escargot, pate’, onion soup, cheese boards, baked artichokes in butter, quiches, frogs legs, steak aux frites, baguettes, and lest we forget, French pastries.

The French culture has always been geared to the pleasures of food and wine…. In fact the Mediterranean cultures enjoy this joie de vivre. Perhaps it’s the clement weather, vineyards, or eating outdoors, but they have always encouraged eating in a casual intimate style, and this concept is becoming part of the North American tapestry.


January 2010
The Fine Art of Pushcart Cuisine

December 2009
After Holiday Feast

October 2009
Play Your Cards Right for this Game

September 2009
The Hills are Alive (With the Culinary Music of Chanterelles)

July 2009
Dressing for the Salad Set

June 2009
Curry Flavour

May 2009
Country Life
Shakespeare has an arrangement with the Devil
Dorothy Parker’s dream suitor
You might not lunch in this town again (or Eaten alive)

April 2009
Feng Shui in Cuisine

March 2009
Flying with the Flock

February 2009
The Wine and Roses of Valentine’s Day

January 2009
Should Auld Aquaintance Be Forgot?

December 2008
Christmas Testimonial

November 2008
For My Dough-la Boulange

October 2008
Deer Liver and Sybil Leeks

August 2008
Divine Intervention

July 2008
Multicultural Cuisine: West Coast Fish

June 2008
In Pursuit of a Lamb

May 2008
‘The Taming of the Shrew’, overtaken by cats, usurped by ‘To kill a mocking bird’

April 2008
The sudden demise, to the world’s surprise, of Jakob ‘Le Fromage’ Frimmel

February 2008
Life is the Pits

January 2008
Did You See That Escargot?

November 2007

September 2007
The Village Epicure

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