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New downtown Victoria restaurant to be featured on Food Network show


Dec. 15, 2010 at 6:15 a.m.
Updated Dec. 20, 2010 at 6:20 a.m.

A camera crew from Frantic Films production company follows Robert Briggs, owner of Huvar's Artisan Market. The Opener, hosted by celebrity chef David Adjey, will air in 2010 on the Food Network-Canada, showing the process of opening the restaurant in Victoria.

Walking into the soon-to-be-opened downtown restaurant, Huvar's Artisan Market, there is the typical chaotic hustle and bustle one would expect.

Owner Robert Briggs is back in the kitchen preparing food.

The staff is whizzing back and forth making last minute changes.

A steady stream of construction workers and vendors pop in and out the doors.

What one might not expect, however, is the camera crew that is there capturing it all on film.

For the past several days, the production company Frantic Films has followed Briggs on his journey of opening his first restaurant for the documentary series "The Opener," which will air on Food Network Canada sometime in 2011, story producer Vanessa Hill said. The show is hosted by celebrity chef David Adjey, who acts as a restaurant consultant and helps guide new restaurant owners from all over North America as they prepare to open their doors.

"David has had a lot of restaurants. He's had it all, and he's lost it all. So he guides them through avoiding the rookie mistakes that first-time owners encounter," Hill said. "When Robert applied to the show, we thought it was a great story."

One of the things that caught the production company's attention was Brigg's concept for the restaurant, which is an artisan market served family-style.

"They're using the best ingredients and making everything from scratch and out of love," Hill added. "And one of the big things they're doing is making sausage from the original recipe when this building used to be Huvar's Market. So they're tying in a lot of elements of local history and the idea of getting back to using real food."

As for Briggs, that concept is something he's passionate about, he said, adding that he wanted to apply the concept of artisan to everything from the renovations of the building, which was built in 1905, to the menu.

"I wanted an eclectic look in here - not too modern, a little bit old, a little bit new - and I think I've achieved that. As for the food, the whole idea is to use the freshest ingredients possible. Artisan to me is crafted by hand, with a lot of love put into. Everything will be made by hand, no processed foods and using local or regional producers," he said. "That's really why I'm doing this. I love to cook, love food, love creating new foods. It's a form of art for me, which is why I put artisan in the name."

Another thing that makes the restaurant stand out is the family-style aspect, he added. Patrons order their entrees, and then the table shares the sides, such as potatoes and vegetables. In addition, the menu will also always be changing, he said.

"I want to create a place where people feel at home here and can get great food and great service," Briggs said. "It's a style that creates family, sharing food just like you do at Mom's house. It's something new and different. I've seen a lot of restaurants fail in Victoria, but I think with our menu always changing, that will keep people coming back because they want to try something new."

As for having the film crew there, it's been a little hectic but overall, well worth it considering the advice Adjey has given him, Briggs said.

"The most important thing I learned from David was when he asked me where I going to be on opening night. I said 'Behind the stove, because that's what I love to do.' He said 'no.' So I said 'Be out greeting customers.' He said 'No, you'll be in the back, and you'll be watching what food goes into the trash can.'"

Huvar's Artisan Market will officially open to the public on Friday.



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