Brad Lazarenko, Culina Family of Restaurants

In the late nineteenth century, French novelist Marcel Proust participated in an exercise which could be thought of as the Facebook of its era — he answered a questionnaire about his personality in a friend’s Confession Album.

Proust’s answers have been published, in one form or fashion, for more than a century. Several have used the questionnaire for their own devices, the most notable being Vanity Fair Magazine’s Proust Questionnaire featuring celebrities. City Palate now gives it a culinary twist.

Meet Brad Lazarenko of the culina family: culina Highlands, culina Mill Creek, Passa Tempo and the Bibo wine bars in Osoyoos and Nelson.



Years cooking?


Where would you like to live?

I haven’t been around to that many places. Ask me again in five years.

Your favourite food and drink?

Asian food, any kind: Thai, Vietnamese, Cantonese — maybe because it’s something I don’t cook.
Red wine, any kind.

What would you be doing if you weren’t cooking?

Graphic design — something creative.

What do you most appreciate in your friends?

They give me bottles of wine.

Your favourite qualities in a dish?

It’s got to be balanced in flavour.

A cook?

They have to be passionate; I can teach (or they can learn) the rest.

A wine?


Who would be at your dream dinner table (dead or alive)?

Buzz Fuller and his sons, Gordon Ramsay. Guys like that know the business of restaurants and that’s what I’m trying to learn.

Who would cook?

Me, and it would be roast chicken. Good comfort food.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

Mmmhhmmmmmm; usually in disapproval or disbelief.

Current culinary obsession/exploration?

Right now, probably because I’ve been working with my sister Cindy at culina Highlands: Ukrainian food. It’s funny, I do ethnic food and I haven’t done anything Ukrainian until now. We’ll incorporate some things on the menu at Mill Creek.

Meaningful/crazy cooking experience?

I’ve had a lot of great dinner parties. I realize now that’s where I started formulating ideas for the restaurants. Doing breakfast — cooking eggs is an art.

Best (cooking) thing that ever happened to you?

Going to New York, eating in restaurants there; also Montreal, Vancouver. Bin 941 really blew my mind when if first opened. That style of restaurant was in my mind and I thought, “It can exist.”


Claudio Romano of Mama Rosa’s in Richmond; he taught me how to season and how to cook without a recipe. It was the first time I had carpaccio. It was the first time I had a medium rare steak. Peter Johner from Pack Rat — he encouraged creativity.

Favourite casual cheap and cheerful/after work food?

Café Select for oysters royale.


Cook what you like to eat.

What’s next?

We’re starting cooking classes on the second floor of culina Mill Creek in the fall. More catering. I want to do a diner — I love good diner food.