It is with deep regret that I must pen this addition to this week’s column, advising of the untimely passing of talented chef and beacon of the local dining community, Mr. Jeff Batt.
Chef Batt was the self-styled Portly Chef, and through his eponymous restaurant at Lonsdale and 12th Street, he brightened the days of countless patrons with a commitment to 100 per cent homemade, carefully executed North Shore comfort food prepared with a downtown flare.
The Portly Chef is a local stalwart of elevated dining without pretence, turning out dishes clearly steeped in the classic tradition, but with an unfussy approachability that satisfied seasoned palates while exposing novice diners to new experiences.
Chef Batt, a veteran of the long, thankless hours of the hotel dining machine, recognized that in order to remain happy while spending so much time toiling in a kitchen, you ought to be surrounded by people that mean something to you.
And so it is that Chef is survived by a kitchen and front-of-house team that had become family. Restaurant GM Emily Caulfield, Chef Batt’s wife and partner, explained to me that the restaurant will continue to operate, honouring the legacy of its founder through seasonal, well-crafted menus and an inviting energy. The kitchen team members, some of whom worked with Chef Batt for longer than even Caulfield knew him, are deeply versed in the techniques and culinary vision of their mentor and consider it a given that he should be honoured through the continued operation of The Portly Chef.
While I most certainly wish that moving forward I could offer updates on The Portly Chef that would include Jeff Batt himself, it nevertheless gives me some solemn satisfaction to think that there is a team of people keen to keep his legacy alive for fans of his work, both current and future.