98 episodes

Jamie Mah is a writer, bartender and sommelier in beautiful Vancouver B.C. Join him as he takes comprehensive deep dives into everything food and culture in the city and around the globe.

Track & Food Podcast Jamie Mah

    • Arts

Jamie Mah is a writer, bartender and sommelier in beautiful Vancouver B.C. Join him as he takes comprehensive deep dives into everything food and culture in the city and around the globe.

    Demythologizing Poverty with Local Expert, Tracy Smith-Carrier

    Demythologizing Poverty with Local Expert, Tracy Smith-Carrier

    Will poverty always be a systemic issue? This is the question at the heart of Tracy Smith-Carrier’s article, “Implementing a basic income means overcoming myths about the ‘undeserving poor’”, published in The Conversation last December – and the focus of today’s interview with its author.

    Smith-Carrier has studied poverty for over 25 years, and is currently an Associate Professor and Canada Research Chair, with a focus on Advancing the UN Sustainable Development Goals, at Royal Roads University in Victoria, BC. As such, she brings a candid and humanistic lens to an issue affecting so many in our society, by breaking down the myths hindering our progress towards the elimination of poverty and (hopefully) helping us to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the issue from a macro level.



    If you have questions, observations, or ideas for future episodes, email at trackandfoodpod@gmail.com

    • 50 min
    An Inside Look at the Controversial Mount Pleasant BIA Expansion

    An Inside Look at the Controversial Mount Pleasant BIA Expansion

    Back in the fall, I received some good intel, via text, about a peculiar issue brewing up along Main Street, regarding the Mount Pleasant Business Improvement Association(BIA). The problem was a proposed expansion of where the BIA lines fell, with the Main and 19-29th Street areas considered a new addition. The text suggested a lot of pushback from business owners in this proposed expansion area who did not want a BIA.
    Fast forward to moments after recording my last episode when guest, Shira Blustein (owner of The Acorn and The Arbor), pulled me aside to let me know that the BIA story was still on the table, and that a vote with the Mount Pleasant board members to decide the fate of the expansion would be happening on February 27th. If I wanted to cover this story, now was the time.
    Vancouver has 22 Business Improvement Associations – nonprofits funded by their jurisdiction through tax dollars collected by the City. Their roles within their respective communities vary, with some being more prominent than others (for example, Gastown has a potent BIA). The Mount Pleasant BIA expansion is unique, as most business owners in this area are small operators with prolonged exposure to the area.
    In this episode, we hear from Mount Pleasant BIA Executive Director, Neil Wyles, on why he’s pushed so hard for this expansion and what that process has entailed so far, as well as from those in opposition, including business owners Erin Boniferro (Collage Collage), Kildare Curtis (Eugene Choo), and the aforementioned Blustein. A small, dynamic interview with David Duprey – board member of the Mount Pleasant BIA and owner of The Narrow Group (Uncle Abe’s, The Narrow, Slim’s BBQ, Key Party) – has also been added.

    • 1 hr 10 min
    Is the BC Restaurant Industry in a Crisis?

    Is the BC Restaurant Industry in a Crisis?

    Whether at work or with friends, one of the more common questions posed to me is: “Where do you recommend going for dinner?” In a city as varied and culturally diverse as Vancouver, options for delicious fare seem endless. But despite the abundance of intrigue and hard-to-book tables, the local sector is in peril (much like the beer industry featured in my previous episode). This is largely (still) owing to the hard-hitting pandemic, which left thousands of small businesses scrambling nationwide. In today’s episode, we hone in on the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA), a $60,000 government assistance loan with a string attached: $20,000 in forgiveness if paid back by a specific date. That date passed in 2022 and was extended once more to January 18th, 2024. More than 885,000 small businesses and not-for-profits took out CEBA loans, totalling more than $48 billion.

    According to a Restaurants Canada report from late October 2023, the Canadian food service industry was on track to reach a remarkable milestone, with a value of $110 billion in 2023. It is Canada’s fourth largest private employer, serving 22 million people per day – yet over 50 percent of restaurants and food service businesses are either operating at a loss or barely breaking even.

    To better understand what is happening on the ground here in Vancouver, I’ve rounded up a few friends who also work in the industry: Shira Blustein (owner of Acorn and The Arbor), Shaun Layton (co-owner of ¿CóMO? Tapería), and James Iranzad (co-founder and operator of Gooseneck Hospitality, and a fixture on this podcast). We debate where restaurants are headed in 2024 and what can be done to help an industry on the brink.

    Businesses need to pay CEBA loans or lose free money — because the deadline isn't changing - CBC

    Restaurants Canada Supports Growth and Stability of the Canadian Foodservice Industry - Restaurants Canada

    New pilot project supports restaurant industry’s workforce development - B.C. Government


    If you have questions, observations, or ideas for future episodes, email at trackandfoodpod@gmail.com

    • 59 min
    What's Going on with the BC Craft Beer Industry?

    What's Going on with the BC Craft Beer Industry?

    If you had asked me what I thought ‘craft beer’ was when I first moved to Vancouver, back in 2009, my answer would have been something vague about its ‘higher quality’. Fast forward to today, and layers of experiences, flavours and perspectives add nuance and understanding to what the beer sector signifies.

    Market capitalization and interest usually peak when something new captures the scene, with entrepreneurs racing to make their mark and carve out their niches. In BC, R&B, Storm, Red Truck, Phillips, and Driftwood are a handful of the early success stories; then came 33 Acres, Strange Fellows, Parkside, and Brassneck (to name a few), who shepherded an exciting crew of businesses with exceptional beers and inviting tasting rooms. The people came, and a new way of socializing formed: fewer corner pubs and more family affairs. Kids and dogs littered patios as parents sipped on unique IPA styles.

    Soon, there were upwards of over 200 craft breweries in the province. Craft beer seemed here to stay… Then came a pandemic, rising interest rates, changing consumer habits, and the rise of non-alcoholics and RTDs – each a new challenge for breweries. As of late 2023, the news wasn’t good: some are closing, and others may follow suit; reports from the CBC and Global News paint a possible stark environment for 2024.

    To gain a better comprehension of the situation from the inside, I’ve rounded up three friends and prominent brewery owners – Sam Payne (co-owner and operator of Parkside and Rewind ), Nick Black (co-owner and operator of Strange Fellows), and Adam Henderson (owner of Superflux) – to share their knowledge and personal narratives, and discuss the state of the craft brewery market today, how they see it evolving, and the challenges ahead…

    Trouble brewing? Canadian beermakers foresee closures amid economic challenges - CBC

    Beer industry says looming tax increase latest blow to tapped out sector - CBC

    COVID loan repayments a brewing crisis for B.C. craft beer sector, industry warns - Global News

    A Missed Opportunity— Did The Craft Beer Industry Lose Their One Chance To Grow Their Market Share? - Track and Food



    If you have questions, observations, or ideas for future episodes, email at trackandfoodpod@gmail.com

    • 1 hr 11 min
    Predicting the Michelin Stars with James Iranzad, James Langford-Smith and Heidi Noble

    Predicting the Michelin Stars with James Iranzad, James Langford-Smith and Heidi Noble

    In this newest edition of the triple(J) - H series, prominent former winemaker Heidi Noble joins alongside James Iranzad (Gooseneck Hospitality) and James Langford-Smith (Pamplemousse Jus) to help predict who will win, keep, and possibly move up in year two of Vancouver's Michelin guide. Enjoy!

    This year's announcement is on October 5th. 

    • 1 hr 34 min
    Ending Homelessness Through Direct Cash Transfers with UBC Professor Dr. Jiaying Zhao

    Ending Homelessness Through Direct Cash Transfers with UBC Professor Dr. Jiaying Zhao

    In 2018, Vancouver non-profit Foundations for Social Change, along with researchers from UBC, set out to do a small experiment: a one-year trial where they gave a lump sum of $7,500 cash, no strings attached, directly to people experiencing homelessness to see whether the direct cash method would provide them with a leg up finding stable housing, or if they would instead spend it on temptation goods (drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, etc.). Several local shelters were enlisted to help them find suitable candidates for their study, which was led by Dr. Jiaying Zhao (PhD, Associate Professor, Canada Research Chair, UBC). The results – published only a few weeks ago – shed light on how the homeless actually spend their money while also providing clues for what they need to succeed moving forward.
    For further reading on this study, check out the links below...

    A B.C. research project gave homeless people $7,500 each — the results were 'beautifully surprising' - CBC

    A Canadian study gave $7,500 to homeless people. Here’s how they spent it. - Vox

    A Study Showed Giving Money to Homeless People Changes Lives. What’s Next? - The Tyee

    • 26 min

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