Chef Kayla Dhaliwall has been wearing her white coat and wielding a kitchen knife for the last 13 years, working in everything from fine dining and catering to cheffing for a TV show and competing as a contestant on Top Chef Canada. Today, she calls the kitchen of The Joseph Richard Group (JRG) home as the corporate development chef, the hospitality group touting 25 establishments from public houses to liquor stores in BC and Alberta.

“I was being recruited from some large restaurant groups and hotels, but none of them felt like a perfect match,” Dhaliwall says of her journey to JRG. “The day prior to accepting a job with one of the other groups, I reached out to JRG CEO Ryan Moreno [and] told him I wanted to work for him and The Joseph Richard Group… A week later I was suited up in my whites, assigned with menu development for Meal Ticket Brands and haven’t looked back for the last six months.”

One of her favorite summertime creations is her classic Dungeness crab dip, an ode to the seafood delight. “I love [the crab’s] light, creamy texture, it tastes just like the saltwater ocean,” she adds. “It feels very high end and it eats very well chilled or hot. Hands down we are so lucky to have the world’s best crab here in BC and the Pacific Northwest.”C

Dhaliwall puts her spin on the dish by adding roasted poblano peppers to add a smoky, yet mild heat to the dish as well as a kick of citrus. “The lemon juice makes everything bright and keeps you coming back for more because it would otherwise be a very rich dish with all the cheese,” she says.

As for the wine pairing? Chef Dhaliwall stays local with the Madeleine Angevine from Glass House Estate Winery. “A perfect complement to seafood flavor,” the chef says. “It has very crisp acidity with just a touch of sweetness on the palate with hints of stone fruit peach and apricot floral, citrus and honeysuckle.”

We’ll have what she’s having.

Dungeness Crab Dip

Serves 4-6

1 ½ cups cream cheese, left at room temperature until soft
½ cup mascarpone, left at room temperature until soft
½ cup mayonnaise
½ cup shredded cheddar or gruyere cheese
½ cup grated parmesan
2 scallions, finely sliced
1 poblano or jalapeno pepper, roasted, peeled, seeded and ¼ inch-diced
Juice of ½ lemon
1 ½ tablespoons Kosher salt
½ tablespoon Tabasco
½ teaspoon Worcestershire
1 pound crab meat, cooked and chilled Dungeness or Rock crab
1/4 cup heavy cream
½ cup semi-hard cheese blend
1 cup panko, toasted until golden brown in 2 tablespoons butter
1 lemon, halved, roasted or grilled

Using a standing mixer and the paddle attachment, work the cream cheese and mascarpone on medium-speed for 3 to 5 minutes. You are looking to have a completely smooth base. Wipe down the sides of bowl.

Add the mayonnaise and the cheeses. Mix for 40 seconds on low. Add the scallions, peppers, lemon juice, salt, tabasco and Worcestershire for an additional 30 seconds on low. Remove the bowl from the mixer and wipe down the paddle. Gently fold the crab meat into mixture until well incorporated. Place mixture into an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to heat and serve.

To serve, place the crab dip in a saucepan with the heavy cream on the stove over medium heat. Slowly warm the dip while stirring constantly to avoid splitting or drying, about 5 minutes. Once the dip is warm, pour it into a shallow casserole dish and cover with the cheese blend, top with panko and bake at a 400° F for 12-15 minutes.

Once the dip is hot and bubbling, remove from the oven and serve immediately with grilled bread and grilled lemons for finishing.

Need more crab? Click here for another classic summertime recipe.