In addition to being one of the Pacific Northwest's most well-known equipment purveyors for culinary artists, boasting a retail space that brims with a seemingly endless variety of pots, pans, and paring knives, Cookshop also recruits 100 of the region's top chefs and wine experts to serve on the Cookschool faculty. The school curriculum encompasses a variety of global cuisines—including Thai, Italian, and Indian—and demonstrates the finer points of dessert with classes such as Wilton cake decorating and Chef Survival 101: Self-Defense with a Melon Baller.
Tantra Fitness's owner Tammy Morris, a professional pole dancer, helms a staff comprised of circus aerialists, choreographers, and fitness specialists to help women tone their bodies through alternative fitness regimens. Coaches lead an array of sensual fitness classes designed around their fun factor, value as body-weight-resistance exercises, and usefulness in mocking inflexible scarecrows. Topics include pole dancing, chair-based workouts, and dance routines ranging from ballet to hip hop as well as acro-stretch classes that challenge muscles to bend through exercises inspired by Chinese circus performers. Parties and private lessons bring small groups of students together to learn pole or lap-dance routines, or hone their professional jewel-theft techniques in a flexibility-enhancing exercise of their choice.
At Vancouver Acting School, experienced coaches impart the skills necessary for a marketable career in the world of film and television. Training within the rooms of a working casting studio, proteges practice in a small black-box-style theatre and rooms outfitted with cameras, gaining the courage to recite monologues in front of Stanley Park's discriminating squirrels. Part- or full-time classes teach audition, voice, and improvisation skills as students learn to transform imagination into an outline for success.
A companion studio, the Vancouver Young Actors School, teaches younger artists the same classic and contemporary techniques, building both their self-confidence and a solid artistic foundation for future work. In the past, the school's training has led students to land appearances on Nickelodeon, Syfy, and the Family Channel.
While hiking the craggy island shores of Kythera, Gloria and Scott Latham spotted something strange and wonderful: a bright yellow flower sprouting from the rocks. Known as a semperviva, this plant symbolizes abundant life, a symbol they'd sought for quite some time. When the couple returned to Vancouver and founded a yoga studio, the flower sprang to mind immediately. "The concrete structures of the city, the buildings, the sidewalks, and the roads were the equivalent of the craggy rocks of Kythera," Gloria says. "Our clients and friends are that bright yellow flower, the souls that are brilliant and thriving despite the hardships that life presents."
Today, Semperviva Yoga tempers the city's hustle and bustle with joy and peace. Inside its four local studios, friendships bloom among mats, blocks, and bolsters, which students may borrow for free. Here, seasoned instructors demonstrate yoga's power to cultivate flexibility and focus. Classical Hatha sessions offer plenty of cues to help students tailor the poses to their goals and limitations. Deep breaths and stretches fuel Vinyasa Power Flow routines, which build more strength and grace than a swan bench-pressing a ballerina. Several Semperviva studios feature boutiques, which foster healthy lifestyles with organic essential oils, biodynamic skincare products, and yoga-themed books.
At Asheida Music Company, an experience pianist and certified vocal instructor through the Institute for Vocal Advancement helps aspiring singers find their own style and hone their voices with one-on-one singing lessons. In addition to her on-location lessons, she teaches far-flung students via Skype.
The name of the game at Harkness & Co. Butchers is ethics: all of the meat it sells comes from local producers who follow humane and ethical farming practices. The staff receives organic meats and breaks down the entire animal in-house, ensuring that each cut is precise and that customers can find any piece of the animal, whether it's beef, pork, or poultry. Shoppers can pick up local free-range, nonmedicated beef, which gets dry-aged for at least 28 days to develop a rich, tender flavour profile. Prepared products include housemade sausages—available in classic Italian-style and chorizo varieties—as well as seasonal-spiced links and weekly specials. For those looking to cook with more exotic options, such as bison, goat, and unicorn, Harkness & Co. can order most meats to the store. Additionally, butchers lead classes in a stone-floored training annex on topics that include pasta making, butchery, and wine tasting.