When Marlin Wolfe was growing up, he and his sisters would compete to see who could cook the best family dinner.
“I started at an early age,” he said. “Basically I liked cooking right from the age of 12 on and I got involved in it. I had two sisters and once we hit 12 we had to do one meal every night per week so we always challenged each other.”
Wolfe, who from 1995 to 2008 served as the Vancouver Island Symphony’s founding artistic director and conductor, said both his parents were working in order to be able to afford music lessons on top of the everyday necessities. Wolfe and his sisters did their part in the kitchen.
“We really got right into it,” Wolfe said. “We’d do a normal meal, a roast of some kind, or schnitzel, we learned how to make that right away.”
Wolfe kept up his cooking over the years, noting that he’s gone through upwards of 200 cookbooks in his life. He’s since compiled 142 recipes he’s accumulated over the decades, including some of his own concoctions, in his own cookbook, The Maestro’s Favourites: A Symphony of Taste.
The items range from appetizers to main courses to desserts. Wolfe is particularly fond of the “style” of French cuisine, and French dishes appear in the book as well.
Wolfe even found a way to incorporate his cooking into his professional career as an orchestra violinist and conductor. Wolfe used to cook five-course gourmet dinners for symphony fundraisers. He said he prepared more than 14 dinners during his time with the Vancouver Island Symphony.
Wolfe said food and music share a connection. He said a lot of symphonic musicians enjoy a good meal.
“Most musicians, they don’t really eat too much before a concert because it bogs them down and they have to concentrate so they eat after. And all my life I did that, too … and especially when you’re travelling,” Wolfe said. “So the relationship of being a conductor and conducting good orchestras and food I think go hand-in-hand.”