Putting together a five-course meal for Whistler Blackcomb's Winemaker Après series at Steeps Grill doesn't happen overnight.
There's the customary preparations involving tables, cutlery, ingredients and the rest, but to hear it from Steeps head chef D'Arcy Demoe, there's also a fair amount of research involved.
But at least it's enjoyable research.
"Basically you just taste the wines," Demoe said, ahead of the Feb. 24 Winemakers event.
"What I do is I research the wine, and then I just use all my years of experience, and go through some cookbooks and through articles I find and try to figure out what would work best, how it would be best executed in the environment that I'm in, and how I could showcase something that hopefully people haven't tried."
This month's Winemaker showcases selections from the Robert Mondavi Winery, based out of the Napa Valley wine country in California.
"What we're trying to do is basically a chef's tasting menu to go with the featured wines," Demoe said.
All told, the preparations take about two weeks, Demoe said.
With five courses to play around with there is ample room for experimentation, but the construction of the menu comes down to a simple formula — start light and work your way up.
Demoe hadn't finalized his menu when interviewed, but had a basic idea of what it might look like.
"I know I'm going to have a couple of fish courses and a couple of meat courses," he said.
"I just got my wine list finalized a couple of days ago, so now that I have that I can sit down and do the research."
With all of this research the whole process is starting to sound slightly academic.
"It is, actually. I just want to make sure I get it right," Demoe said.
"So for me, that means not having too many ingredients, but having enough elements that it's a surprise, and it all builds on each other."
Events like the Winemaker Series allow room for experimentation not only for Demoe, but also for the rest of his kitchen staff.
"I look at using the skill set of my guys to get them involved," he said.
"What I'm dong with this next one is I'm giving our in-house baker an opportunity to make a dessert... and then my sous chef, he is quite skilled, so I'll get him to do a couple courses.
"It's a bit of a break from the daily routine, and it's an opportunity to learn something new or showcase your ability."
And it also provides a chance to mix up some of the menu offerings as well.
"Last winter I did a Winemakers and I did boar belly instead of just regular pig, just to give it a different twist," Demoe said.
Having been involved with the Winemaker Après Series before, Demoe said it's the atmosphere that makes it a special event.
"You're on the top of a mountain enjoying wine and food, and you get good energy in the room. We set the tables up like a community setting, so everybody sits together.
"People go skiing for the day and then come in for two o'clock, so you have an epic day and the next thing you know you're sitting down enjoying really good food and good wine."
The next entry in the Winemakers Après Series is Tuesday, Feb. 24 at 2 p.m.
Tickets are $69 plus tax and gratuity, and can be purchased at www.whistlerblackcomb.com.
"If you want to have a good time, come up and join us," Demoe said.
"It's a bit of a family atmosphere... so just come up and enjoy the great experience on top of the mountain. There's not too many opportunities like that."
1 lb diced white onions
¼ lbs unsalted butter diced
1 can fire roasted tomatoes
1 tbsp roasted garlic
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp turmeric (ground)
1 tsp garam masala
25 ml peeled and finely chopped fresh ginger root
1 lb diced peeled Yukon potatoes
Place a medium-sized pot on the stove over medium heat. Add the butter and melt. When butter is melted add the diced onions, cook until transparent — be careful not to let onions burn. Add the dry spices and cook until paste forms. Add the fire roasted tomatoes and potatoes, cook until the acidity from the tomato is not present. Set aside
To finish the Hot pot you need
4 B.C. honey mussels
Ocean wise Louis lake steelhead – 3 ounces
Ocean wise Ling Cod – 3 ounces
Winterbor Kale picked and washed – 4 ounces
3 ounces – bacon crisped
¼ cup heavy cream
Roasted vegetables of your choice
Season the seafood with salt and pepper, set aside
Heat (2 tbsp) oil in a pan on medium high and when just starting to smoke place in the fish away from you as to not splash the oil towards you.
Add the mussels.
Add five fluid ounces of tikka sauce, ¼ cup heavy cream and cover with lid.
In two minutes take off cover add the crispy bacon pieces, kale and let cook for 30 seconds on low medium heat.
Add the roasted vegetables and then season with salt and pepper, and enjoy.
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