Chef's Choice: Erin Stone 

click to enlarge PHOTO SUBMITTED - chef Erin Stone As head chef of Stonesedge Kitchen creativity is part of the new menu.
  • Photo submitted
  • chef Erin Stone As head chef of Stonesedge Kitchen creativity is part of the new menu.

Chef Erin Stone's stamp is all over one of Whistler's newest gastropubs.

The Stone in "Stonesedge" is a nod to the chef as well as more practical inspirations too; the building façade is stone and it's located on the edge of the village.

Stone's mark, however, isn't just in the name.

It's all over the menu, which she designed from the ground up.

That's what made the move to Stonesedge too tempting for Stone to refuse after seven years at Elements, the popular tapas bar.

"It was hard to say no," she admitted. "Just knowing that the menu was 100 per cent mine."

For a chef, freedom to create like that doesn't come around every day.

And while the vision for Stonesedge was fulfilling pub food, Stone has taken it to that next level.

At the heart of her Stonesedge creations are those comfort foods... with Stone's twist.

"It's not just going to be a burger or meatloaf," said the chef.

For example, the shepherd's pie isn't a typical shepherd's pie. It's made with "fragrant spiced roast duck and layered with sautéed kale (see accompanying recipe).

You don't just get a burrito at the Stonesedge, rather a quinoa burrito bowl.

The Stonesedge pancakes have two kinds of toppings — sweet and savoury. The sweet comes with coffee infused maple syrup for an extra kick; the savoury comes with sour cream, bacon lardons and green onions.

The Two Rivers meatloaf includes two individual loafs of grass-fed B.C. beef, baked with house made Ancho BBQ sauce and topped with crispy Two Rivers salami — Two Rivers is a meat supplier based out of North Vancouver providing meats free of antibiotics, hormones and chemical feed additives.

And for dessert is not just a regular campfire s'more on the menu but a S'mores Parfait — layers of graham crackers, dark chocolate sauce, white chocolate mousse and toasted homemade marshmallows.

"We're trying to find new trends," she said.

In short, there's a little something for everyone, a little something to tease any palate with vegetarian, gluten-friendly and vegan options.

And a promise at the bottom of the menu: "What goes into your body here is all comfort and no guilt."

Stonesedge opened on Canada Day in 2014, the brainchild of husband-and-wife team April Solonyka and Jim Button. Last year they approached the longtime owners of Kypriaki with an offer to purchase their longstanding Whistler establishment.

The spot has always been tucked away, on the edge of village activity, close to the conference centre.

Word of mouth and social media have played a role in getting the word out about this new Whistler eatery.

Locals, always keen to support a homegrown success story, flocked to Stonesedge in the beginning and business was brisk in the summer, helped along by the patio.

It hasn't let up this winter.

Last Saturday night was probably the busiest yet, said the chef.

Stone, however, is used to busy in Whistler. In 2012 she was appointed executive chef at Elements and the Wildwood.

This is her ninth season here. Originally from New Zealand, Stone grew up on a farm in her hometown of Wanganui where her family raised chickens and lambs.

She got her Canadian citizenship last year. And while there is a hankering to return to New Zealand at some point, it's not in the cards soon, if ever.

Her focus now is in seeing Stonesedge make a name for itself in Whistler.

The gastropub is open throughout the week from 10 a.m. to 1 a.m. On the weekends breakfast begins at 8 a.m. with a Saturday closing time of 1 a.m. and midnight on Sunday.

Crispy Duck Shepherd's Pie

DUCK RUB

4 Tbsp ground nutmeg                                             

1 cup star anise

¼ cup black peppercorns                                             

4 Tbsp ground cloves

Toast star anise and peppercorns and blend until finely ground. Place in a bowl and mix in the ground cloves and nutmeg.

ROAST DUCK

2 whole ducks (roughly 2kg)                                         

olive oil

Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a tray, rub the duck all over with oil, kosher salt and duck rub. Roast for two hours, or until golden and crisp, draining off the fat into a jar. Leave to cool, remove all the skin and fat from the duck and set aside to make the toasted breadcrumbs, also known as pangritatta — then strip all the meat off the bone.

DUCK RAGOUT

4 cloves of garlic

handful thyme

800 grams kale                                                                           

1 onion                                                               

2 carrots                                                                              

2 sticks of celery                                              

2 cups red wine                                                              

1 tin of tomatoes                                            

2 bay leaves                                                                      

2 Tbsp duck rub

Finely slice garlic, then put into a large non-stick pan on a high heat with a little duck fat and diced onion, carrots, celery and thyme.

Fry for around 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are starting to caramelize, stirring regularly. Pour in the wine, turn up the heat and reduce. Add the tomatoes, along with one tin's worth of water, the bay leaves and cloves. Give it a good stir, simmer for around one hour, then season.

Remove bay leaves and stir in lentils and shredded duck.

In a dish fill it 2/3 full with the duck ragout. Top with sautéed kale. Refrigerate until needed.

To serve, place in a 400 F oven for 20 minutes to heat all the way through. Top with mashed potato and sprinkle the top with the pangritatta.

DUCK pangritatta

200 grams stale bread                                            

skin from roasting duck

2 sprigs rosemary

Add the bread and rosemary leaves to a food processor with the duck skin and fat and pulse into fine crumbs. Fry in a large non-stick frying pan with some duck fat until golden and crisp. Top shepherd's pie with it.

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