Chef's Choice: Melissa Craig of the Bearfoot Bistro 

click to flip through (2) PHOTO COURTESY OF BEARFOOT BISTRO BY JOERN ROHDE - SPRING SALAD Bearfoot Bistro executive chef Melissa Craig will serve a root-based salad at Outstanding In The Field because she says we’ve only had two days of summer and local tomatoes aren’t ready yet for harvesting.
  • Photo courtesy of Bearfoot Bistro by Joern Rohde
  • SPRING SALAD Bearfoot Bistro executive chef Melissa Craig will serve a root-based salad at Outstanding In The Field because she says we’ve only had two days of summer and local tomatoes aren’t ready yet for harvesting.
 
 

It is hardly fair that executive chef Melissa Craig has to come into work early to do an interview after arriving back home just a few hours earlier following a three week trip to Spain.

Her husband, André Saint Jacques of the Bearfoot Bistro, pulls out a comfortable chair for her and she oozes into it with that look one projects when one is trying to appear fully awake just moments after waking.

"Would you like anything?" asks the bistro's public relations manager, clearly recognizing that Craig has had a long few days of international travel.

"It's OK," she says turning to Saint Jacques. "André will get me a coffee."

Off goes Saint Jacques, returning much later with a cup of coffee as preparations for opening the restaurant for the day are taking place.

And so the scene is now set for Craig to talk about her next big event. On July 14 she will be working with the American pop-up supper series known as Outstanding In The Field.

While much of Craig's preparation work will take place in the Bearfoot Bistro kitchen, the event is scheduled for North Arm Farm in Pemberton.

One of the highlights of the menu will be a beet and carrot salad. Her salad of choice would have included tomatoes — but she's highlighting locally grown ingredients.

"It's hard this time of year because it isn't summer yet," says the chef now wide awake with renewed energy, as food becomes the main topic of the conversation. "I would love to serve tomatoes and gazpacho. But we've had two days of summer, so it's going to be beets, it's going to be carrots, it's going to be all the root vegetables still."

Somewhere in the order of 175 people will be hosted by Jordan and Trudy Sturdy at North Arm Farm to enjoy a seafood course after the salad, then Pemberton Beef for the third course and fresh produce throughout the meal from North Arm Farm, Across the Creek Organics and other farms in the Pemberton valley.

"The whole idea of it is farm-to-table and using local suppliers featuring what we have to show off to tourists and what locals don't know and what they should know," says Craig.

She will have a few charcoal grills to prepare the meat under a tent with help from eight members of her kitchen staff. Four servers will also make the trip to North Arm Farm to transition the food from the back of the operation to the tables.

Just to make things a little more interesting for Craig, a wedding reception will take place at the Bearfoot Bistro the same day. While she is in Pemberton, a group of 80 people will be celebrating at the restaurant in the care of the rest of the Bearfoot Bistro staff.

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