Whistler's farmers' market is a very busy place on a sunny Sunday.
This year, around 50 stalls are there on a weekly basis. Displays by artists and artisans in the Upper Village are, of course, in addition to food and drink offerings from regional farmers and food product makers.
Many of these suppliers regularly sell to the resort's restaurants and at this time of year the market is showing off mid-summer vegetables, herbs, spices, fruit and baked goods.
Located nearby, Sidecut Restaurant at the Four Seasons Resort has turned this shopping opportunity into a culinary one with its Après Market Sundays Experience.
Après Market is a Sunday luncheon made from products purchased earlier the same day by Sidecut's executive chef Eren Guryel, cooked up and served either inside or in the restaurant's expansive patio courtyard. Music plays; the atmosphere is relaxed and casual.
The name Après Market Sundays Experience comes from the notion of Après Ski — after the market comes the reward.
And as a bonus, diners also have the option of accompanying Guryel as he walks through the market, selecting the day's menu for the restaurant an hour or so before lunch is served.
The experience has a European feel, watching the chef in his whites trundling among the radishes, breads and squashes, but the culinary opportunities are definitely Canadian.
The concept was Guryel's — he started it earlier this summer.
"We were thinking about how we could better activate the courtyard into something a bit more special — the conversation turned to Sunday Brunch," he says.
"I saw that we have a beautiful farmers' market every Sunday and if we could create the same kind of atmosphere as the market, where there's musicians, food, kids running around, I wanted to create that in our courtyard."
Guryel previously worked at the Green City Market for five years, Chicago's largest farmers' market, and decided that instead of offering a stall of prepared food in Whistler's market, the market could be used in the hotel's kitchen.
"The original idea was to go to the vendors, let them know I am relatively new to town and get ingredients, find out if they have items that might have been damaged in the transport that we could purchase from them," he says.
"At the B.C. Berry tent they have an area called The Jammers, where people in the industry shop at a discount because the produce is damaged or squished. Or somewhere else we get some onions that may be damaged, but are still wholesome. They're delicious, just not that pretty.
"If we're going to chop it up and put it into a crepe, we can help the farmers out and it's a good story tell."
It helps that the selection of produce is fantastic.
"I'd like to see if there are any dairy farmers who would like to do something in the market. It would be interesting to see some local cheesemongers or vendors selling goat yogurt. There are some meat vendors, I believe," he adds.
"I was there shopping for apricots and plums and a lady behind the counter said, 'Chef! I've got three cases of yellow beans behind he counter. They're fantastic and I'll give them to you for a great price!' And I said, 'Done!' And we made a nice yellow bean salad."
Guryel — who grew up in Vermont and has worked for the Four Seasons in New York, Chicago, Boston, Tokyo, Shanghai and Hawaii — has been in Whistler for the past year.
"In the employee entrance in my first hotel in New York there was a picture of every single Four Seasons in the world at the time," he says.
"For someone like me, coming from a small town... looking at the Four Seasons in Taipei, it was like 'Wow!' It seemed pretty exotic... I wanted to travel and do it as a chef.
"It's a lot of fun."
When it comes to his cooking, Guryel says he likes to keep the flavours simple — on the menu last week was a stone fruit crepe with ricotta and spearmint, ripe berry and chocolate crepes, and grilled petit pan squashes and zucchinis being combined with goat cheese and pesto and placed between slices of brioche for a delectable sandwich.
When we went to the market with Guryel last Sunday, we were also accompanied by assistant director of food and beverage Nathan Ayres, bartender Frederique Leblanc and Ghassan Noursi, assistant food and beverage manager.
Leblanc was also on the lookout for fresh produce to use in her cocktails — a special chardonnay sangria was on offer, as was a fruity whisky sour.
The menus change according to what is available.
Guryel adds that diners can also order off the regular menu — the steaks for which Sidecut is famous are most definitely available, as are the usual lunch and drink options.
The Après Market will run until the Whistler Farmers' Market is finished for the season, which Guryel says ends in September.
For more information, visit www.sidecutwhistler.com.
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