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Chef's Choice: Melissa Craig of the Bearfoot Bistro

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.

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.

"And then the next day is the oyster competition," notes Craig.

She further explains that Outstanding In The Field is a travelling event that was last here a few years ago. Araxi was involved in the last one, she says.

"They go to different cities and do the same sort of thing," says Craig. "People are supposed to bring their own plates, it is very green, very hippy, I guess."

She notes that the main thing Outstanding In The Field emphasizes through the meals served at each event is the food available in the area and the respect the people of the area should have for those food items. The beverages included in the dinner will also be from close by. Craig says the wine to be served will be from the Okanagan.

Dominic Fortin is responsible for preparing the breads and the desserts. Craig says she's doing three items for after the dinner.

According to the Outstanding In The Field website, there will be a 30 to 45 minute tour of the farm before dinner. Once the tour is completed the guests will be seated at a long table to enjoy the evening of wine and food.

Reservations for the event are made at the Outstanding In The Field website. Ticket prices start at $180 and they can be purchased from the site once a reservation is made. The web address is

Spring salad

White balsamic vinaigrette

  • 50 ml chopped French shallots
  • 75 ml honey
  • 250 ml White balsamic vinegar
  • 500 ml canola oil
  • 100 ml grape seed oil
  • Salt and pepper


  • 6 beets, mixed variety
  • 1L apple juice
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • Water to cover

Place washed beets in pot and cover with juice, sugar, vinegar and water. Simmer over medium heat for 45 min to 1 hour, until soft. Peel with a towel when still warm and set aside.

Roasted Pemberton carrots

  • 10 baby carrots
  • 100 ml white balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and pepper

Peel the carrots. In a warm pan, slowly start cooking the carrots. Deglaze with 100 ml of white balsamic vinegar, and continue cooking at a low heat. When the pan is dry, continue roasting until there is a light coloration of the carrots. Set aside.

Chervil yogurt

  • 500 ml thick Greek style yogurt
  • 0.5 lbs fresh chervil
  • 1 lemon
  • I tbsp honey
  • Salt and pepper
    • Finely chop the chervil and mix it in with the yogurt. Add the juice from one lemon, the zest and the honey. Season to taste.

      Beet slices

      Using a mandolin, slice the beet on its width. With a ring mould, cut out the desired size. Reserve in the fridge in cold water.

      Beet soil

      Pass four large purple beets through the juicer. Reserve the pulp, and keep the juice for another application. Place the pulp on a sheet pan, and dehydrate in the oven at 150F overnight. In a blender or thermo mix, blitz the dried pulp until it becomes a fine powder.