Chef's Choice: Eating local at the Pemberton Music Festival 

click to enlarge PHOTO BY BRADEN DUPUIS - EATING LOCAL Festival goers line up near some local vendors at the Pemberton Music Festival.
  • Photo by Braden Dupuis
  • EATING LOCAL Festival goers line up near some local vendors at the Pemberton Music Festival.

Feeding thousands of hungry music fans is no easy task.

It's a reality that New Orleans-based Huka Entertainment — the organizers behind last weekend's Pemberton Music Festival — are well aware of, which is why the festival grounds just west of Pemberton were lined with food vendors from across the West Coast.

From tacos to chicken wings, perogies to poutine, there was no shortage of choices for the hungry, sweaty masses as they emerged from moshpits and dance floors.

But for those looking for more of a local cuisine, the festival had them covered there too.

"It's going really well," said Mark Mendonca of Grimm's Gourmet and Deli, on Saturday.

"The crowd's been great (and) we've been having a good time at it.

The foray into the world of festival food is a first for Grimm's, whose homebase is located on Frontier Street in Pemberton.

Setting up to serve at the Pemberton Music Festival meant a healthy investment from the local deli.

"The challenge is that we've brought a full-on kitchen out here," Mendonca said.

Festivalgoers were flocking for Grimm's jerk chicken, vegetarian curry and bannock tacos, Mendonca said, "and of course, the early morning allows for the breakfast buns and the French toast, so a good variety we've got."

Just a couple of booths over was the Birken Lakeside Grille tent, manned by Maxim Ridorossi, who, along with his partner Jenna Dashney, makes up Pemberton-based The Food Lovers cooking company.

The Food Lovers pride themselves on serving farm-to-table, locally grown food, something they were happy to bring to the Pemberton Music Festival.

"I slaughter my own pigs, my own chicken, we do everything," Ridorossi said.

Ridorossi — a two-time winner of the Cornucopia Whistler Chef's Challenge — had applied to bring his food trailer to the festival, but narrowly missed the deadline, meaning his entire operation had to be set up under a 10x10 tent.

"If you think about a 10x10 tent, there's a barbecue, a fridge, a couple tables and then you're done," Ridorossi said.

But Ridorossi wasn't letting the cramped working space dampen his spirits.

"It's been great. Everybody's so amazing," he said.

On the menu at the Birken tent was a crème brulèe French toast with whipped cream and fresh berries, small organic greens with balsamic vinaigrette and roasted red peppers, black beans, green onions and crumbled feta on a grilled naan with cabbage slaw, to name just a few of the unique offerings.

But the favourite, Ridorossi said, was the pulled pork sandwich, topped with two fried eggs, black beans, cheddar and green onion.

Ridorossi's pulled pork creation proved so popular, in fact, that by early Sunday it was joined on the menu by a sticker declaring it sold out.

Sandwiched between Birken and Grimm's was local Pemberton favourite Solfeggio Whole Foods, whose salads, smoothies and wraps kept a steady stream of customers coming up to the tent.

But for those whose appetites were a bit lighter, the local food fare extended further to a miniature farmer's market located near the local food vendors.

JD Hare, of Hare's Farm, Pemberton Organic Blueberries, was enjoying the music from his tent in the farmer's market.

"It's a great place to be," he said.

Hare, along with his wife Sharon, runs a blueberry farm that's "pretty much right next door to the festival grounds," he said, so it was an easy decision to set up shop on the grounds for the weekend.

"It's a relatively new farm," he said.

"We planted our bushes in 2010, so this is our third harvest here, but we've been at all the corridor farmers' markets for the last three years."

But it will be less easy to decide if he'll be back next year — the farmers' market crowd that buys big berries in Whistler, Squamish and Pemberton wasn't as apparent at the Pemberton Music Festival.

But it wasn't a complete loss for Hare.

"Nine Inch Nails was awesome last night," he said.

And shortly after Hare was enjoying Nine Inch Nails, the band was likely enjoying some Pemberton-made cuisine courtesy of Grimm's.

"(They) took a catering order from us last night," Mendonca said with a smile.

But unfortunately, Mendonca didn't get a chance to share a pulled pork with NIN frontman Trent Reznor.

"We were too busy," he said.

"Their team came and picked up the order."

Recipe:Crusted French Toast with Eggs Bennie


1 slice of french bread

1 slice medium thickness ham 25 - 30 grams

1 egg poached and 1 egg to dip bread for french toast

1 slice of swiss cheese 25 - 30grams

Syrup as much as you want



Dip french toast in egg and dip in panco. Pan fry both sides for a crusted french toast. Fry a medium-thick piece of ham and add a slice of swiss cheese on top of it in the frying pan to melt cheese slightly. Place a poached egg on top  and place on your plate on a small bed of syrup. Add some homemade hollandaise sauce, or there are some very good sauces at your local grocery store.


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