Going Bearfoot at home

Since opening in December 1995, Whistler's Bearfoot Bistro has made a name for itself on B.C.'s fine dining scene, hosting extravagant parties like the legendary (and now defunct) Masquerave party during Cornucopia.

Anyone who has had the pleasure of dining at Bearfoot understands the appeal of the experience: descending the stairwell in the dining room to visit the wine cellar that is lined with thousands of bottles of wine and champagne or hanging out at the custom-made pewter champagne bar that features a rail of ice to light up (and cool) your champagne flute from below.

Throw in the undeniable personality that is André Saint-Jacques, founder of the restaurant, and the incredible modern Canadian cuisine of executive chef Melissa Craig, and it's pretty easy to see why the Bearfoot is such a popular spot.

Unbeknownst to most, the crew at the Bearfoot occasionally take their show on the road, catering special events throughout town and further abroad, in destinations like Quebec City, Hong Kong and Beijing.

But now, with the Olympics right around the corner, they've decided to make things official, launching the catering arm of their restaurant in a big way.

"Now, there's such a need for catering with the upcoming Olympics, we decided that 'well, why don't we make this official and officially have another arm to the business?'" said Saint-Jacques. "And by doing so, we're setting our business apart, committing to off-site functions that we'll be doing between now and after the Olympics."

Last Friday night they hosted a special dinner party at a stunning home in Stonebridge, inviting a select, lucky few business partners out to give them a taste of the Bearfoot experience, off-site. And what an experience it was.

To set the mood for the evening, Pemberton's Papa Josh provided down-tempo, subdued tunes. Meanwhile former sous chef Gaetan Charest, who has recently been promoted to the role of catering chef, and executive chef Melissa Craig led the charge in the kitchen. They whipped up a 10-course menu that included candied ruby trout, himachi tartar with fresh jalapeno, sweet walla walla onion soup, pan seared Qualicum scallop, mandarin and lychee liquor sorbet, Okanagan valley venison loin, and presentation of le secret cheese served with fresh walnut bread, dried fig and apples. Of course then there was dessert: guanaja chocolate (an incredibly rich chocolate from Honduras and South Caribbean made of 89 per cent cacao), macaroons and truffles. And since this was a Bearfoot event, each course was paired with a selection of wines from B.C. and Washington.

What made the evening all the more remarkable was the fact that the catering team arrived on site at just 11:30 a.m. that day to start preparing for the evening, setting up tables, unloading dishes and cutlery and making all the other adjustments necessary to host an event that they could be proud of.

On top of offering fine dining in private homes, they also plan to provide personal chef services, private sommelier and bartenders, catering at weddings and corporate events, event planning, cellar management and cooking classes.

"It can be two people to 2,000 people," Saint-Jacques laughed. "...We know how to hold events, and we know how to throw a party, that's for sure!"


An extra scoop

The lifts have been running for a few weeks now, but it's finally time to break the ice with the newest après hotspot in town, Prime Tapas Bar. The smaller sister to another Creekside newcomer, Players Chophouse, will be hosting its grand opening event Thursday, Dec. 10, starting at 2 p.m.

The IceBreaker gala is designed to introduce the new bar to the community, while raising money for a local non-profit group, Whistler Animals Galore (WAG). With three local DJs spinning the afternoon and evening away, B.C. wines being poured and canapés from the Chophouse's executive chef Jon Campbell being passed around to the crowd, Prime management is inviting everyone to come check out their new digs. Everything from cocktail dresses to snowboard gear is considered acceptable attire at this new laidback après spot, and the opening night IceBreaker gala is inspired and organized by staff members, with an emphasis on sharing, sampling and socializing.

"Who better to develop and promote an exciting new concept than the people who live it?" Director of Operations, Travis Talbot, said in a press release. "The staff are the ones reveling in the village restaurants and bars every night. Their insights and enthusiasm alone will animate the room."

The $10 cover will go to WAG. Anyone interested in attending should contact info@whistlerchophouse.ca .


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