Whistler restaurant gets cooking, on screen

My fellow Food Network junkies, listen up: there may be a new show headed our way and this one will have a special twist - it's set in a Whistler kitchen.

Now, that might not seem overly significant to some, but anyone who works in the F&B biz here knows that there are some extra special challenges that they have to deal with to keep a restaurant running smoothly in a town full of powder hounds, party animals and transients.

"Whistler is a very unique setting, more so than just having a restaurant and all the generic stuff that all the other venues and restaurants in the world go through," explained Travis Talbot, Director of Operations for Players Chophouse. "Whistler has its unique challenges and its unique tastes, really, because it changes every season, and the challenge every season is to staff it, to retrain."

Whistler restaurants have to simultaneously appeal to an international palate and local budget, get through two lengthy shoulder seasons and deal with ever-present staffing issues. Whew! All that drama should make for good TV.

The Chophouse, which opened for business in the fall of 2008, has been pitching a range of concepts for reality TV shows to production companies since they opened, including a show that would look at all of the restaurants owned and operated by their parent company, Point West Hospitality. But it looks like they've hit their mark with their latest concept, dubbed The Chophouse, which looks at what it's really like to live in Whistler and work at a restaurant.

Now before everyone gets their panties in a knot, fretting that this is going to be another Peak Season or Hell's Kitchen, Talbot offers reassurance that they aren't out to sensationalize Whistler's stereotypical party lifestyle. Rather, they want to offer an authentic look at what goes on behind the scenes at their restaurant.

"We wanted nothing to look like Peak Season. So a lot of the staff do go out and party and that's part of the culture here, but we wanted the show to be about the restaurant and all the pieces, and not just people who work in a restaurant and go out and get bombed," he said.

A risky endeavour indeed, if my personal experience working in food service counts for anything. Hell, things can get pretty hectic behind the scenes at a restaurant without throwing a camera crew into the mix. And with the Olympics right around the corner, it's a particularly crazy time to get involved in producing a television show.

The show takes a look at both front and back of house staff, vendors, management and customers, all in an attempt to showcase Whistler's culture.

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