December 01, 2000 Features & Images » Feature Story

Get Stuffed -Pacification 

Whistler chefs among the best in the West

A new cookbook celebrates West Coast cooking and the chefs who made the region famous

"Fine dining" is a relatively new concept for Canada’s West Coast. Throughout Cornucopia, wine producers, connoisseurs, restaurant owners, critics and gourmets commented on how far the industry has come in the last 10 years.

As the restaurant scene emerged, so did a distinctive, regional cooking style based on the natural ingredients that grow along the coast. Created and perfected by some of the most renowned chefs in all of Canada, this style of cooking is starting to attract attention nationally and internationally.

After travelling through B.C. and sampling the best of the West Coast, Virginia Lee, a cookbook author based in Nova Scotia, looked for a B.C. cookbook to take home with her. When she was unable to find one, she decided to put one out herself, touring the province and collecting recipes from the finest chefs and restaurants.

The final result is Pacific Flavours— Recipes from the Best Chefs on Canada’s West Coast .

"The abundant variety of quality local foods coupled with a wealth of ethnic products from the province’s large international population turns British Columbian kitchens into cooks’ playgrounds," wrote Lee in her introduction.

Lee focused her attention on the cuisine of greater Vancouver, Victoria and the islands, the Okanagan Valley and Whistler. Not only are these areas key tourism and culture hubs, the variety of different climates and terrain makes each region distinct.

Judging by the assortment recipes, Lee spent a lot of her research time in Whistler, where many of our most popular and internationally famous restaurants specialize in regional cooking. Her book includes recipes from Araxi, Edgewater Lodge, La Rúa Restaurante, Quattro, Rim Rock Café, Trattoria Di Umberto, Val d’Isere, and The Wildflower Restaurant.

There are more than 20 Whistler recipes in the book, including appetizers, soups, salads, entrees, and desserts. Each recipe includes a list of ingredients, substitute ingredients, and a play-by-play description of how to put it all together. As a bonus, each chef also recommends a type of wine to go with the course.

In the Appetizer section, executive chef Thomas Piekarski of Edgewater Lodge contributed a recipe for Pan-Seared Camembert with Spicy Cranberry Sauce. "Creamy Camembert literally oozes from its crunch crust in this hors d’oeuvre, which is delicious spread on bread or crackers," writes Lee.

Chef Rolf Gunther, co-owner and operator of the Rim Rock Café, follows up with recipes for Rare Ahi Tuna and Asian Papaya Slaw, served with Lime Sesame Dressing. "The influence of other Pacific Rim countries is evident in Rolf Gunther’s exquisitely prepared tuna seared on a fresh-tasting tropical papaya slaw."

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