Get Stuffed 

Resurrecting the hotel kitchen

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"That was a great experience and a real challenge as the menu changed every day. We offered three appetizers, two soups, four entrees and two desserts and it changed every day. It challenged you to be creative, to keep yourself from repeating anything."

Unable to resist the temptation of owning his own place, Stufano returned to Victoria and opened Pranzo, which means main meal of the day in Italian. But after four years of long, long days, fierce competition and three young children who he wasn’t seeing, Stufano decided to return to hotel kitchens.

"It was a great experience in that we made a lot of our food from scratch – jams and breads and we changed the menu every week, had our own herb garden. But the hours were just too much. I wasn’t seeing my kids."

Stufano says any time away from the kitchen is spent with his kids but other than that he is happy to spend his time in a hotel kitchen. It’s a passion that has taken him around the world, entering cooking competitions in Toronto, Seattle and Singapore.

And for those who think that Whistler skiing and dining is getting too expensive, listen to Stufano’s guest chef experience in Davos, Switzerland.

"I went as a guest chef promoting B.C. food and it was a real eye-opening experience. That’s real high end there. Ferraris, Lamborghinis, you name it. Great food too, with prices to match."

Kind of puts into perspective the $225 price tag for 30 grams of caviar that the Wildflower’s starter menu describes as "the highlight of your day and the gaiety of your evening."

If such highlights of your day are beyond your pocketbook, check out two very reasonably priced $45 Wildflower specials. Every Saturday at 4 p.m. in the wine room the Wildflower hosts a Canadian wine discovery which features five Canadian wines, including the Golden Nectar Icewine and samples from the Wildflower's dinner menu.

Tuesday evenings offer the Wonder of the Ocean, featuring the freshest seafood of the Pacific Northwest, with an emphasis on local ingredients paired with an extensive wine list that offers over 350 labels.

Stufano says he enjoys ordering from and supporting local farmers and by doing so, often gets the first pick of local produce.

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