Table scraps 

The 16th annual Telus Winter Classic ensures ski teams will work up an appetite on the race course during the day, then wine and dine with the best of B.C. in the evening at Whistler Winetastic! at the Westin Resort and the Elements of B.C. Grand Gala at the Roundhouse on Whistler Mountain.

I guess former Aubergine Grille executive chef Darren Brown couldn't plate enough heart of palm to keep his homesickness for Las Vegas at bay. He lasted only a few months before heading out for sunnier skies. Fortunately, Hans Stierli, the prior executive chef to Brown, was able to satisfy his traveling jitters and after visiting other culinary talents around Europe, he decided to return home to Whistler to assume his place at head of Westin Resort dining and the Aubergine Grille.

The Swiss-born chef immigrated to Canada with his parents in 1987. Eight years of working as sous chef in a variety of hotels and restaurants in Switzerland were ripped away on Canadian soil where Stierli was forced to work as a mere "cook" because of the language barrier. However, in a matter of months, he began what would become a long relationship with Westin hotels, first sharpening his knives as a sous chef at the Westin Hotel in Winnipeg in 1987. Now, two decades later, after opening the Malta Westin and the Whistler Westin, Stierli returned from his European getaway to plate his adventures on a new menu for the Aubergine Grille.

While diners await the new menu, Stierli — along with support from Aria Foods — has orchestrated a swish and snack lineup for Whistler Winetastic! An Evening of International Wines and Cheese. More than 20 wine agents will pour a broad selection of roughly 150 wines for guests to taste as they swirl and sample perfect bites. A few highlights include an artisan cheese display with candied nuts and dried fruits; Swiss cheese raclette with organic potatoes, pickled vegetables, gherkins and pickled onions; scallop and Mexican prawn on Yukon mashed potato with bouillabaisse broth; and every girl's dream: a five-tiered chocolate fountain with marshmallows, biscotti and lady fingers for dipping.

More than 700 guests will also be free to mingle through the artist gallery as well as purchase raffle tickets for the Instant Wine Cellar. Mountain FM's Mike Ciccone and his new wife (former Mountain FM host Rebecca Hall), will host the evening with live jazz from Rajan Das and the Das Trio.

Tickets are $55.

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