Chefs helped Whistler, B.C. stay at the forefront of the “destination dining” trend with special outdoor dining events throughout the summer.
The “small but mighty” fine-dining scene in Whistler. B.C., Canada has “proven time and again that you don’t have to stay in Vancouver to find the meal of your decadent dreams,” a recent feature article in the Pique newsmagazine stated. And top chefs in Whistler helped to sustain that trend this summer, Pique noted, by “taking their heralded cuisine outside the kitchen and into the fresh air, as customers’ appetite for authentic, one-of-a-kind dining experiences grows along with their demand for high-quality, locally sourced ingredients.”
The feature article in Pique highlighted several notable outdoor events that led this summer’s culinary events calendar in Whistler, including an extravagant, six-course “Sky High” meal served onboard the Peak 2 Peak Gondola by the Bearfoot Bistro and Whistler Blackcomb; three al fresco dinners dished up by Araxi as part of its acclaimed Longtable Series; Wine @ The Vine, an Italian-inspired affair complete with wine pairings by Summit Fine Wines hosted by the Westin Resort & Spa.
It’s not enough any more for the top restaurants in Whistler to rely solely on the consistent cuisine and stellar service of their brick-and-mortar locations, Pique noted. Increasingly, diners who come to the resort town are “looking for more than just a memorable meal, but a full-on gastronomic experience that they can go home and tell their friends about.”
And fortunately, Pique noted, that’s a service that the major players in Whistler’s fine dining scene are more than happy to provide.
“As a business, I think it’s very important to make sure you’re at the forefront of people’s minds,” Bearfoot’s owner, André St. Jacques, told Pique in the lead-up to the Sky High dinner. “After we do weekends like the one coming up, where people are working 18 or 19 hours a day for three days straight, the staff is tired—but there’s a great sense of accomplishment once the weekend’s done to create these special moments for guests in their lives. It’s something to be very proud of.”
Araxi’s award-winning Executive Chef James Walt has been heading the restaurant’s Longtable Series for three summers now—and, as one of Canada’s early champions of farm-to-table cooking, he relishes the chance to share the story of his food in a beautiful outdoor setting, such as Spud Valley’s stunning North Arm Farm, Pique reported.
“Outdoor dining, especially something where you’re sitting right on the farm, people find the food tastes better,” Walt said. “People know a lot more about food these days, and with these experiences outdoors with different products, people are looking for a thrill.”
Once the thrill dies down, Walt hopes diners will leave with a greater appreciation of how their food is made and where it comes from, Pique reported—and that’s an easier feat when the farm produce being served is just literally steps away from the dinner table.
“It’s an education,” Walt said of his restaurant’s four-course meal. “It’s seeing everything in its purest form and tasting it when it’s fresh. Like a carrot, it should be cooked kind of soft and creamy, and you can only do that with a carrot from [a local farm], not a carrot from Mexico or Peru.
“I think it’s just the next step in our evolution here in North America,” Walt said.