The bounty that comes from B.C.’s crystal-clear aqua waters off the Strait of Georgia is a seafood lover’s dream. Fresh halibut, prawns, shrimp, cod, salmon, tuna … the list seems endless. And no one celebrates our coastal seafood better than the chefs taking part in Western Canada’s largest seafood festival: the 15th Annual BC Seafood Festival, running June 23 to 25.
In a first for the popular, long-running festival, the location has changed to the Comox Valley’s Mount Washington Alpine Resort. Boasting stunning mountainous and ocean vistas, celebrated and award-winning local, regional and national chefs will set up shop along the lawns to cook up their specialties for all to savour. This year’s festival is also welcoming well-known Ned Bell as the chef ambassador. The likable, Canadian culinary talent is well known in the hospitality industry as a passionate sustainable seafood advocate, keynote speaker and educator; one who has forged a legacy in industry and beyond. “We are very excited this year to have a permanent new home at Mt. Washington, as well as some of the best chefs from across B.C., as far away as the Okanagan,” says Bell. “Attendees are in for a real treat. With all events in one place, they can eat, slurp, sip, learn and hike … all at Mt. Washington.”
Master classes will help you uncover your inner chef: A dizzying array of interactive master classes will make even a novice or aspiring chef shine in the kitchen. Over three days, you can register for classes like the BC Oysters, where the world’s fastest oyster shucker, Guinness World Record holding shucker Paddy McMurray will teach the history and ABCs of oysters. There’s also the Prawn to be Wild master class, where you will discover new ways to cook these beloved coastal gems. If you love halibut, and who doesn’t, attend the Wholey Halibut: We’re Getting Cheeky! master class. A full list of master classes is available here.
Stage right: If competitions are your thing, there are four in total that will keep you on the edge of your seat or in fits of laughter. The Fanny Bay oyster shucking competition has grown into a very popular event. The battle pits the fastest shuckers against one another, including McMurray (or “Shucker Paddy”), all of whom perform like rock stars on the stage, wowing the audience with their dexterity. The other “friendly” competitions include Best Caesar in Town, Chowder challenge and the BC Seafood Festival’s Chef Challenge that’s sure to be extremely spirited as one chef will walk away with crowning glory!
The Gala Dinner: On Saturday, June 24 dress in your finest for a feast not to be missed. The signature event of the weekend is the Gala Dinner. Highlighting 10 of some of the best of the best of culinary masters in the province, including award-winning Chris Whittaker of Timber Shuswap, Club Versante executive chef Will Lew and executive chef of North Vancouver’s Pier 7 Restaurant Garett Kemp, you will be dazzled with an array of seafood tasting stations. Be greeted with a complimentary welcome cocktail by Wayward Distillery and sway to the live music solo guitarist Paul Keim, (before dinner), followed by the light jazz sounds of the Jeff Drummond Group performing during dinner.
Stay and play: Surrounded by jaw-dropping rugged alpine and pristine ocean vistas, Mount Washington Alpine Resort is opening its doors to welcome all festival seekers. Along with your festival pass, the resort is kicking in free scenic chairlift ride passes during the festival. You can dine at the Eagle view Bistro and, to work off some of those delicious calories, there are numerous hiking and biking trails.
Getting there: BC Ferries offers a scenic, picturesque and relaxing way to adventure over to the Island. Terminals on Vancouver Island are located in Victoria (Swartz Bay) and Nanaimo (Departure Bay or Duke Point) with ferry service to/from the Vancouver area. —Michelle Hopkins