Food brings people together and dinner is generally considered to be a time of calm and joy, but that doesn’t mean it can’t come with a side of adrenaline. On June 28-29, 2014 Whistler’s Bearfoot Bistro is hosting a pair of culinary events that only Whistler can pull off.
On Saturday June 28,2014, Whistler dining takes to the skies with SKYHIGH, a charity fundraiser that will see award winning, executive chef Melissa Craig and Bearfoot staff serving a 6-course dinner to patrons seated inside the record-breaking PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola. That’s 6 courses served to groups of ten inside glass cabins that will be up to 436 metres (1,427 feet) off the ground as they travel from Whistler Mountain to Blackcomb and back.
“This is one of the most interesting things we’ve ever done,” says Chef Melissa. “It will be a spectacular event but the timing is going to be challenging.”
That’s an understatement. The PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola doors are only open for 90 seconds as the cabins roll through their mountain top stations. With 28 gondolas holding ten patrons each, Bearfoot staff will have to serve food, wine and clear tables with an almost military precision.
“It’s more like a Formula 1 pit crew than a standard serving scenario,” says Bearfoot general manager Kerren Bottay. “Fourteen different staff will interact with each table and everyone has a very specific task. We are running time trials right now and I am literally standing there with a stopwatch.”
Chef Craig will be operating from two satellite kitchens built in the gondola stations specifically for this event and once the gondola doors close patrons will be alone to enjoy a truly gourmet meal as they travel across the longest unsupported span in the world in the highest lift of its kind. And of course, it all happens as the sun sets behind the stunning Coast Mountains.
The SKYHIGH concept was created as a fundraiser for the Whistler Blackcomb Foundation. “We wanted to do something spectacular,” says Bearfoot owner Andre Saint-Jaques. “To be able to serve this dinner in the sky, in the mountains at sunset, is going to be fantastic.”
A dinner in the sky will certainly be one of the highlights in Whistler’s culinary calendar but Melissa, Andre and the Bearfoot team are certainly not resting on their laurels. THE VERY NEXT DAY they host the fourth annual World Oyster Invitational & Bloody Caesar Battle.
“It’s going to bigger than ever before,” says Bearfoot marketing director Marc Des Rosiers. “We have 14-15 shuckers coming from as far away as Ireland and Japan. Each competitor has to open a certain number of oysters and plate them. It’s not just a race, it has to do with the presentation as well.”
The Bloody Caesar Battle will include 6 bartenders from Vancouver and Whistler offering their most creative take on Canada’s favourite cocktail. The thrill of competition set in a lavish garden party setting and topped with that special Bearfoot joie de vivre should indeed make this year’s event the best yet. Or at the very least, it’s a good reason to call the office and stay an extra day in the mountains. (Insider Tip: The drive back to Vancouver is much more enjoyable on Monday afternoons than Sunday.)
And the good times don’t stop once the last oyster shell hits the table. Whistler has a host of other culinary events planned for the summer. Here are some other tasty highlights:
Bulleit Bourbon Canadian National BBQ Championships
August 1-3 2014. Whistler Creekside
Smoke and sauce and lots of meat. The BBQ champs are another annual event as Whistler Creekside literally lights up with flavour. There is free music, family entertainment and a couple signature events: The Whole Lotta Ribs Dinner and the Bottomless BBQ Buffet. Get more info from Dusty’s Bar & BBQ.
Pemberton Slow Food Cycle Sunday
August 17, 2014. Pemberton
Agritourism! Slow Food Cycle is bicycle journey through the fertile farmlands of the Pemberton Valley with all kinds of tasty stops along the way. Meet local growers and food producers in BC’s ultimate pedal powered buffet. More Info.
Le Dîner en Blanc
August 28, 2014. Somewhere in Whistler
The location is kept very hush-hush but after 25 years of building momentum around the world this celebrated outdoors dining event is hitting Whistler for the first time. And it will feature live music, dancing, and an elegant picnic with a few thousand new friends. Traditionally these Diner en Blanc events are Bring-your-own-food but the Bearfoot Bistro is stepping up and will provide a gourmet picnic for diners unable to cook their own. More info.
Araxi Longtable Series at Lost Lake
August 30, 2014. Lost Lake, Whistler
Araxi chef James Walt is one of Whistler’s first farm-to-table masters and this annual event is his chance to show off the food that makes Araxi legendary. It’s one giant, long table of deliciousness and Lost Lake Park’s serene forest-and-lake setting should make for the perfect night outside. More Info.
Whistler Village Beer Festival
September 11-14, 2014. Whistler Village
Beer counts as food right? This event was the party of the summer last year and now it’s back for another round with lots of tastings, special dinners, beer pairings and a beer for every palate. Drink up.
Of course, with over 90 restaurants in the Village alone, any night in Whistler can be a culinary adventure. There’s also the epic Mountaintop BBQ Series and the Whistler Farmers’ Market every Wednesday and Sunday at the base of Blackcomb Mountain. You are what you eat so get up here and eat some adventure.