THE FINER SIDE OF CANADA’S WILD WEST COAST
The Finer SIDE of Canada’s
Come along on an epic culinary adventure to the untamed coast of British Columbia’s Vancouver Island; an off the beaten path travel destination and the tasty secrets that await in Tofino.
Yes, Tofino is still known for its small town friendly vibe, awesome cold water surfing and laid back way of life. But over the last few years, something else has been simmering in this small tourist town on British Columbia’s wild west island coast. I had been hearing that the culinary scene is exploding in Tofino; that it’s different now. And so, armed with skeptical curiosity and a healthy appreciation for regional cuisine - after all, Vancouver Island is my home - I headed off to Tofino to see if I could taste the difference.
I’ve been to Tofino many times, and have usually stayed at Pacific Sands or right in Tofino at a lovely condo rental right over the town bakery. This time, and keeping the regional flavors of the trip in mind, I wanted to stay somewhere that locals congregate for a good meal, a great wave, and an amazing sunset. So we checked into Long Beach Lodge Resort.
Just seven miles from downtown Tofino, right off the Pacific Rim Highway, Long Beach Lodge Resort is casual luxe at its finest; an oceanfront property designed to take full advantage of the awe inspiring and ever- changing vistas. With forty one lodge rooms and twenty cottages, it really feels like home.
The Great Room envelopes you with West Coast charm, with its massive granite fireplace and Douglas Fir post and beam construction. Linger over breakfast, curl up in an overstuffed chair with a craft cocktail or lose yourself in the crashing surf outside the window.
Of course, the hotel sits directly on Cox Bay, which offers some of the best surfing in Tofino. It is impossible not to pull up a driftwood log and just sit. The beach is wide and majestic and there is a special awe that comes over you as you witness Mother Nature at its rarest.
If you want the true Tofino experience, I recommend staying with the friendly folks at Long Beach Lodge Resort, and make sure to ask Chef Ian Riddick to whip you up a batch of his freshly harvested baked Kelp chips.
Luckily, we were in town for Feast Tofino. In its sixth year, Feast Tofino is a collaboration between acclaimed local and regional guest chefs, restaurants, fishermen, foragers and farmers, all of whom celebrate the boat-to-table philosophy of West Coast cuisine.
The first night, we headed over to the beautiful Tofino Botanical Gardens, which in itself was a feast for all the senses. Chef Joël Watanabe of Kissa Tanto and Bao Bei joined resident culinary superstar Chef Nick Nutting of Wolf in the Fog for an evening of Asian/italian street food and raw bar. The imagination in each dish, the respect with which each was prepared and the passion in each bite was obvious. The seafood was indescribably great, and the face of Tofino Mayer Josie Osborne (above) says more than I ever could with words.
I wandered back to the hotel knowing that I had been part of something very special. It may just be food, but this was good food. It was food that meant a lot to those who were creating it, and it had significance to the locals who were enjoying it. It echos the age old tradition of the strong community bonding that comes with sharing a great meal.
In its inception, Feast Tofino was born so that local business owners could share and celebrate local culinary boat-to-table culture with its community. By inviting world renowned chefs to partner
with local chefs, it has created a successful platform to showcase Tofino, BC as a world class foodie destination.
The second night was an outside/inside revelation in regional cuisine. One part outdoor fun and one part indoor awesomeness.
Mayor Josie Osborne was our host for the evening that began dockside in the parking lot at Trilogy Fish Store. A few hundred people lined up for the 4th annual Boat to Tailgate Party that saw locals, tourists and visiting foodie fans lining up for the freshest seafood you have ever eaten! Live music, friends laughing, and face painted toddlers dancing made for a perfect fresh air experience. It was a local fundraising event to raise money for local salmon research with Central West Coast Forest Society.
From there, we walked with Mayor Osborne to our indoor culinary destination, Wolf In the Fog.
LOOK DEEP INTO NATURE YOU WILL UNDERSTAND EVERYTHING BETTER - ALBERT EINSTEIN -
Chances are good if you are interested in the culinary world, you know of Chef Nick Nutting and his Tofino restaurant, Wolf in the Fog.
I instantly sit up and pay attention when a world class acclaimed chef like Nick Nutting chooses to invest in a small, off the beaten path town like Tofino, and then stays. It isn’t every career chef that thinks this way, especially after Wolf in the Fog was named Best New Restaurant in 2014 by Air Canada enroute magazine.
Chef Nutting approaches food honestly - he honors the ingredients, and allows the flavors to speak for themselves, with help from his very deft culinary hand.
Wolf in the Fog captures the true essence of Tofino with incredible seasonal menus. I highly recommend the Smoked Tofino Salmon and Potato Crusted Oysters (both shown right), if they are on the menu when you visit. Chef Nutting doesn’t just curate menus and cook exceptional food. He forages for ingredients and works with local island producers to ensure his team is serving up the freshest ingredients and doing their part to support the local Vancouver Island economy.
Family style plating is one of my favorite ways to eat at a restaurant, and Wolf in the Fog does it so well. All the plates and cutlery are vintage and mismatched, making for charming table decor that is set against the sultry West Coast interior design.
When you combine stunning oceanfront hotels with warm local hospitality and exceptional food, it is no wonder the culinary scene in Tofino is exploding. Now that I have experienced it, I am truly surprised it hasn’t happened sooner. Get here.