Feed­ing the masses

Cor­ner Brook chef will lead the culi­nary com­po­nent of The Gath­er­ing

The Western Star - - FRONT PAGE - BY GARY KEAN [email protected]­ern­star.com Twit­ter: WS_GaryKean

It will be three busy days of cook­ing for hun­dreds of peo­ple, but David Vatcher is hoping to still find the time to thor­oughly en­joy his up­com­ing ex­pe­ri­ence at The Gath­er­ing.

The owner of Best Coast Café in Cor­ner Brook has been ap­pointed lead chef for this year’s fes­ti­val based in the Burling­ton area of the Baie Verte Penin­sula.

The Gath­er­ing, which takes place Aug. 23-25, has be­come one of New­found­land and Labrador’s more pop­u­lar fes­ti­vals since its in­cep­tion in 2012. Its hall­mark has been show­cas­ing true lo­cal hos­pi­tal­ity and re­viv­ing the tourism in­dus­try in ru­ral New­found­land.

As lead chef, Vatcher will head up a team of nine or 10 other cooks who will be whip­ping up dishes from noon to 7 p.m. each day of the event for fes­ti­val go­ers, or­ga­niz­ers, vol­un­teers and en­ter­tain­ers.

“I’ve looked at the lineup of chefs who have done this in the past and it’s quite an hon­our just to have been asked to do it, let alone the ac­tual op­por­tu­nity to do it,” Vatcher said. “It’s go­ing to be fun and hope­fully it all works out and we can keep do­ing it into the fu­ture.”

Vatcher and his team of chefs be­gan a Face­book chat group to be­gin bounc­ing around ideas for the menu. Only one of the chefs has worked The Gath­er­ing be­fore, but Vatcher is con­fi­dent they have a menu that will keep every­one sated for the du­ra­tion of the fes­ti­val.

The menu will fea­ture a va­ri­ety of foods, but will be laden with a num­ber of cod and mus­sel recipes as or­ga­niz­ers try to keep el­e­ments of the event as lo­cal as pos­si­ble. Vatcher said or­ga­niz­ers have helped put him in con­tact with lo­cal farm­ers and fish har­vesters to source lo­cal in­gre­di­ents wher­ever they could.

With the theme of “Fire Food Mu­sic,” the vis­ual and ol­fac­tory as­pects of meal prepa­ra­tion will be a big part of the culi­nary ex­pe­ri­ence.

“A lot of it will be open-flame cook­ing with bar­be­cues and pots boil­ing over fire that you can see and smell,” said Vatcher.

The event also fea­tures chef hikes, dur­ing which a chef will take a smaller group on an ex­cur­sion and cook more re­fined meals for them. Vatcher won’t be do­ing any of those, but would love to have an op­por­tu­nity to lead a chef hike at a fu­ture fes­ti­val.

“If I was go­ing (as a fes­ti­val pa­tron), I would def­i­nitely be tak­ing in some of those be­cause those menus are go­ing to be re­ally nice,” he said.

While he won’t get to have that ex­pe­ri­ence this year, Vatcher does hope to get time to en­joy some of the long list of mu­si­cians and co­me­di­ans on the fes­ti­val’s bill.


Cor­ner Brook’s David Vatcher has been cho­sen as lead chef for this year’s The Gath­er­ing fes­ti­val, to be held in the Burling­ton-Mid­dle Arm-Smith’s Har­bour area of the Baie Verte Penin­sula from Aug. 23-25.

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