ARAXI THE PIN­NA­CLE OF WHISTLER FINE DIN­ING

Whistler Traveller Magazine - - TASTE I HOT SPOT -

WHEN WALK­ING THROUGH THE DOORS OF ARAXI, ONE CAN’T HELP BUT FEEL A WARM SENSE OF WEL­COME. FROM THE SOFTLY LIT CEIL­INGS TO THE WARM EARTHY TONES OF THE DECOR, THE PLEAS­ANT SET­TING IS SEC­ONDARY ONLY TO THE SMILES SEEN ON ALL THE STAFF FROM THE GREET­ING HOST­ESS TO THE CHEF BUSY WORK­ING AT THEIR SIG­NA­TURE RAW BAR. FOR OVER 30 YEARS THIS RESTAU­RANT HAS SET THE BAR FOR CULI­NARY CUL­TURE IN WHISTLER AND HAS EARNED AN IN­TER­NA­TIONAL REP­U­TA­TION FOR ITS EX­CEL­LENCE IN FOOD, WINE AND HOS­PI­TAL­ITY. HAV­ING BEEN RECOG­NISED IN THE “TOP 50 CANADA’S BEST RESTAU­RANTS” BY MACLEAN’S MAG­A­ZINE, 2012, ARAXI EX­EM­PLI­FIES WHISTLER FINE DIN­ING. Farm to ta­ble is now a com­mon theme in high- end restau­rants, an ini­tia­tive that Ex­ec­u­tive Chef James Walt has pro­moted in the Araxi kitchen since his ar­rival in 1997. Walt has built strong re­la­tion­ships with Pem­ber­ton’s farm­ing and ranch­ing com­mu­nity, where he sources the ma­jor­ity of his in­gre­di­ents. “We have a big fo­cus on lo­cally sourced, farm- to- ta­ble in­gre­di­ents from Pem­ber­ton, Van­cou­ver Is­land and the Lower Main­land,” says Araxi restau­rant di­rec­tor Neil Hen­der­son. “The menu is sea­son­ally de­rived as well; once some­thing is out of sea­son from the lo­cal area, then it goes off the menu.” The cul­mi­na­tion of this re­la­tion­ship is ev­i­dent with Araxi’s Longtable Se­ries, a four- course al fresco din­ing ex­pe­ri­ence with up to 170 guests seated at one con­tin­u­ous ta­ble. The farm­ers that pro­vide Araxi’s in­gre­di­ents are usu­ally in at­ten­dance and will show­case their prod­uct for guests to sam­ple. Af­ter­wards, the farm­ers sit down with the guests and en­joy their prod­ucts pre­pared by the team of chefs. This sum­mer there are al­ready three Longtable din­ners con­firmed that will be held in Lost Lake Park in Whistler, North Arm Farm in Pem­ber­ton, and a yet to be de­ter­mined venue in Van­cou­ver. “It shows the di­rect re­la­tion­ship that we have with the farm­ers and the syn­ergy we have with the farms,” says Hen­der­son. “We don’t just use their prod­ucts at the Longtable din­ners; they are used ev­ery day in the restau­rant. We spend all this time bring­ing the farm to the restau­rant; this time we’ve taken the ta­ble and the restau­rant to the farm.” Such a mem­o­rable din­ing ex­pe­ri­ence would not be com­plete with­out ex­quis­ite wines to pair. For ev­ery Longtable din­ner, Araxi’s wine di­rec­tor Sa­man­tha Rahn or­ches­trates ex­clu­sive tast­ings and pair­ings from a re­gional wine list. Rahn re­ceived the 2013 award for Som­me­lier of the Year in Western Canada at the Van­cou­ver In­ter­na­tional Wine Fes­ti­val. This is the first time the award has been given to a som­me­lier out­side of Van­cou­ver. She con­ducts weekly wine sem­i­nars for her staff at Araxi – five of which are qual­i­fied som­me­liers them­selves - to keep ev­ery­one en­gaged and up to date on the lat­est la­bels. Only she is fa­mil­iar with the se­lec­tion of all 1100 va­ri­eties, but all staff is ed­u­cated in the var­i­ous re­gions and able to nav­i­gate the wine list with ab­so­lute con­fi­dence. So how does one re­ceive the full din­ing ex­pe­ri­ence that Araxi has to of­fer? “By our guests let­ting us guide them,” says Hen­der­son. “By ask­ing us to de­scribe the menu and all the pos­si­bil­i­ties we can achieve with the menu, we are able to sug­gest dishes and com­bi­na­tions as well as wine pair­ings ac­cord­ing to the in­ten­si­ties of the wine and the sea­son.” Dur­ing the sum­mer months Araxi opens its pa­tio for full- ser­vice lunch and din­ner and on the week­ends for brunch. The cock­tail

WHISTLER TRAV­ELLER

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