The epitome of West Coast beauty, Tofino invites visitors from all over the world to witness the expanse of the Pacific Ocean, sandy beaches and ancient forest. It is also the home of Wickaninnish Inn, an award-winning Relais & Châteaux property that exudes rustic charm and West Coast hospitality. Many well-known Canadian chefs-- Rod Butters, Mark Filatow, Justin Laboissiere, Duncan Ly, Andrew Springett, to name a few--have come through the doors of The Pointe Restaurant within the inn and left their mark with memorable dishes that feature fresh and local ingredients.
In the excerpt below from the new cookbook, managing director Charles McDiarmid details the beginning and the evolution of the Wickaninnish Inn, as well as The Pointe Restaurant. You can read the introduction below, and you can order ahead of its release on May 29, 2018.
Excerpted from The Wickaninnish Inn Cookbook: Rustic Elegance on Nature's Edge. Published by Appetite by Random House. Reproduced with permission from the Publisher. All rights reserved.
There's a moment, when you’re driving along Highway 4, after you’ve passed the stands of towering old-growth Douglas firs of Cathedral Grove and traversed the narrow switchbacks near Kennedy Lake, when you turn a corner, top a rise, and there it is: your first glimpse of the wild west coast of Vancouver Island. A froth of white water rolls onto the wide, sandy strand of Long Beach, where the Pacific Ocean stretches out to meet the horizon.
I’ve seen this view countless times, and it’s nothing short of magical. But for me, it means one thing above all: home.
Just a few minutes farther up the road is the Wickaninnish Inn, the realization of our long-held family dream. Growing up along this wild coast, my parents would talk about opening an inn on the rocks overlooking Chesterman Beach. Our goal was to create a destination that would allow others to discover the remarkable beauty of this part of the world. To have our guests be mesmerized by the rolling waves, meet the fascinating characters we call our neighbours, and revel in the taste of local salmon and crab. We wanted to create a place of quiet serenity right on nature’s edge.
“The Wick,” as our friends like to call it, has become that place. Today we are a 75-room inn perched on the edge of the Pacific Ocean, with a view of this mighty ocean from every room, suite, and public space. The Inn was the first high-end hotel on the west coast of Vancouver Island and the first destination resort, with all that implies: high-thread-count sheets, attentive service, and a soothing ambience of natural wood, stone, and glass combined with the soft colours of the rainforest. We’re honoured to be a member of the Relais & Châteaux family, an international association of intimately scaled luxury properties guided by the five Cs: Calm, Character, Courtesy, Charm, and—perhaps most importantly—Cuisine.
The Pointe Restaurant is the crown jewel of the Wickaninnish Inn. The space is encircled with floor-to-ceiling windows framing a 240-degree panorama of Chesterman Beach, forested offshore islands, and the endless ocean. Inspired by our family cabin on the adjacent point of land, at first glance, the room looks simple: an octagonal space with wooden chairs and tables protected by massive hand-adzed cedar posts and beams fanning out from a central core to the windows and ever-changing vistas beyond. Look closer, though, and you’ll see the quiet handcrafted elegance of expertly detailed woodwork and perfectly placed lighting illuminating locally crafted tableware and haunting works by local First Nations artists. We’ve done all we can to create everything with care, no detail left to chance.
But as spectacular as the scenery is, and as elegant as the décor is, the real masterpieces here are on the plates.
Since opening in 1996, our kitchen has been led by some of Canada’s most talented chefs, from our opening chef, Chef Rod Butters, to current Executive Chef Warren Barr. Not only have they prepared delicious meals for our guests, they have also been leaders in the sustainable, seasonal, farm-to-table—or more accurately on this coast, boat-to-table—culinary movement. Long before it was fashionable, they were sourcing produce from the Island’s fishers, foragers, and farmers. Through their menus, they celebrated the incredible local seafood bounty, including Dungeness crab, salmon, spot prawns, and halibut, as well as treasures of the forest, such as tender chanterelle mushrooms and tart cynamoka berries. They created a style of cuisine unique to this region; they also inspired other chefs who over time have transformed tiny Tofino into one of Canada’s great culinary communities.
In the following pages, we’ve gathered some of the most unforgetta- ble dishes created by our chefs, including Chef Butters’s shellfish-rich potlatch, a West Coast take on bouillabaisse (page 126); Chef Duncan Ly’s Thai-scented chowder (page 60); Chef Andrew Springett’s cinnamon- scented duck (page 168); Chef Mark Filatow’s bright sidestripe prawn escabeche (page 148); Chef Justin Labossiere’s saffron-scented ravioli stuffed with crab (page 144); Executive Chef Barr’s crispy briny oyster coals (page 130) and his beautifully sculpted salmon mosaic (page 132); Chef Matthias Conradi’s decadent chocolate platter for two (page 199); and Chef Matt Wilson’s hearty sourdough bread (page 71). There is salmon in a myriad of dishes, crab in almost as many, and chowder, so much chowder.
Are you hungry yet? Well, you’re in luck—all the deliciousness of the Wickaninnish Inn lies just ahead. Won’t you join us?