Flight Across Canada Blog Day One – Vancouver to Whitehorse

By Meighan Makarchuk, Chef Liaison, Edible Canada

After more than a year and a half of planning we are finally off on this incredible culinary adventure. Starting with an epic send off at Fairmont YVR, our guests gathered to mingle and meet our traveling culinary team. Celebrating BC ingredients at this feast, Fairmont brought together chefs from four Fairmont properties to collaborate and throw an amazing party with an abundance of sustainable West Coast seafood, wild mushrooms, local cheeses, foraged greens all highlighting the best ingredients in British Columbia.

Guests had a chance to meet all the travelling chefs, and were treated to some epic cocktails by the Fairmont Pacific Rim’s own Creative Beverage Director, Grant Sceney. We are lucky enough to have Grant on board for the duration of the trip, keeping us well hydrated by stirring up some incredible libations on this trip using Corby’s spirits and local ingredients he is foraging for along the way. Follow his exploits on the @FairmontPacific instagram stories, or the hashtag #FairmontCocktails!

Take Off

First thing on the morning of the 16th we took flight on our private Air North charter plane. Our pilot for the few legs of our journey is Joe Sparling – Air North founder and president. An incredible honour! After a quick two hour flight Joe landed us smoothly in Whitehorse. Our guests ventured off on their excursions to explore the Yukon, and we got down to cooking the first of our four signature dinners. These dinners are special because we have all 60 guests together, and our traveling chefs are collaborating with some fantastic local chefs and locally fished, foraged and farmed ingredients.

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The People

Our traveling culinary team is made up of a diverse group of top chefs from across the country. Chef Jeremy Charles is from Raymonds Restaurant St. Johns Newfoundland where he is working towards redefining rustic East Coast cuisine. Chef Ned Bell is from Ocean Wise in Vancouver where he works towards engaging his peers in communities, regions and provinces Coast to Coast to Coast through education and awareness for the future of responsible and sustainable seafood. Chef Stéphane Modat is from Fairmont Le Château Frontenac in Quebec, and has devoted himself to elevated culinary creations. Chef Wayne Morris is owner and executive chef of Boralia in Toronto and brings a deep understanding of many traditional Canadian cuisines.

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The Setting

The venue tonight was Inn on the Lake, frequently voted one of the best boutique hotels in the country. Situated on picturesque Marsh Lake, about a 35 minute drive from Whitehorse. We know this venue well as it’s where we host our annual Whisky Weekends. Marsh Lake is an integral part of the Yukon story, past and present. It’s the headwaters of the Yukon River, traditional home of three Yukon First Nations, second stage on the land and water route to the Klondike gold fields, site of army camps during the building of the Alaska Highway, and today, the second largest community in the Yukon.

Our on the ground culinary team in Whitehorse is made up of Chef Carson Schiffkorn, owner and executive chef of the Inn, Chef Michele Genest, the Boreal Gourmet (who was recently highlighted as one of the top 20 female chefs in the world!) Chef Troy King, chef at Inn on the Lake, Chef Egle Zaldokas-Barnes of Boreal Bikers, master forager Chef Lyn Fabio, and countless others who assisted in foraging ingredients and helping with preparations.

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Our First Signature Dinner: Whitehorse Edition

After a full day of excursions our guests arrived the Inn and were greeted with a Fairmont welcome cocktail, the Candy Cap Magic. Dreamed up by mixologist Grant Sceney this cocktail is his take on an old fashioned, using candy cap mushroom infused Lot 40 rye whisky. Candy caps are wild foraged mushrooms with an incredible maple flavour that lends themselves well to cocktails and desserts. For an amuse bouche Chef Stéphane Modat created a bite of duck margarite with sweet gale seeds and wild Yukon berries.

Connecting people with the history and culture of the regions we are visiting is important to us. After the welcome reception our guests moved outside to experience some true Yukon history. Panning for gold in a river, examining artifacts leant to us by the MacBride Museum of Yukon history, and viewing Teslin Tlingit carver Ken Anderson’s artwork, all while enjoying canapes of local charcuterie and Arctic char tartare created by Chef Carson Schiffkorn, along with Chef Ned Bell and Chef Miche Genest’s dish of Yukon whitefish with dried clams and ikura.

On to dinner, seated on a longtable next to Marsh Lake, our guests dined on an impressive five course meal. Chef Troy King’s Ramen with foraged greens and wild boar belly. Chef Wayne’s seared venison with foraged Atlin watercress, Ontario goat cheese, Yukon berries, and wild sorrel. Chefs Miche, Jeremy, Carson and Ned collaborated on two courses of grilled Arctic char with crispy skin, lovage and Labrador tea. And grilled elk sirloin with high bush cranberry reduction, whole triticale grain, miso, wild agaricus mushrooms and grilled baby root vegetables. Dessert by Chefs Egle and Lyn was an expression of the wild boreal forest; low bush cranberry mousse, dark chocolate, rose petal meringue, and birch syrup shortbread.

The entire meal was paired with wines from Quail’s Gate in the Okanagan, and Moosehead Breweries beer. They went perfectly with the wild northern flavours! The staff were kept warm throughout in their beautiful Canada Goose jackets, hosting in style!

We packed in a lot today and are so incredibly excited to take off to Yellowknife tomorrow for our next set of adventures!

Please follow along with us on social media: @ediblecanada (Instagram/twitter) and using #TasteTheNorth2017