Birch syrup, fireweed jelly, juniper berry shortbread, and low bush cranberries are a few of the ingredients that will rise to the occasion for the Yukon Culinary Festival.
Among the festival events is the Tastes of Whitehorse food crawl, beginning July 31 at 5:30 p.m. It will encompass the tasty delights of five local restaurants including Antoinette’s, Balzam Café, The Chocolate Claim, The Edge, and The Wheelhouse.
Amy O’Rourke, community relations officer of the Tourism Industry Association of Yukon (TIA), couldn’t be more thrilled about the food crawl.
“This is the first time we are doing an event like this,” she says. “We hope to make it an annual event as it is a great way to showcase local restaurants and guest chefs.”
Each restaurant will host a 45-minute dinner sampler, which will feature an appearance from a guest chef, to explain the dish. Each meal will be accompanied with a beer pairing, courtesy of a flavorsome selection from the Yukon Brewery.
Crawlers then have 15 minutes to arrive at their next destination. At the end of dinner, a specialty dessert will be catered from the Balzam Café, at the Yukon Brewery. If you have any special dietary needs or restrictions, no problem, TIA has you covered.
“When people purchase a ticket, they can leave their contact info, as well as any special diet requests,” says O’Rourke.
Tickets are $90 and can be purchased at participating restaurants.
Dawson City will also be hosting their answer to food crawl on August 1, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., making it possible for food fans to take pleasure in both events.
There are plenty of other festival events. You can treat your taste buds to one or more of the following: First Nations Salmon BBQ (Carcross), Bannock vs. Sourdough demonstration (Dawson City), Wild Game Frenzy (Faro), and Feast of Farms (Rivendell Farms).
Beware of drool-comas to follow.
A food festival would not be complete without guest appearances from celebrity chefs. Author and gastronomy specialist, Miche Genest will be along for Tastes of Whitehorse, and is stoked about the festival.
The Toronto native has been in the Yukon since 1994, and has fallen in love with the local ingredients.
“There are some really great things you can get here, like juniper berries, buckwheat flour, sesame seeds and a wide variety of game,” she says.
Genest is the author of two cookbooks, The Boreal Gourmet: Adventures in Northern Cooking, and The Boreal Feast: A Culinary Journey Through the North.
Some examples of her favourite Yukon recipes are, slow cooked braised wild meat with real birch syrup and wild berries, hot smoked salmon, and hazelnut meringue.
Over the years, the culinary scene in Whitehorse has changed greatly. When Genest first arrived North, there were no farmers markets.
Now, the Fireweed Community Market boasts an impressive selection of locally grown foods. Restaurants are also taking advantage of the availability of produce grown in the Whitehorse-area.
“What also amazes me is how accessible certain ingredients are here, but in other parts of Canada they are hard to find. I gave my brother in Toronto a grocery list of Yukon ingredients, and he was unable to find everything,” Genest says. “We have a lot of fantastic grown resources. And it’s nice to be able to share them with everyone.”
Other celebrity chefs from the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Alaska will be floating around at other festival events, so be sure to keep your eyes open and taste buds available.
The Yukon Culinary Festival aims to celebrate the many flavors that can be found in local food. With so many events taking place, food lovers may end up going into overload mode; not that that’s anything to complain about.
For a full list of events, and ticket information, visit www.tiayukon.com.