The Yukon Culinary Festival sounds like a good way to celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary.
“The definition of Canadian cuisine that we use is local, seasonal, sustainable ingredients in the hands of many cultures,” says Eric Pateman, the festival’s main organizer. “This being Canada’s 150th, we have an opportunity to tell this story through the food.”
Canadian cuisine is difficult to pin down. We are a multicultural country, with multicultural cuisine. The First Nations have a long tradition of dishes made with food harvested from the wild. Today, according to Pateman, there are no rules. “You can combine Thai, Japanese and First Nations in a dish, and nobody bats an eye.”
The Festival starts on Thursday, August 24 and runs through Saturday, August 26, and will highlight foods harvested from the Yukon wild or grown here by our farmers.
The festival begins on Thursday with cooking demos by local chefs at the Fireweed Community Market, and ramps up with the official kickoff party at 7p.m Thursday night at the Woodcutter’s Blanket.
The Ultimate Seafood Feast, taking place on Friday at 7 p.m. at Kwanlin Dun Cultural Centre, will feature flavours from a variety of cultures including First Nations.
Those who attended last year’s festival will remember the Ultimate Seafood Feast, a blow-out buffet that featured East Coast lobster with gnocchi and Alaskan spot prawns spiced with garam masala.
This year’s menu is just as tempting: Alaskan mussel boil with local game sausage, corn and potatoes, dungeness crab segments with five-spice drawn butter and local greens, and a selection of fish including sockeye salmon stuffed with wild Yukon herbs and a morel duxelle.
The event will also feature the local flavour of Yukon Brewing beers.
Last year’s Seafood Feast sold out and organizers have doubled the size of the event this year.
New to the Yukon Culinary Festival this year is the Cocktails, Canapes and Costumes event on Saturday at 6 p.m.
In previous years, dinners were held on the grounds outside the SS Klondike. This year, guests dressed in their Yukon best will dine on a host of appetizers and finger foods aboard the SS Klondike itself.
Tickets are selling quickly. Chefs Carson Schiffkorn and Troy King of Inn on the Lake, located at Marsh Lake, have designed the menu. Schiffkorn has been intimately involved with the festival since it began five years ago. Traditional Yukon food is centred around wild ingredients such as spruce tips and game meat. With that in mind Schiffkorn is developing a “Yukon menu” with dishes that are unique to the territory such as chimichurri sauce made with mustard greens or radish pods.
The Yukon Culinary Festival’s growth is a sign of the flourishing local food scene here. According to Schiffkorn, the culinary arts are “…the thread that binds and pulls us all together as Yukoners.”
For more information about the festival or to buy tickets go to YukonCulinary.ca.
I Ate it Here and it was Awesome
We asked people involved with this year’s Yukon Culinary Festival what their most memorable meal has been here in the Yukon.
Chef Miche Genest, author of The Boreal Gourmet (2010) and The Boreal Feast (2014)
My most memorable meal was moose ribs braised in Yukon Brewing’s Midnight Sun Espresso Stout. I cooked them for Cathie Archbould and her partner Jak – it was the first time I’d cooked moose for the hunter who’d caught it, and it set me on the path to learning how to cook game properly.
I still love that recipe because of the collaboration at the heart of it – the cook and the hunter, the brewer and the coffee roaster, the wild, beautiful meat and the finely-crafted local beer. For me it represents all that is good and inspiring in Yukon food.
Chef Troy King of Inn on the Lake
I’ve been a chef in the Yukon for just over a year now and I’ve got lots of great food memories… cooking arctic char over an open fire in a dog sledding camp, foraging for mushrooms and salad fixings with world famous chef Jeremy Charles, [being] asked to cook bison while being filmed for a TV spot.
Chef Ayla Smith of the Woodcutters’ Blanket
My most memorable meal was when I was a child and ate the first fish I ever caught. It was a lake trout and It was accompanied by garden vegetables from my mother’s garden. I ate the entire thing to myself and was so satisfied by the fact that I caught and gutted it myself.
Larissa Lychenko, Market Manager for the Fireweed Community Market
My favourite meal with local ingredients was a homemade caribou ramen featuring kale and bok choy from my garden and sprouts from my window sill. The broth was made from a split femur, slow cooked for two days. The caribou was gifted to me from a friend’s hunting trip. It made such a delicious rich ramen broth!!