The Yukon Culinary Festival Tells a Story of the Yukon, Through Food

The Yukon is filled with culinary hidden gems, according to Eric Pateman. A culinary expert, Pateman had no idea how rich the Yukon food scene was until Debra Ryan, manager of strategic planning for Air North, finally persuaded him to visit. 

Now he is a main organizer of the Yukon Culinary Festival, running from August 19 to 21. 

The festival highlights local foods and culinary talent. The event is hosted by Air North and the Tourism Industry Association of Yukon (TIA).

Pateman runs a culinary tourism company in Vancouver. It took Ryan five years to convince Pateman to come to the territory. On his first visit, he couldn’t believe the produce and the variety of game meats and fish. He was also struck by the passion Yukon producers had for their food.

The Yukon food culinary scene epitomizes “everything that is local, seasonal and sustainable,” he says.

Pateman now also runs the annual Yukon Whiskey Weekends, hosted by chef Carson Schiffkorn and Canadian whisky expert Dave Mitton.

Now in its fourth year, the Yukon Culinary Festival allows growers and producers to celebrate what they do. 

In that time Pateman has seen an evolution. 

“Locals are learning to tell their story better,” he says. 

In previous years, the festival was seen as a way of bringing the outside into the Yukon. Now it’s a way of getting the story of the local food scene out.

The festival this year consists of four events. It starts off with the Ultimate Seafood Feast, co-sponsored by the East Coast Cultural Society. 

Billed as “The Battle of East vs. North”, the dinner features an array of seafood infused with northern flavours. There will also be live music, local brews and oysters from the Whitehorse-based pop-up outfit Wayfarer Oyster House. The dinner takes place at the Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre on Friday, August 19 at 7 p.m.

On Saturday, August 20, Fireweed Community Market turns into an outdoor tribute to local foods with growers, restauranteurs and food experts setting up shop. People can sample foods for $5 to $8 per dish.

On Saturday evening, Carson Schiffkorn of Inn on the Lake at Marsh Lake hosts a special heritage dinner based on an original menu from the S.S. Klondike. When Schiffkorn first saw the 1930s menu, he thought he had struck gold: The dishes represented the best of local foods from the Yukon; a genuine farm-to-table dinner.

Passionate about local food, Schiffkorn wanted to recreate a meal with these same dishes, updated for modern-day tastes. 

In white tents next to the sternwheeler, guests will dine by candlelight on oyster bisque served with birch-scented bannock, a tomato cup stuffed with Marsh Lake whitefish and sirloin of Yukon elk roast, among other delicacies. Guest chefs include Schiffkorn, Pateman, Genest, Marco Desmond from Starfire in Skagway and Troy King from Inn on the Lake. Yukon Brewing will provide its version of a prohibition cocktail. A Parks Canada interpreter will lead guests on a tour of the S.S. Klondike. The fun begins at 6:30 p.m.

On Sunday evening, The Inn on the Lake hosts a sumptuous multi-course dinner to conclude the festival. Twenty five tickets are available for this premium event. A shuttle will transport guests to and from Whitehorse.

Come to the Yukon Culinary Festival and celebrate the best of Yukon food. For more information, go to

If you had a “last meal” made with local ingredients, what would it be?

Premier Darrell Pasloski:

BBQ sheep from a hunting trip of his own, garden potatoes, peas and carrots, and the rhubarb crab-apple crisp that his lovely wife Tammie makes.

Sandy Silver, leader of the Yukon Liberals:

Moose tenderloin barely cooked over a camp fire, with morel mushrooms in wine sauce, veggies from Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in learning and working farm. Fresh blueberry pie for dessert.

Liz Hanson, leader of the Yukon NDP:

Arctic char, Swiss chard and potatoes. Prepared as simply as possible: grilled, steamed and fresh. Raspberries for dessert.

Larry Bagnell, MP:

Spruce tip appetizer, Yukon mountain sheep marinated in Yukon wheat beer with Yukon high-bush cranberry sauce, and Yukon lamb’s quarters vegetables. Beverage: Yukon scotch. Dessert: soapberry ice cream.

Carson Schiffkorn, owner of Inn on the Lake:

Leafy garden greens salad with fresh herbs,  wild, foraged mushrooms with roasted spruce and carmelized onions, King crab cooked in ocean saltwater + butter,  cheesecake with wild cranberries soaked in Yukon gin, sugar and garam masala       

Eric Pateman, owner of Edible Canada:

Elk heart tartare, wood-fire roasted moose tenderloin, wild mushrooms & cranberries, copious amounts of Yukon whiskey!

Dan Curtis, mayor of Whitehorse

Maple Bourbon Glazed Salmon with Sweet Cranberry Chutney and Salt Roasted Potatoes

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