Winery Dinners And Chef Table Luncheons

Once upon a time November was regarded as slow season in Whistler; that in-between stage when the air gets its cold bite, the trees have all but shed their last leaves and everyone is simply waiting for the snow to fall, the mountains to open and winter to burst into action.

Now, Whistler in November brings sweet aromas of decadent dining, sounds of pints being poured and champagne bottles being popped and the endless cheers and laughter coming from Whistler eateries. November in Whistler has become synonymous with culinary mastery thanks to Cornucopia – presented by BlueShore Financial, now celebrating 19 delicious years of food and drink.

Cornucopia’s ever-expanding epicurean schedule offers a medley of Winemakers Dinners, Chef Table Luncheons, Nourish events, Culinary Stage Series, beer, wine and spirits seminars, as well as a variety of gala tastings and after-dark parties throughout the festival’s colossal 11 days, November 5-15. From exotic spices to French fare, from Dom Pérignon to the Barossa Valley – Cornucopia is serving spectacular cuisine with expertly paired wines at the much-loved winemaker dinners.

Brand new this year is the Basalt: Fairview From Here winemaker dinner, presenting a seasonal, four-course dinner with wine pairings from Fairview Cellars, one of the South Okanagan’s boutique estates.
Local restaurateurs – new to last year’s festival – return to Cornucopia this year: Creekside’s Red Door Bistro with its classic Tightrope Winery dinner series (November 12 and 13), as well as Stonesedge, with the highly anticipated Perseus Winery dinner, November 5. The Perseus multi-course dinner, not only allows guests the chance to sit, sip and sample with Craig Mackenzie – acting GM of Perseus Winery – but is priced to sell at just $65.

Seasoned Whistler restaurateurs return to Cornucopia with a selection of their finest creations, alongside signature B.C. and international wines, in perfect (food and wine) harmony. Four Seasons Whistler partners their signature restaurant, Sidecut Modern Steak + Bar with local Lillooet winery, Fort Berens for a four-course winemaker dinner, sure to please even the toughest of critics. The Indian Masala Bistro pairs exotic spices from India with matching wines and colourful belly dancing – truly a feast for the senses. The dinner series at the Chateau couples delectable multi-course long-table dinners from hotel restaurant, the Grill Room with a variety of memorable wineries. Nita lake Lodge’s Into the Wild winemaker dinner is an epic culinary collaboration of Chef Jefferson Alvarez and Chef Dean Hossack with accompanying wines from Stags Hollow. The Bearfoot Bistro’s Executive Chef Melissa Craig is once again pairing her creative efforts alongside some of the best vintages of Dom Pérignon. This exclusive and highly-indulgent six-course soiree is held in the intimate setting of Bearfoot Bistro’s wine cellar.

There’s nothing wrong with healthy competition right? The all-star team at Rimrock Café in Creekside not only agrees, but encourages guests to partake in the ‘friendly fight’ for wine supremacy at The Bench Vs. The Bluff. This competitive four-course dinner features wine pairings from Painted Rock and Poplar Grove wineries, with the “winner” announced at the evenings end.

Last but certainly not least, Araxi returns with the annual sell-out event, Big Guns Dinner, as well as the popular return of their Intimate Winery Dinner Series, featuring the creations of one of Canada’s leading chefs, James Walt alongside a number of B.C.’s  most food-focused (and delicious) wines.

Prefer a long (boozy) lunch over dinner service? Cornucopia has you covered with an impressive selection of luncheons on this year’s menu.

Tour Whistler’s most enviable private homes, with fine wine and culinary mastery in toe at the Chef’s Table Luncheons. Featured B.C. hot-spots and chefs L’Abattoir, The Sonora Room, Liquidity, Minami and Chef Luis Valenzuela will showcase their supreme talent during Cornucopia’s Luncheons.

Nourish is back with a sequence of educational and informational luncheons such as Healing Foods Brunch; Lithic: Primal Kitchen Lunch; Raw Food Brunch and more.

Cornucopia’s flagship tasting event, CRUSH Grand Tasting packs a big punch this year with a huge line-up of wineries offering samples, as well as a few of Whistler’s finest chefs preparing snacks to compliment the ever-flowing wine. A gentle reminder for CRUSH attendees, that there’s more wine then food to be enjoyed – thank goodness – so dine ahead to ensure a great night out.

Package your accommodation with event tickets to receive rates exclusive to Enjoy an incredible CRUSH + Cellar Door + Accommodation Package From $129 per person, per night. Check out these exclusive deals HERE.

Expertise Abounds At Cornucopia’s Culinary Stage

With such incredible talent stepping up to Cornucopia’s Culinary Stage, it makes picking and choosing events that much harder. Of course, the best case scenario will find you attending the entire series. However, in case this isn’t an option, here’s a brief run-down of a few of the personalities you can see at this year’s Culinary Stage Series.

Campbell River born Derek Dammann is the embodiment of working your way up the ladder. From humble beginnings working as a dishwasher, Dammann worked his way to head chef and co-owner (with non-other than former boss, current friend and celebrity Chef Jamie Oliver) at the popular Maison Publique in Montreal – not a bad resume by any means!

Dammann and Canadian food writer Chris Johns joined forces to produce the True North: Canadian Cuisine from Coast to Coast cookbook. Launching November 3, the cookbook is as rugged and authentic as the land it celebrates. Of Dammann, Jaime Oliver writes,

Damn, that boy can cook.
I really think he’s up there with some of the absolute best chefs in the world.”

When asked what the audience can expect at the True North Culinary Stage, Dammann answers: “Both Chris and myself are proud Canadians, so we’re really trying to showcase the beautiful ingredients this country has to offer through our eyes.” See Dammann and Johns at True Northwhere raw talent meets Canadiana grit.

Robbie Kane, owner of Vancouver hotspot Café Medina, joins the all-star guest list at Cornucopia’s Culinary Stage Series. Kane and Chef Deniz Tarakcioglu take guests behind-the-scenes for a glimpse at what makes the café’s signature Mediterranean-inspired cuisine one of the most in-demand stops on Vancouver’s bustling restaurant circuit. Boasting a number of accolades, including winner of Best Brunch and Best Breakfast at the 2015 Georgia Straight Golden Plate Awards, being named one of the Top 50 Restaurants in Canada 2015 by – catch Café Medina November 8, when it brings its gastronomic genius to Whistler for the Make Mine Mediterranean Culinary Stage Series.

For the sixth year running, Cornucopia’s much-loved Edible Canada takes the Culinary Stage, featuring dishes that pair well with Canadian-inspired cocktails. Edible Canada President, Eric Pateman, and Chef de Cuisine, Alvin Pillay, will prepare three dishes celebrating cultural influences from East, West and Central Canada, paired with expertly-crafted cocktails. As always, the sessions will be filled with discussion and debate around what is Canadian cuisine, can it be defined, and what does the future hold? In true Edible Canada fashion, all dishes will be gluten free and at some point, duck fat will be involved!

From commis to head chef, Dan Hayes, has worked with talented chefs in numerous high-end and Michelin-starred restaurants. Now, Hayes and wife Micayla are the dynamic duo behind The London Chef – Micayla running the business and Dan running the kitchen. Hayes has taught cookery all over the UK, has food-styled with one of Britain’s top food photography companies, and consulted on the development and opening of restaurants in London and the Canary Isles. Secure your seat at this must-see event, when The London Chef takes on Cornucopia’s Culinary Stage.

Alana Peckham, a born and raised Vancouverite, studied at the Dubrulle International Culinary Arts institute. Her culinary talent was recently recognized on the Food Network’s program: Chopped Canada, when she won the three-course mystery ingredient challenge. While her cooking style is grounded in the traditional French culinary techniques adopted at Dubrulle, her cultural heritage as a Chinese Canadian is a definite influence. Known for her longstanding commitment for using only the freshest and best ingredients, Peckham was naturally drawn to work with Alligga, an all-Canadian flaxseed distributor. See the Chopped Canada champion at A Canape Party with Alligga and Chef Alana Peckham.

Dammann, Johns, Kane, Tarakcioglu, Pateman, Pillay, Hayes and Peckham are just a taste of the high-calibre talent on the bill at this year’s Culinary Stage Series. But it doesn’t end there, see the remaining all-stars when they take the stage, including: Pembytopia, Wine and Cheese with the Dairy Farmers of Canada, The Best of Lillooet, Beer and Cheese Workshop with the Dairy Farmers of Canada and Cicerone vs. Sommelier.

Secure your seat when Whistler rolls out the red carpet for the Culinary Stage Series, November 5-15.

Jack, Jim Or Johnny – Gin, Vodka Or Bourbon: Choose Your Own Adventure At Cornucopia

Cornucopia, presented by BlueShore Financial is stirring up some fun this November with an array of thirst-quenching spirit tastings, seminars and parties to be enjoyed. From mixology sessions to Single Malt Seduction and Bourbon Country seminars – Cornucopia is placing liquor in the lime-light, to reveal the supreme talent in B.C. and the local Sea to Sky region.

Poured: The Full Spectrum of Taste is Cornucopia’s most all-encompassing drink event. Experience the full spectrum of flavour as you sip a 50 year old whisky from Europe, an expertly crafted B.C. beer, a Canadian cider or a fine wine from the world’s topmost regions. Anchoring the second Saturday of Cornucopia, Poured is a spirited night of music and revelry, with accompanying delicious bites from a variety of vendors. Tickets include a souvenir glass and five tasting tokens, with additional tokens available. Shop Poured HERE.

Cornucopia pays tribute to gin, not only as an instrumental piece of the ever-evolving mixology puzzle, but as a quality, standalone spirit. Being such a versatile liquor, gin has found its place at the well of every bar. Be it Hendricks or Tanqueray, gin and juice or gin and tonic, the old-world spirit has established itself as a globally-recognized staple drink order. Join Shaun Layton and Chris Funnell at the Gin Unplugged seminar, where their pure and simple mission is to break the stigma around gin; leading a guided tasting and discussion on a wide-range of gins with various flavour profiles.

Bourbon or whisky? At Cornucopia, we say BOTH! Chris Funnell, a familiar face on the whisky (or whiskey) circuit, leads the Bourbon Country and Whisky Evolution seminars. In the battle to bourbon supremacy there are two majority contenders: Kentucky and New Orleans. Explore the controversial history of bourbon, and why so many are eager to lay claim to the spirit’s origins, while sampling six to eight exceptional bourbons.
The evolution of whisky is one dependent on its area of origin – differing from country to country. However, what remains consistent is the often sizzling mix of rebellion, taxes, perseverance, and entrepreneurial spirit. Explore the flavours and characters that define whisky in places such as Ireland, Scotland, the USA, Japan, India, and Canada, tasting six to eight high-quality, small-batch whiskies from around the globe.

Pemberton – Whistler’s neighboring community to the north – is home to some of British Columbia’s most committed producers and growers. It’s only natural that the area nurtures hugely-popular businesses like Mile One Eating House and Pemberton Distillery. Both locally owned and adored businesses will again bring their expertise to Whistler for Pembytopia (November 7), running as part of Cornucopia’s Culinary Stage Series.
Randy Jones, owner and Chef at Mile One Eating House and Tyler Schramm, owner and master-distiller at Pemberton Distillery led this collaborative seminar bringing their extensive knowledge, experience and passion for creating high quality local food and drink to the table.

We caught up with Lorien Schramm, Tyler’s wife and business partner, for an insight into how Pemberton Distillery came to be, and what influences have shaped Master Distiller, Tyler Schramm’s organic, handcrafted spirits.

  1. How important is using local produce at Pemberton Distillery?

Using local produce is very important to us. The Pemberton potato is the original reason behind starting the distillery. We use local Pemberton and Sea to Sky potatoes, fruits, grains and herbs in all our spirits. It’s a way of adding value to the agriculture around us, supporting other local businesses and farms and reducing the need for extensive shipping. We can drive about 15-kilometres down the road and pick up 95% of our ingredients. Additionally, we love offering our customers a distinctive product with truly local terroir, one that is absolutely unique to our region.

  1. How did you end up owning/operating a distillery? Give a brief explanation to how you got to where you are today?

Tyler Schramm and his brother originally had the idea while looking into a way to add value to Pemberton potatoes. In researching the idea further, Tyler completed his Masters of Science in Brewing & Distilling at Heriot Watt University in Scotland. While there, he was able to perfect his recipes for potato vodka on the school’s pilot stills and also had the opportunity to taste many flavourful potato vodkas brought over by his Polish classmates.
Upon realizing that Vodka was more than just a neutral spirit we were inspired to create a sipping style Vodka. Coming back to Canada, Tyler and his brothers Jonathan and Jake built the distillery themselves in 2008 and we started distilling in 2009. We started with a program of producing potato Vodka in the winter and Whisky over the summer, which works perfectly with the seasonality of potato farming here in Pemeberton, BC. From our Vodka we started creating new takes on old classic spirits like Gin, Absinthe and Liqueurs etc. 

  1. What spirit are you most passionate about?

Our organic potato Vodka was our first spirit and is a classic Pemberton spirit – made from local Pemberton potatoes, grown at Across the Creek Organics Farm, a fourth generation potato farm here. It’s a classic old world, sipping style Vodka with lots of character and terroir. From the beginning we knew we wanted to produce a Vodka representative of this Valley and what it’s famous for, not just a neutral Vodka that could have been made anywhere.  
We are also passionate about Whisky. It is such a rewarding spirit to make in that it changes drastically during the aging process – from an intense, fiery new make spirit right from the still to mellowing out and being refined over years in the cask. It requires patience, but the waiting is worth every drop, and very much part of the allure. We are starting to work more with local famers to source organic small lot grains and doing our own micro-malting and smoking at the distillery which is very exciting.  

  1. What makes Pemberton Distilled spirits unique or different to competing products?

We are the only certified organic distillery in British Columbia and one of very few in North America. This means that we not only use organic ingredients but our process is organic as well – we don’t use any synthetic additives, GMO products or commercial enzymes in our mash, fermentation nor chemicals at any stage of our production.
Our spirits are unique in that we work hard to create products that are distinctive and really showcase and represent our region. Our goal is always to create a high quality spirit that provides our customers with a unique and enjoyable experience. 

  1. What inspires you when creating a new craft spirit?

What is abundant and local in our area inspires us the most – whether its fruits, grains, herbs, wild botanicals, honey. All the ideas for our spirits come from what is growing around us. We enjoy making spirits that showcase what you can find here in the natural world. 

Pemberton Distillery’s organic, handcrafted and locally-produced spirits are a must taste at this year’s Cornucopia. Catch Pemberton Distillery at House Party, With a Twist, Pembytopia and more

Looking forward to trying it all?  The Cornucopia Liquor Store will be on-site for the entire 11 days of Cornucopia. This is your chance to sip and savour, find a new favourite and then take it home.

Package your accommodation with event tickets to receive rates exclusive to Enjoy an incredible CRUSH + Cellar Door + Accommodation Package From $129 per person, per night. Check out these exclusive deals HERE.

Cornucopia Offers Something For Every Taste And Budget

At Cornucopia, even a small budget gets you a BIG experience.

Enjoy a variety of top-notch wine seminars for less, from Foxtrot Winery: A Passion For Pinot, to You Say Shiraz & I say Syrah, from Wine & Chocolate: Friends With Benefits, to Bubble-icious – the options are endless. And with prices as low as $29, uncovering your next favourite wine is that much easier.

Learning at Cornucopia is affordable and easy with fundamental wellness seminars, including the Building a Healthy Body Lunch, Yoga and Meditation, or Fermented Foods Lunch starting from just $15.

With all events in the Culinary Stage Series priced at $40, guests can pick and choose from a surplus of options. Join accredited Chef Alana Peckham as she creates mouthwatering cuisine using healthy and natural ingredients at A Canape Party With Alligga, or team up with the Diary Farmers of Canada as they uncover the most popular pairing of all – Wine and Cheese.

With a number of Cornucopia’s most celebrated gala tastings and parties starting at just $45, guests can experience Cornucopia Night Market: Taste of the World, House Party and POURED: The Full Spectrum of Taste without breaking the budget. Alternatively, uncover the mythology and mystique of mixology at With a Twist, and Gin Unplugged starting at $35.

Hey Big Spender…

If diamonds are a girl’s best friend, Cornucopia is where you show-off those sparkling gems. Cornucopia is the ideal setting to live the high life, indulging in divine luxuries. Want to live the life of the rich and famous? Cornucopia has you covered.

The Nourish Retreat at Cornucopia will fuel the body, stimulate the mind and feed the spirit. Greet each day with meditation and yoga, then fuel the body with healing local foods prepared by inspired chefs and experts at the Nourish Culinary Stage.  Spend the afternoons connecting with Whistler’s awe-inspiring rain forest, exploring the rich history and traditions of the Squamish and Lil’wat First Nations, and top it off caring deeply for the body, mind and spirit with spa treatments. This complete package of health and wellness programming offers guests three nights and four days dedicated to their wellbeing.

Champagne Secrets with secret location and Veuve Clicquot is an exclusive and decadent evening of dining, fashion and champagne. Guests will enjoy early VIP entry into Secret Location’s pop-up concept store at Nita Lake Lodge with accompanying champagne reception, five-course champagne dinner hosted by Chef Dean Hossack of Aura, Chef Montgomery Lau of Secret Location and Veuve Clicquot, as well as entry to the Veuve Clicquot Yellow Party at Cure Lounge and Patio.

Tour Whistler’s most enviable private properties with masterful chefs in toe at Cornucopia’s Chef Table Luncheons. Enjoy a West Coast, seasonally-inspired multi-course dining extravaganza, prepared by critically-acclaimed chefs, and teamed with expert sommelier wine pairings, with all the creature comforts of being at home. Chef Table Luncheon presents gourmet dining in a secret locale.

Cornucopia Dollar Savers…

Cornucopia and have teamed up to provide guests a bigger bang for their buck with incredible stay and play packages. Combine accommodation and event tickets to receive the best prices guaranteed. From Poured + accommodation, CRUSH + accommodation, Cellar Door + accommodation, or CRUSH + Cellar Door + accommodation packages available the options are bountiful. Check out the combo’s as low as $89! Get your party package here.

Cornucopia Puts Its Best ‘Vintage’ Forward Announcing The Festival’s Top 25 Wines

Cornucopia, presented by BlueShore Financial lives up to its name, featuring a surplus of wine selections to sip, swirl, savour and salivate over throughout the 11 dedicated days of food + drink. The festival features more than 200 tantalizing events, seminars, tastings, parties and demonstrations for guests to relish.
Last week, an expert panel of 10 esteemed wine industry leaders got together in a closed-door, blind tasting to determine the Top 25 wines of Cornucopia 2015 – dream job alert!  The competition pits the best of the best against each other to reveal the most outstanding wines of the festival.
Taking the top three spots at Cornucopia’s Top 25 competition are:
– Top Bubble: Blue Mountain Vineyard and Cellars Gold Label Brut
– Top White: C.C. Jentsch Cellars Small Lot Barrel Fermented Chardonnay, 2014
– Top Red: MASI Campofiorin, 2011
For the complete Top 25 results CLICK HERE.
How best to celebrate the Cornucopia’s Top 25? Taste them, of course!
We recommend starting the Celebrations with Cornucopia’s Top Bubble, Blue Mountain Gold Label Brut. Crafted by Winemaker Matt Mavety in the Methode Traditionnelle style, this sparkler has a fine mousse, with lemon and toasty character on the nose and across the palate, with a crisp lemon finish.
The wonderfully talented winemaker Amber Pratt, of C.C. Jentsch Cellars in B.C. is celebrating the incredible Top White win, stating “Cornucopia is highly regarded as one of the longest running promoters of amazing B.C. Wine and food, and as such, this is particularly special to be ranked this highly among so many of B.C.’s high quality and respected white wines”.
The Small Lot Barrel Fermented Chardonnay, 2014 is a dream vintage, which screams to be paired with seafood. The tasting notes include refreshing, steely, lemony fruit-kissed, with the nutmeg and vanilla qualities of premium oak. A definite must try at Cornucopia’s CRUSH Grand Gala Tasting event, Nov 7.
Cornucopia’s Top Red was awarded to MASI Campofiorin 2011. Masi has a long-established family history dating back to the 1950’s, where Masi was a pioneer in Italy of the concept of cru, or “single vineyard” wines – meaning wine produced from a single vineyard, with that vineyard’s name appearing on the wine label.

Masi Campofiorin notes attractive hints of cherries, cloves and vanilla. The well-balanced wine features soft and silky tannins, an attractive fruitiness on the palate, supported by good acidity offering a long, lingering finish.

Paula White, Senior Marketing Manager of Authentic Wine & Spirits Merchants explains the Masi Campofiorin as a very versatile wine, stating the wine is “perfect with many different foods such as pizza or pasta with rich sauces or meat sauce and mushrooms. It pairs well with grilled or roasted red meats, game and mature cheeses”.

Raffaele Boscaini, from the MASI family will be attending Cornucopia this year, hosting two seminars, as well as An Enchanting Evening with Masi Winemakers Dinner.
Are you thirsty yet? Be quick and grab your ticket to CRUSH Grand Gala Tasting, Cornucopia’s flagship tasting event, where you can personally put all 25 winning wines through the ultimate taste test.

In summary, we leave you with the fine words of Robert Mondavi: “Wine to me is passion. It’s family and friends. It’s warmth of heart and generosity of spirit. Wine is art. It’s culture. It’s the essence of civilization and the art of living”.

We woud like to extend a huge thank you to our expert panel of judges:
DJ Kearney
Daenna Van Mulligen
David Stansfield
Iain Philip
Judith Lane
Kurtis Kolt
Michael Kompass
Michaela Morris
Samantha Rahn
Sid Cross