Chris Whittaker grows his own vegetables, catches his own fish (or tries to at least!), makes his own preserves, composts all of his food waste, keeps mason bees to pollinate his plants, hunts for the purpose of conserving our land and feeding his family, and forages to connect himself with nature and remind himself where our food often comes from. He grew up in the barren beauty of northwestern Ontario, but moved west in his 20’s to pursue a career as a professional chef. Forage is the restaurant he dreamed of working for when he packed his suitcase and headed west in 1999.
Located in the Listel Hotel, on trendy Robson Street right next door to the gastro pub, Timber, Chris’s second restaurant and within a lovely walk to Stanley Park, forage is really taking local food to the next stage of its reality in Vancouver, a city which led the way for years in the understanding of WHY one would eat locally.
“Wild ingredients are the dictators of when seasons begin and end. When you run a restaurant that is ingredient driven and those first signs of spring foraging come into the kitchen everyone gets excited.” Says forage’s Chef Chris Whittaker. Working with our in-house fermenter Chef plans the preservation of local food out of season but looks forward to the freshness of BC’s spring, summer and fall harvest.
Equal parts savoury delight and nostalgic comfort food, the foraged & cultivated nushrooms with Okanagan goat cheese is a staple for Vancouver locals. Chef Whittaker uses his grandmother’s recipe for the caraway rye bread that comes with those tasty mushrooms. There’s smoked duck breast with compressed knotweed and Turtle Valley Ranch bison in various cuts (think rib eye, flat iron or braised bison short ribs depending on the day) gets a delicious foraged green chimichurri. With a menu that changes weekly, you’re always celebrating local BC flavours any day of the year.
From bowls of BC spot prawns in a seasonal chowder and smoked albacore tuna with blackberry & fir jelly to iron-grilled Pacific Provider salmon with ‘bread ‘n butter’ sea asparagus and pickled huckleberries, his menus are a testament to the bounty of the Pacific Northwest. Hazelnuts that grow in profusion in the Fraser River Valley find their way into the caramel basted pain perdu and you’ll taste BC apples in his pie with black pepper (I’m going to try that one) crust and quince jelly.
forage is one of about 250 restaurants that celebrate Food Day across Canada. Contact them at the number below.
forage est l’un des 250 restaurants à travers tout le Canada qui participent au Journée des terroirs .
1300 Robson Street
Vancouver, BC V6E 1C5
Photos by Welbert Choi.