Brooke Fader and Oliver Kienast have no interest in food fads or chasing the latest trend in restaurants.
Instead, the proprietors of Sooke’s Wild Mountain restaurant were recently awarded VanMAG’s Gold medal for restaurants in Greater Victoria by following a very different philosophy.
“We’re proud members of the Slow Food movement. It’s an approach that emphasizes sourcing food directly from local producers and working to maintain local food cultures and traditions,” Fader said.
She said because the restaurant sources its ingredients from seasonal local growers and producers, its menu is constantly changing.
“That’s the fun of it,” Fader said. “It’s a return to a more natural way of eating that appreciates what is being produced at any given time.”
That use of local products is augmented by an approach that ensures that every part of the plants and animals are used, sometimes through strategies like pickling and other times by relegating some portions to what Fader describes as “truly amazing staff meals.”
“I’ll give you an example of not wasting anything,” Fader said. “We make our own hot sauces, but when you’re done you have this pulp left over. We dry that and make our own chili powder.”
Wild Mountain (a name that honours Kienast’s family honey farm in the Okanagan) sources its food from about 80 local farms and producers.
“At one we might get only duck eggs. At another, we’ve found the sweetest strawberries. We take the best from the region and then Oliver and Scott (sous chef Scott Wood) think on the fly to put together a fantastic menu for the night,” Fader said.
Receiving the Gold Award came as a surprise, but Fader credited the local producers and the people of Sooke for making their restaurant a success.
“At a time when fast food outlets have done such a great job in attracting people to the convenience and speed of getting something to eat, we’re happy to be on the other side of the dining experience. We’re giving people a chance to reconnect with their local community and experience the tastes of real food … slow food,” Fader said.
“Let’s face it. This is what food is supposed to be. It’s healthier, of course, and it just tastes better.”