Salt Fall/Winter 2014 - page 23

Close proximity to farms often
determines the location of the restaurant.
Such as the case for British-born Daniel
Hudson — an alumnus of Vancouver’s
DB Bistro and Lumiere, and Top Chef
Canada star. He chose the Cowichan
Valley to open his eponymous restaurant,
Hudson’s on First.
“My wife and I knew one day we’d do
something in the Valley,” says Hudson,
who appreciates living in the Island’s
banana belt, where everything from
heirloom apples and wine grapes to
asparagus, wild mushrooms, and free-
range chickens flourish.
“Code’s Corner [farm] is just 10
minutes away — I’m spoiled with the
choices I have,” he says, describing the
vegetarian pine mushroom risotto with
crispy organic egg on tonight’s menu.
“The produce tastes as it should,
everything full of flavour and vibrancy. It’s
a pleasure to work with.”
Farther up Island in the Comox
Valley, being able to meet with and talk
to producers in person is important to
chef Aaron Rail at Avenue Bistro. He
collaborates with local farmers and fishers
for a menu that includes beer-battered
local oysters from Hollie Wood, house-
smoked wild sockeye salmon, and local
duck confit with wild chanterelle mushrooms.
Similarly, at Locals Restaurant, chef Ronald
St. Pierre, celebrates all things Island with
a menu that ranges from breakfast crepes
rolled with B.C. salmon and Little Qualicum
Cheeseworks fromage frais to wild shrimp
and crab with Eatmore Sprouts and Nature
Springs wasabi. Photos of local farmers and
fishers decorate his dining room and St. Pierre
tells their stories, “to celebrate the uniqueness
of the Comox Valley and close the consumer-
producer gap.”
“I’ve spent more than 20 years working with
farmers to try to educate people about what’s
available around here,” says the pioneering
chef who serves Estevan Tuna, Tannadice
Farm pork, Island Bison, Quackery duck, and
Whaletown Bay oysters, all washed down
with local wines, mead, and Island-made
craft beer.
“If you buy good ingredients, you eat good
food,” he adds, delivering a perfect dish of
house-smoked duck with winter spinach and
arugula.
Eating good local food prepared by chefs
who know how to bring out its unique
flavours — that’s really what Island dining is
all about.
S
Bill Jones is the chef/owner at Deerholme Farm
in the Cowichan Valley where he holds lavish
dinners, cooking classes, and foraging events.
Jeffrey Bosdet/Salt Magazine
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