It should come as no surprise that Dominic Fortin loves chocolate.
Chocolate is the favourite ingredient of the executive pastry chef at the Bearfoot Bistro. While chocolate might seem like an obvious favourite Fortin is adventurous and he doesn't hesitate to stray way off the traditional list of sweet ingredients most pastry chefs use. He's got some not-so-obvious ingredients planned for the summer dessert menu at the Bistro.
Before we discuss that, a look back is required. Fortin was trained in Quebec City where he grew up and spent a few years apprenticing at fine dining restaurants in his home city. He finished his pastry apprenticeship at the Sooke Harbour House on Vancouver Island, the renowned establishment with menus that change daily due to a commitment to use ingredients from the southwestern coast of Vancouver Island.
Fortin worked in Banff, went back to Quebec for a short time, then eventually made his way up Vancouver Island to spend some time at the Wickaninnish Inn. He spent about a year at Tofino's famed storm-watching venue before moving to Whistler to take on the executive chef job at the Bearfoot Bistro.
"I like creativity a lot," says Fortin. "I get bored really quickly. Pastry is really technical, more than cooking."
He says pastry making has rules, but playing with those rules keeps his creativity front and centre, as he works his magic at the Bistro.
"If you look at my menu right now we have nine desserts on it, four of them are made with chocolate," says Fortin. "I use a lot of French chocolate."
Before a dish makes it onto the Bearfoot menu he spends a few months refining it. This is the creativity he mentioned. He and his team of four change the dessert menu frequently. When he first started, he explains, the tasting menu changed daily. But he has shifted a bit and now changes the tasting menu with less frequency, but the main items change at least four times a year.
The team of four people working with Fortin to make the pastries is one of the larges pastry teams in Whistler. Fortin says he needs a big team because he's also in charge of making all the bread for the restaurant.
The Bearfoot isn't necessarily known as a dessert restaurant but some customers do come just for the pastries prepared by Fortin and his team.
"Sometimes we have, in the winter, people who come just for dessert," says Fortin. "They have dinner somewhere then come here for dessert. People will come for the natural ice cream that we do with liquid nitrogen. There's people who hear about that or they see about it on the Internet and they want that."