Being the executive chef of one of Whistler's busiest hotels is not usually a laid-back job.
As the executive chef at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler, Kreg Graham knows this all too well.
Graham took a break from his latest large-scale endeavour — cooking for the delegates at this week's Mountain Travel Symposium — to talk about dining on a more casual scale.
The Fairmont Chateau Whistler Golf Club is getting set for an early opening on April 24.
"We've got our menu ready to go. We're very excited about it," Graham says.
"There's lots of new dishes on it as well."
But it's not the type of ritzy, high-class dining you might find in the hotel — The Clubhouse allows Graham to have some fun with the menu offerings.
"It's definitely a little bit more of a casual environment and the golfers are always in good spirits after they've finished a round of golf," he says.
"I don't think they're necessarily easier to please, but it's a more casual menu. It's really fresh and fun."
The menu at the Fairmont's Clubhouse — refined and reworked before each season — takes a lighthearted approach to food offerings.
After your day on the course you can fill up with a Steak Sand-Wedge, a Chip-in Cheeseburger or a Pro-Shop Poutine.
There's also the Foursome Nachos if you're into sharing.
"There's a lot of sharing items," Graham says. "There's a lot of dishes that are a little bit more filling after a game of golf that are sort of more typical of what you would find at a golf club."
But the perennial favourite shouldn't come as much of a surprise.
"The club sandwich is going to be a very popular item. It always is," Graham says.
"And burgers are always top selling. We've got a really beautiful wild B.C. salmon burger that we're putting on this year with some wasabi aioli and watercress and stuff like that. It's really tasty."
All of the dishes served at the Fairmont's venues are complemented by its rooftop herb garden. The 2,700-square-foot terrace grows 20 different types of perennials, including winter savory, chamomile, lemon thyme, rhubarb, garlic and chocolate mint.
Each season, the Fairmont's head gardener Jennifer O'Rourke experiments with growing new varieties of produce — from candy-striped beets and swiss chard to blueberries, strawberries and grapes.
Last summer, the Fairmont welcomed some new guests to the garden — 120,000 European Honey Bees that helped pollinate the flowers while simultaneously producing a delicate wildflower honey used by the Fairmont's chefs.
"We've got our honey from 2014 that's ready to go this year, and we've included in it quite a number of our dishes that we have throughout the hotel as well as the clubhouse," Graham says.
The beehives are a popular feature at Fairmont hotels, Graham says.
"The flavour of the honey comes from the local flora, which is really interesting," he says.
"We have a beekeeper who comes in and does it and it's really interesting to learn some of the things about the bees and the honey."
For example, the bees will travel up to three kilometres in their quest to pollinate the local wildflowers.
This summer the Fairmont's army of bees will triple in comparison to last year's numbers, with 360,000 bees working in 12 different hives.
Graham says their product will be on full display at the Clubhouse this year in his Baby Back Nine Ribs.
"We have a really nice barbecue sauce that we make with chipotle and the rooftop honey, and we put a little bit of mustard seed from the garden as well," he says.
You can take a shot at it at home using the recipe on the next page (though you'll have to find your own source of honey), or you can let Graham and his team serve it up for you after a round at the Fairmont Golf Club starting April 24.Baby Back-Nine Ribs
With our roof-top wildflower honey and chipotle BBQ Sauce
1 cup ketchup
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 cup white vinegar
½ cup molasses
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup Fairmont Chateau Whistler's roof-top wildflower honey
½ tsp salt
2 cloves garlic
1 medium white onion
2 tbsp olive oil
1 chipotle pepper, dried
2 racks pork back ribs
For the barbecue sauce, begin by rehydrating the chipotle pepper in warm water overnight.
The next day mince the onion and garlic and reserve.
In a medium saucepan over low heat, add the olive oil and mustard seeds for two minutes then garlic, onion and salt. Slowly cook until translucent.
Add the molasses, brown sugar, honey, vinegar, ketchup and the chopped chipotle to the pot and cook for one hour or until thickened to barbecue sauce consistency.
Marinate the uncooked ribs in the chilled barbecue sauce overnight, then place in a covered pan with 3 tbsp of water. Cook in a pre-heated 300 F oven for three hours.
Remove when almost "fall off the bone" tender.
Glaze with more barbecue sauce and grill on the barbecue over medium heat until the sauce is gently caramelized.