PQ: Who were you working for in Italy (before returning to Araxi’s)?
JW: Robert Fowler, the Canadian ambassador in Rome (formerly ambassador to the U.N.) He wanted a Canadian chef. It is the only place doing Canadian cuisine. All the others do Italian.
PQ: Were the people who ate at the Ambassador’s residence responsive to your style of cooking?
JW: I think we were one of the biggest hits because we were very different from other embassies.
PQ: Did the European experience change your cooking style?
JW: Totally, 100 per cent. I’ve simplified things a bit and concentrate a bit more on ingredients.
PQ: What are the differences in attitude towards cuisine, diet, cooking and wine?
JW: It’s very regional. Everyone eats well and they are not overweight.
PQ: What was one of your most memorable meals there?
JW: We went out to La Trota, a restaurant in Rieti. It is rated a 2 Michelin Star restaurant. It was one of the best meals I’ve had.
PQ: What was the most memorable meal you served there?
JW: Probably the last one I did for the Governor General. It was one of the larger sit down functions I did: seven courses for 50 people. I was in Whistler when I planned the menu. I had already come home and it was one last hurrah for me in Italy. It was the best meal I did there. I took fresh supplies back with me. I served B.C. salmon and sable fish, which half of them had never had before. It was my head space too. I knew I was coming back home.
PQ: Where did you go for your last meal?
JW: We went with the ambassador and his assistant, who had become a good friend of my wife’s, to a small place next to the Colosseum.
PQ: Do you dream of opening your own restaurant?
JW: Jack (Evrensel) is incredible to work for. I don’t really feel the need to bust out. Maybe for myself I wouldn’t mind doing a small dining room within an Inn. The whole family could be involved.
PQ: What brought you back to Whistler?
JW: I just like it up here.