The Bearfoot Bistro, one of the restaurants instrumental to Cornucopia’s international recognition, closes its doors on Whistler’s biggest food and wine festival this year.
There will be no internationally renowned, lavish winemaker dinner and no Masquerave with its infamous painted ladies.
Owner Andre St. Jacques says while the rest of the world is calling to book Masquerave tickets, Whistler wants to wash its hands of the “debaucherous” rave.
Or is it that this bad-boy party just isn’t behaving?
St. Jacques says the Masquerave is cancelled this year because he is unable to obtain the special occasion liquor licence needed to host the party, and therefore he is withdrawing his support from the festival altogether, including his annual winemaker’s dinner.
He hasn’t applied for the licence. He says there is no point; the liquor inspector will not support his application because she is unhappy with past events.
To host an evening event that runs into the early morning hours, St. Jacques must also get an hour-extension approval from Whistler council. He informally asked the mayor to support the event. However, Mayor Ken Melamed wrote an e-mail to St. Jacques saying he would not. The mayor encouraged St. Jacques to present his request to council. St. Jacques did not.
Melamed’s decision was based on a Liquor Control and Licensing Branch report from last year’s event, as well as conversations with staff from the Resort Municipality of Whistler, and Tourism Whistler.
“I think there is potential for an event like the Masquerave; an all-night component is a benefit to Cornucopia, but I think it has to be redefined under new conditions and parameters,” Melamed said.
The Liquor Control and Licensing Branch drew up parameters for last year’s Masquerave. According to spokesperson Cindy Stephenson, many of those stipulations were not adhered to.
“We’ve been concerned with the Masquerave for the last couple of years,” she said. “We approved the licence last year provided it met certain conditions. They were clearly spelled out and a number of those conditions were not met.”
Some of the conditions not adhered to included control of alcohol volumes to prevent over consumption, servers and entertainers needed to wear appropriate clothing while walking through the audience before and after serving, and nude servers or entertainers could not be coated with food or beverages for patron consumption.
“She doesn’t like my party,” St. Jacques said of liquor inspector Holly Glenn, who monitored the event. “When I started the party nine years ago, I was the only party. Now there are more parties than tastings. I threw a party and they may not like it, but nine years ago, I was the only after-party.”