Darren Brown has sailed the seven seas as Merv Griffin’s personal chef, cooked for red carpet royalty such as Michael Douglas and Stefano Gabbana, and was recruited by famed Michelin Three-Star Chef Alain Ducasse. Whistler has now recruited the globetrotter to bring his award-winning talents back to the resort once again.
Brown was recently appointed the new executive chef at the Westin Resort where he will oversee the Aubergine Grille, in room dining, and off-site catering and event menus for conferences.
The former Whistlerite first sharpened his knives when co-opening a local Italian restaurant after graduating from Vancouver Community College’s culinary arts program almost 10 years ago.
A lot has happened since. He studied French cuisine in Europe then worked for Entertainment giant Merv Griffin on his 150-foot luxury yacht for two years. Griffin then invited Brown to step in as executive chef of his Trader Vic’s Restaurant at the Beverly Hills Hilton.
Stints in Las Vegas restaurants followed, including an appointment as assistant executive chef at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino where he oversaw culinary operations for 1.8 million square feet of event space, in room dining for 5,500 rooms and more than 20 restaurants.
The Westin’s one restaurant, 419 suites and 18,000 square foot conference space will be a breath of fresh air.
Whistler wine lists lauded
The 2007 Wine Spectator Restaurant Awards celebrated nearly 4,000 wine lists across the globe, and locally accolades rested with three Whistler dining rooms and lounges.
This year Wine Spectator toasts the cellars of La Rúa, The Mountain Club and Fifty Two 80 Bistro and Lounge at the Four Seasons. All three were honoured with the Award of Excellence, which is bestowed upon wine lists offering 100 wine selections or more.
Judges look for roundness of the selection, quality of producers and the wine’s thematic match to menu prices and styles.
The Fifty Two 80 Bistro was lauded for their wines from Canada, California and France; La Rúa for vintages from California, Italy, France and Australia; and The Mountain Club for Canadian and California wines.
Getting back to the land
Back to the Land celebrations introduce the slow food philosophy through three interactive events Saturday, Aug. 18 to Sunday, Aug. 19 in Pemberton.
The weekend is most famously known for the Slow Food Cycle Sunday pedal Aug. 19, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., which cycles riders around a 50 kilometre loop to visit Pemberton farmlands, chat with farmers, taste field to fork plates from local chefs and sample food artisan wares. Live music, book readings and art exhibits add to the festive fun. Last year more than 1,000 riders and 25 local producers participated in the free agritourism event. With Pemberton B&Bs already booking up, organizers are expecting twice the attendance this year.
If you prefer a leisurely stroll with wine glasses, as opposed to a roll with water bottles, Feast of Fields is more of a gourmet affair with a picnic harvest festival Aug. 18 from 1 to 5 p.m. at North Arm Farm in Pemberton.
Guests will wander with glass and linen napkin in hand to taste the talent of B.C.’s best chefs, vintners, brewers, farmers and food artisans in a rustic farm setting.
Proceeds from the event will benefit the FarmFolk/CityFolk Society, a non-profit organization which takes initiative to protect farmland and planting seeds as well as educate people on the slow food way.
Tickets are $75 for adults and $15 for children.
Tickets are available at farmfolkcityfolk.ca or visit the Whistler Cooks Catering booth at the Whistler Farmer’s Market every Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Upper Village.
Foodies looking for a longer roll in the hay can sign up for the Feast of Fields weekend package, which includes a ticket to the harvest festival, a five-course dinner at North Arm Farm prepared by Vincent Stufano, executive chef at the Fairmont Chateau, and a one-night stay at the Fairmont Chateau.
Tickets are $228 based on double occupancy. To make a reservation, visit Fairmont.com/whistler or call 1-800-606-8244.