We've all had those meals out where no matter how good the food is, the entire experience is dragged down by the restaurant's ambience—or lack thereof. This shouldn't be an issue in The Blue Room, the shimmering, aquamarine setting for Whistler's newest and most Instagramable culinary experience. Held in an undisclosed ice cave in the Whistler area, this five-course meal prepared by Four Seasons Whistler sets a new bar for luxury dining—and it will only cost you and a guest a cool $20,000.
Organized by Head-Line Mountain Holidays, The Blue Room concept has been in the works for some time, explained president and CEO Doug Washer. The luxury holiday provider already organizes ice-cave tours, and has paired those with tastings before, but The Blue Room, launched to coincide with this year's Cornucopia festival, marks the first time the company will offer a full-fledged, multi-course dinner.
"The nature of the room that you're in, first and foremost, is unique. The fact you're getting there via helicopter is further unique. The details that go into serving a dinner like this in an environment like that is unique. It's not every dining experience that you have mountain guides as well as servers and chefs. It's not every dining experience where you have your cocktails on 15,000-year-old glacier ice," said Washer. "It's a great spin on utilizing an experience we already offer, but it is taking it to that next level."
Along with a menu marked by rare epicurean delicacies—think oysters, B.C, sturgeon caviar, a bone-in, 48-ounce ribeye, and more, all washed down with fine wine and champagne—the hefty price tag will get you limo service from your hotel room to the Whistler Municipal Heliport, and a breath-shortening flightseeing tour of Canada's southernmost ice field, nearby volcanic ranges, and old-growth forest. Three per cent of the proceeds will also go towards Head-Line's White is Green Ice Cap Research Initiative, a partnership with researchers at Simon Fraser University.
For Dave Baarschers, executive sous chef at the Four Seasons, the chance to cook in such an otherworldly locale was hard to pass up, but it comes with its fair share of logistical challenges as well. Baarschers, who had never flown in a helicopter until recently, said the key to pulling off a high-end dinner in such a distinct setting is in the planning.
"I have to bring everything up in one load with the helicopter, so there's going to be the barbecue, there's going to be some cutting boards, a table for me alone to work on—that's not including table settings and stuff—so you just have to pack smartly," the chef explained. "It's very much what you pack in, you pack out. You have to plan for all aspects of that."
Because the heat of the barbecue would melt the thousands-year-old ice, Baarschers also has to set up his cooking station right outside the cave's entrance and cart everything into the guest—a route that presents its own roadblocks.
"We have to get it nice and hot for the guest, and that's what the main challenge is: running it from where I'm cooking it down to where the guests will be sitting," Baarschers said. "You're hopping over all these rocks and stuff, so trying to that quickly without slipping and spilling can be a bit challenging."
Considering the six-hour experience is more than what many Whistlerites earn in six months, the question that bears asking is: Is it worth the money?
"It is," said Washer. "Of course, you'd expect me to say that. It's not just my response. For those who have done (our ice-cave tastings in the past), that's the response. It's absolutely unique.
"Our guests have been able to experience things all around the world, so this kind of thing isn't unique to them as far as levels of luxury ... or otherwise, and this consistently ranks as the top thing our guests have done anywhere in the world, from the feedback we get. That says a lot."
The Blue Room is launching Nov. 8, in time for Cornucopia, and bookings can be made through Head-Line Mountain Holidays by calling 604-902-6415.