Food & Drink » Chef's Choice

The Twelve appetizers of Christmas: Week 1

Rim Rock, Bearfoot, Nonna Pia's provide their picks



In the glow of gleaming stainless steel and spotless countertops, Chef Rolf Gunther moves around his kitchen with practiced ease — fast, efficient movements of a long-established chef setting to work prepping the evening's meal.

There isn't much time to chat for in-demand chefs like the Rim Rock Café's Chef Rolf, especially on American Thanksgiving weekend in Whistler. And there's no chance of it letting up for weeks to come.

But he has taken the time to prepare a special appetizer this weekend, to kick off the Pique's special holiday series: The 12 Appies of Christmas.

It's a lobster potato tier, which looks light and refreshing... and oh so decadent.

"It's a classic French combination," says Chef Rolf, on the lobster and potato combo.

And the perfect fit for one of Whistler's favourites, the Rim Rock Café. The tier is going to appear on the special five course New Year's menu. But Chef Rolf provides the inside scoop so it can be prepared at home too.

When asked what his favourite thing to eat over the holiday season is, Chef Rolf shrugs: "Oh, you know, I'm working over the holidays."

On quick reflection, the German-born chef who has lived in Whistler since 1976, adds the Austrian dessert "Linzer Torte."

Because, everyone has their holiday favourites that remind them of home.

At the Bearfoot Bistro, award-winning chef Melissa Craig has also prepared a festive creation. She's chosen a parfait with duck liver, picking duck because it reminds her of holiday food.

The parfait is on Bearfoot's mouthwatering menu and Chef Melissa will be running it in her tasting menu too, her daily creation of five different dishes, depending on how she feels when she wakes up in the morning. Let's just say, for those who haven't experienced the Bearfoot yet, that Chef Melissa always feels like taking your taste buds to new and heady heights.

She too is gearing up for non-stop work over the holiday period, Whistler's crunch time. So, when asked what her favourite thing to eat over the holiday season is, she's says: "Something anyone cooks for me!"

It's a good point, though she's provided the recipe for her parfait, to bring a little of the Bearfoot's indulgence into your home.

Chef Norm Strim has also had a busy weekend, not cooking in high-end restaurants like the Rimrock and the Bearfoot, but rather selling bottles of his Whistler balsamic reductions at Bizarre Bazaar.

Crowds flocked to his table this past weekend, looking to stock up on their fast-disappearing bottles, and the curious looking to see what all the fuss was about, trying a sample, and quickly learning why Nonna Pia's has become a local success story.

While people dipped fresh artisan bread into the reduction at the bazaar, Chef Norm has some creative ways to turn his Whistler-made balsamic reductions into holiday lifesavers. Like his stuffed radicchio appetizer.

"Radicchio is a member of the chicory family (bitter lettuces)," says Chef Norm. "I especially like this recipe because the sweet acidity of our reductions paired with the slightly bitterness of the radicchio is a match made in heaven. It also helps that melted cheese and prosciutto with anything is a topper on any dish."

And his favourite holiday food?

Egg nog. "And anything that you can mix with it."

So, Cheers! Bottoms up! Salute! Cin Cin! L'chaim! Slainte!