Seated in the well-appointed mezzanine at Players Chophouse in Whistler's Creekside, I salivate as savage flakes of unsatiated pow dance down the windowpane... Ullr makes a powerful presence known.
I want to eat them all.
"I don't think we would have jumped at this if I would have known how much of a hardass André can be," says Travis Talbot, Operations Manager of Players Chophouse and man on the edge of Whistler's move to activate a more sustainable food sector, snapping me out of my powder dream. "For many it would be nice to simply write a cheque, check off a box and keep doing what they do."
The "hardass" to which Talbot refers is André LaRivière, leader of the Vancouver-based Greentable Network, a dedicated Whistler2020 partner and bona fide mover in Whistler's food scene. I'm not sure LaRivière's ass is so hard as it is committed. For over a year now, LaRivière has basted Whistler's leading edge foodies in a made for success marinade of science, practicality and reason - a mix for an increasingly sustainable food sector.
LaRivière brought the Greentable Network to Whistler because he cares about food and this resort community. He works tirelessly to make sure the Greentable program is aligned and integrated with Whistler2020. And there's a method to this madness. Think better, act better, be better. Greentable assesses an operation from multiple angles - menu, energy, water, waste, purchasing and others. The result is an investment in a more efficient operation that returns on many levels. Who can argue with that? When he speaks of food he closes his eyes, leans back and believes there is a better future in all of this for all of us.
"The 'anytime, anywhere' food system is in some ways remarkable in that you can get something from around the world and serve it to your customer in Whistler... but at what cost?"
If I'm a ski bum, LaRivière is a food bum. Laying first tracks down an unfettered field of better fries, entrees and local veggies. Through his work in the kitchens and dining rooms of Vancouver's lotus-tinged booths, LaRivière has seen it all. From the time when none of it was local (then) to the time it all wants to be (now).
"If you want to market every component of your menu on where it came from locally, you better be able to give the address of the farmer to your customers as they will want those potatoes... if you can't, don't do it. Reprinting an entire menu is a very costly commitment," LaRivière says.
The tendency to "localwash" menus is a reality in the transition to a truly local and sustainable food system, agree both Talbot and LaRivière.
"Of course we need to do this. It takes time and energy but the cost is part of doing good business," says Talbot. "When we got into Greentable, I thought it would be a simple certification process, and now my staff are telling me how to make the Chophouse a more sustainable operation. It's amazing to watch, and any other option would be irresponsible in a pure business sense once you realize how powerful making better decisions can be."
Hell's Kitchen has come to Whistler, Julia Child has been immortalized on Hollywood's silver screen, the Food Network is watched in well over 100 million North American homes nightly and Whistler is on the verge of establishing itself as a bona fide culinary destination. The guide on our journey is the Whistler2020/Geentable Network.
So, as we come down from the post-Cornucopia buzz and ramp up to the pre-Olympic taste orgy, we need to ask ourselves: "Can we make Whistler and the world a better place through thinking and acting with more sustainable stomachs?" I'm hungry now. Take a seat, bon apetit.
SIDEBAR/PULL QUOTE (if you can't do that please use as last graph)
Want to support Whistler's restaurants committed to sustainability? Check out these Whistler2020/Greentable locations: Araxi, Black's Restaurant & Pub, Moguls Cafe, GONE Eatery, Whistler Cooks, The Lift Coffee Co., Players Chophouse and Rosalind's Pastry Shop.