I had the pleasure of being hosted by Comox Valley Economic Development Society for the Signature Weekend of the 12th Annual BC Seafood Festival at Filberg Heritage Lodge & Park in Comox on Vancouver Island. This was the perfect opportunity to taste many delicious dishes from international and Canadian chefs, meet seafood buyers from all over the world, and observe how shellfish are grown and produced in the Courtenay and Comox regions of British Columbia. Of course for me, the highlight was tasting the artistically designed sample plates of local seafood created by so many amazing chefs. I’ll share with you the restaurants and eateries you must visit when you are in each area!
Before I show you drool-worthy photos of the dishes I tasted, I’ll share some highlights of the Festival’s Signature Weekend and how to get to the area!
How to Get There
If you haven’t been to this region before, here’s a quick overview map to get your bearings! I travelled to Vancouver Island via BC Ferries— both days were perfect to sit up on the sun deck and enjoy the sights, smooth sailing, and read a book! I highly recommend travelling on the ferries but make sure you plan ahead and reserve your spot so you don’t have any waits. Just a side note, but I always always find jewellery and purses to buy in the gift stores on the ferries… a weakness of mine!
The seafood industry in British Columbia is much larger than I imagined. We were able to tour two seafood suppliers and a distillery before going to the fair grounds for the rest of the weekend.
The first stop was at Fanny Bay Oysters (check out the recipes they have on their website…yum, I’ll be making some of those very soon!) During our tour, we were shown the extensive process of how Fanny Bay Oysters grow shellfish from hatchery to harvest using environmentally responsible practices. Even the shells are not wasted. They are used by many residents of the Island for their gardens, pathways, and many other uses.
Another fascinating tour was of the Manatee Holdings Hatchery, a geoduck clam fishery. The geoduck (pronounced “gooey duck” in the photo below is between 75 and 80 years old and can grow to the ripe old age of 150 years. Unreal! Have you touched a sea cucumber? We did! They are super soft and not slimy as you may think from the photo below.
Wineries and Distilleries
This region has a number of wineries and distilleries as well. We visited one of each…40 Knots Vineyard & Estate WInery and Wayward Distillation House. It’s not mystery that my favourite wine at 40 Knots is the Rosé, and at Wayward…the gin for my a refreshing gin and tonic.
BC Seafood Festival Chefs’ Creations
Now for the food you’ve been patiently waiting for! I didn’t get a chance to taste all of the food but what I did taste was simply amazing! Click on each image to see the name of the chef, where they are from, and a description of the dish.
Seafood BoilBaked n' Boiled! Kitchen Party BC Seafood Festival, Comox Valley, BC Seafood boil featuring Mac’s Oysters Ltd clams, mussels, BC spot prawns, spicy chorizo, fingerling potatoes, and petite vegetables in a fennel citrus broth with lobster sauce, crouton, anchovy aioli all proudly prepared by Culinary Team BC!
Louisiana Seafood Creole (with super super hot sauce...my fav)The Pickled Carrot Catering Company Food truck, Vancouver Island Mac's Oysters (lightly smoked), steamed manila clams, Pacific cod and snapper in a mild Creole sauce, served over Jasmine rice.
Citrus, Herb & Chili Marinated ScallopsWest Coast Wild Scallops Courtenay, BC Citrus, herb & chili marinated scallops with a radish & mint salad.
Smoked Clam Corn ChowderThe Pickled Carrot Catering Company Food truck, Vancouver Island Potatoes, sweet corn, bacon, and Manila clams.
Barbecued ScallopsWest Coast Wild Scallops Courtenay, BC Barbecued scallops with maple shallot mignonette.
Torched Scallop, Fig & Chardonnay Compote with Puffed Wild RiceCaitlin Mark H2 Rotisserie & Bar, The Westin Bayshore, Vancouver, BC
Sake Kasu MusselsMatthias Fon and Sal Howell Rier Cafe, Calgary, Alberta Fermented red fife, fennel salami and spruce
Fresh Veggies and SeafoodAll the chefs take pride in using fresh vegetables with the amazing seafood.
CevicheJenice Yu with Jen Peters Fresh Ideas Start Here, Vancouver, BC Scallops, spot prawns, geoduck & ikura
Dungeoness Crab & Side Stripe CausaShelome Bouvette Chica, Vancouver, BC This masterpiece that is just as delicious as it looks! Aji Amarillo chili whipped and chilled potatoes layered with Dungeoness crab, mango and avocado, topped with cherry tomato and corn salsa and poached side stripe prawns.
BC Seafood Festival Entertainment
The weekend was filled with live entertainment wherever you turned! From chef competitions (Ocean-wise Chowder Challenge, Best Caesar in Town, and Chef Challenge) to celebrity chef demos… and live bands (The Whiskeydicks, Enter the Haggis, ABRA Cadabra, Georgia Straight Big Band, and Easy Street) to the fast-paced Fanny Bay Oyster Shucking Challenge…there was something for everyone!
If you’d like to know more details about the chef competitions, check out a great detailed blog post at vancouverscape.com.
BC Seafood Festival Location
You can read the detailed history about the Filberg Heritage Lodge & Park on their site.
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