The Best Seafood on the Canadian West Coast

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 worldwide, 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 visited 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 upstairs on the sun deck and enjoy the sights, smooth sailing, and reading a book! I highly recommend travelling on the ferries, but make sure you plan ahead and reserve your spot so you don’t have to wait any longer. Just a side note, but I always find clothes and purses to buy in the gift stores on the ferries. It’s a weakness of mine!

Seafood Suppliers

The first stop was at Fanny Bay Oysters (check out the recipes 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. Many residents of the Island use them for their gardens, pathways, and other uses.

The seafood industry in British Columbia is much larger than I imagined. We toured two seafood suppliers and a distillery before spending the rest of the weekend at the fairgrounds.

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 150. Unreal! Have you touched a sea cucumber? We did! They are super soft and not slimy, as seen in the photo below.

This region has several wineries and distilleries as well. We visited one of each 40 Knots Vineyard & Estate Winery and Wayward Distillation House. It’s not a mystery that my favourite wine at 40 Knots is the Rosé, and at Wayward…the gin for my 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!

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.

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