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Chef Chris Whittaker forages for local bounty

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By Lawrence Herzog

“Forage Vancouver stands for everything I care about. It is about goodness, about taking care of each other, and bringing together our community over good food.”

It’s also about the strength of fostering local relationships and creating sustainable practices in every aspect of your operation.

It’s a trend that shows no signs of abating. This year the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association once again named “locally produced and locally inspired dishes” as the top chef trend.

Whittaker found his passion for going local right from the beginning when he made his first sandwich in a hotel kitchen in Thunder Bay, Ont.

Fast forward 20 years. The same week Whittaker’s new restaurant forage opened in Vancouver’s Downtown West End, he won big at the Vancouver Aquarium Chowder Chowdown in support of Ocean Wise. Forage took both Peoples’ Choice and Critic’s Choice for its Wild B.C. Spot Prawn Chowder, beating out 11 other top restaurants for the championship.

Stylishly casual, comfortable and affordable, forage celebrates all things B.C. with dishes creatively prepared using products sourced from local and organic farmers, fishers and producers.

Whittaker adores being able to get local ingredients virtually year-round and cultivates relationships with producers who always put quality first. “They are the people that got the local movement going, and I am loyal to them because what they grow is topnotch.”

Chris’s top tips to make the most of local practices

  • Find your favourite local product. Whittaker’s are wild B.C. spot prawns. “People wait all year for their eight weeks of availability, and they are outstanding, and I use them with pride.”
  • Match your style to your ingredients. “I really concentrate on the ingredients and do my best to bring out flavours by using quality and keeping it simple.”
  • Create a professional network dedicated to caring about food. Whittaker relies on a close community of producers.