In a city bursting with talented chefs dedicated to local and sustainable cuisine, Forage, the hip new restaurant in the Listel Hotel on Robson in Vancouver, B.C., is doing farm-to-table as well as any, proving that it’s not a passing trend, but a reflection of the evolution of diners’ values.
The Listel is a leader in sustainability and green tourism practice—with its zero waste policy, solar panels and state of the art heat capture program—the hotel itself is a passionate proponent of sustainability. And it’s a pretty cool place to stay. Dubbed Vancouver’s “artful” hotel, its museum floors showcase contemporary northwest coast art in each guest room through a partnership with the UBC Museum of Anthropology. The luxury rooms and suites on the gallery floors feature modern and contemporary works, courtesy of the esteemed Buschlen Mowatt Gallery. Revamping their preceding restaurant, O’Doul’s, was a natural progression of the space.
“Forage stands for everything I care about,” says executive chef Chris Whittaker, who helped transform the previous space into the new, upscale-casual Forage. “To me, forage means that we no longer seek out excess and indulgence, but instead revisit a time when we respected the land and oceans and took only what we needed to survive. It is about being stewards of our land and true conservationists, as we conduct our business and live our lives. It is about goodness, about taking care of each other, and bringing together our community over good food.”
Whittaker is a true modern day chef; a hunter-gatherer-fisherman who is into composting, beekeeping and mixing up his own preserves. When I met him last week, he had just simmered a batch of blueberry-fennel preserves, making use of the blueberries the farmer who raises his pork began to grow a few seasons ago. Forage is his dream restaurant, he says. It’s what he imagined doing when he packed up and left Ontario to come west over a decade ago.
He is quickly becoming known for his innovative menu, which is already a popular spot in the ever bustling West End dining scene.