This is What it’s Like to Eat Like a Local in Tofino
Tofino’s seventh annual boat-to-table festival kicks off May 5 (a.k.a. you can spend the next two weeks savouring the island’s bounty).
“It’s not very often you get to meet the guy who caught the salmon you’re about to eat,” says Nick Nutting. But that’s exactly what you can expect to do at Feast Tofino, a two-week-long festival (May 5 to 21) that celebrates the coastal city’s boat-to-table culture. “It’s basically what the town has always been about, even before restaurants were here.”
Nutting, chef at Wolf in the Fog, has participated in the festival since its inception seven years ago and is excited to share Tofino’s cuisine with locals and visitors: “We’re blessed with a huge bounty of product and I feel like [the festival] gets better every year,” says Nutting. “It’s exciting to work with chefs from out of town, too.”
Each of the participating restaurants—Driftwood Café, Pointe, Sandbar Bistro, Kuma, Sobo, Jamie’s—invite an out-of-town chef to join them in the festivities, creating one-of-a-kind menus that pay homage to the local cuisine. This year, visiting chefs include Joël Watanabe of Kissa Tanto, Hiroshi and Miju Kawai of Basho Cafe and Lee Cooper of L’Abattoir.
To kick things off, Nutting and Watanabe will be joining forces at the Tofino Botanical Gardens, serving Italian/Asian street food—and a ton of freshly caught fish at their collaborative raw bar. “I’ve eaten at Kissa Tanto several times and I really like Joël’s take of raw seafood: simple preparations and clean flavours,” says Nutting. “We’re prepping it right now and everything looks awesome.”
Other events include a patio party, sake tasting, vegetarian feast, overnight dirt bike excursion and boat-to-tailgate party: “[The food] is literally coming off a boat, up a ramp and onto a barbecue,” says Nutting. The festival will be brought to a close at Jamie’s restaurant and lounge on May 20, where they’ll be hosting a brewmaster barbecue—the place to be if you like Tofino-made beer and tacos.
For more information and to see a full schedule of events, visit feasttofino.com. You can also catch a glimpse of the festival on the WL Twitter and Instagram feeds, where we’ll be sharing photos and videos from the opening weekend.
You can hop in the car, drive to Horseshoe Bay and board the earliest ferry to Tofino (a journey that will take a minimum of five hours), but if you can’t wait to get a taste of the island life, catch an hour-and-a-half flight from Vancouver International Airport. Orca Airways offers flights from $150—spectacular coastal views included.
If it’s luxury you want (because you’ll need somewhere to rest your weary head after a day of Feasting), look no further than the Wickaninnish Inn. Located at the northern tip of Chesterman Beach, the resort is mere steps from the Pacific Ocean: a seaside stroll or early morning surf session will help you burn off some of the calories, but you can also choose to walk 15 minutes to the original Tacofino truck. We won’t judge if you choose the latter.