On July 1, Ned Bell set out on an ambitious journey. The avid cyclist and executive chef of the Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver and its restaurant YEW seafood + bar rode his bike from St. John’s, Newfoundland, all the way home to the West Coast.
The 72-day trip, which included 8,700 kilometres of cycling, rallied other Canadian chefs to support the Chefs for Oceans campaign and raised awareness about the importance of sustainable seafood.
During Bell’s ride across Canada, he stopped at over a dozen cities to cook ocean-friendly seafood with local chefs. In Charlottetown, P.E.I., Bell made mussels and other Atlantic specialities with Food Network Canada chef and cookbook author Michael Smith.
When he passed through Saskatoon, Bell stopped at Ayden Kitchen + Bar, where he and former Vancouver chef Dale Mackay cooked together and discussed the importance of sustainable seafood to land-locked provinces.
Since returning to Vancouver in September, Bell has been developing new dishes for YEW inspired by his journey. The Chefs for Oceans dinner menu will be available at the restaurant from November 1 to December 1.
Three main courses are priced between $31 and $45 and showcase seafood and ingredients from the East Coast, Prairies, and West Coast. Wine and beer pairings for each dish also capture the flavours of specific areas of Canada, and are available for an additional cost.
At a recent media event, I had a chance to preview the Chefs for Oceans menu and hear about Bell’s inspiration behind each dish.
Photos of new Chefs for Oceans menu below.
The “Shore Lunch” features a piece of fried cod, wild rice, crispy bacon, and apple sauce. Chef Bell said that this dish was inspired by the hearty lunches that East Coast fishermen packed for work each day. The cod is lightly battered and fried, and the bacon is more of a cube of pork belly. YEW wine director Emily Walker paired this dish with a glass of 2011 Stratus Vineyards Sémillon from the Niagara region of Ontario.
The Diefenbaker Lake trout with haskap berries, Saskatchewan mustard seed, and pierogis was inspired by Bell’s time spent in the Prairies. Haskap berries are similar to blueberries—dark and slightly tart. Here, Bell has turned the berries into a thick sauce that pairs well with the fish. The pierogis are nicely crisp, but the housemade mustard is the true star of this dish. Walker plans on pairing this dish with a Canadian craft beer.
The third dish on the Chefs for Oceans menu represents the West Coast and B.C. ingredients. Some diners might be surprised that chef Bell decided not to showcase fish here, and instead presents a surf ‘n’ turf. The beef is melt-in-your-mouth Osoyoos Ranch wagyu. On the side is a polenta-style Chilliwack corn and Farm House cheddar mixture with local spot prawns. While spot prawns aren’t currently in season, chef Bell prefers to freeze them to use throughout the year. Walker paired this dish with a glass of 2009 Qwam Qwmt Syrah from Osoyoos’ Nk’Mip Cellars.