Whistler's Cornucopia food-and-drink extravaganza includes a toast to health

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      With dozens of food and wine events, Whistler’s Cornucopia festival, presented by BlueShore Financial, is 11 days of high-altitude hedonism.

      But the fest has another side, one that helps bring balance to the gourmet extravagance. The Nourish: Health and Wellness series of events is a fest within a fest featuring all sorts of workshops and activities centred on healthy living.

      Although not an exhaustive compilation, the following are some suggested self-care and self-indulgence pairings, a kind of Cornucopia survival guide for all the health-conscious foodies out there.

      To see the full schedule of Cornucopia, which runs November 9 to 19, visit whistlercornucopia.com/.


      Wine, dine, and fizz

      The festival is strong from the get-go, with the first of the Cellar by Araxi Intimate Wine Dinners taking place on Day 1 (November 9). Called Icons of the Okanagan, it highlights wines by von Mandl Family Estates—Mission Hill, CedarCreek, CheckMate, and Martin’s Lane—paired with dishes by acclaimed Araxi executive chef James Walt.

      That afternoon at Ferment Inc., you can develop an understanding of how “good” bacteria contribute to better health in a workshop with healing-foods specialist Astrid Cameron-Kent. Here’s where you can learn about making effervescent items like sauerkraut, salsa, and pickles, just a few of the fermented foods that are abundant in enzymes and probiotics that improve digestion.


      Basics, then a blowout

      Caveman Grocer specializes in delivering “paleo” meals, with cofounder Kara McMaster having learned during the years that even when people make a decision to follow a healthy diet, they often lack the know-how. She’ll go over the building blocks of healthy, tasty food in her Mastering the Basics workshop (November 10).

      You’ll want to get back to basics in the kitchen after indulging in events like Peak to Peak to Peak: A Four Seasons Mountain Collection Chefs Collaborative, taking place at Sidecut Modern Steak + Bar. Whistler Four Seasons Resort executive chef Eren Guryel hosts American colleagues from Vail and Jackson Hole, each with a knack for steaks and related seasonings and rubs.

      Another option that evening is an intimate four-course paired dinner at Legs Diamond Supper Club, an upscale-casual Upper Village restaurant that gets its name from a Prohibition-era New York bootlegger and gangster.


      Fuel for a full day

      Start off a Cornucopia marathon on November 11 with Farmer’s Breakfast, a hearty, wholesome meal by Venue Restaurant chefs Ryan and Melissa Leitch at the Whistler Conference Centre. You’ll have enough energy to take in multiple events that day, whether it’s the Chef’s Table Luncheon by Carmen Ingham of Villa Eyrie Resort’s Summit Restaurant or the Truffle Dinner at Quattro Whistler.

      There are also several intriguing drink seminars that day, including Vermouth’s Bittersweet Revenge and Guilty Pleasures: Wine and Junk Food. Then there’s the Crush Grand Tasting, the festival’s flagship event, a lively night of food and wine tastings.


      Healthy snacks, female influence, reel food

      Forget the vending-machine snacks you reach for at the office in the middle of the afternoon; those processed, packaged bites are usually empty calories. At the Energy in Motion session (November 12), Whistler Blackcomb executive chef Wolfgang Sterr will share recipes for simple pick-me-ups that will provide sustained energy to get you through the day. (A vegetarian and athlete, Sterr is also leading Nourish’s November 14 Plant-Based Deliciousness workshop.)

      Once you’ve got those healthy recipes in your back pocket, move on to the Fairmont Chateau Whistler’s ELLEvate TogetHER collaborative fundraiser that evening. Three accomplished female chefs—Nicole Gomes, recent Top Chef Canada: All-Stars winner; Melissa Craig, executive chef at Bearfoot Bistro; and the Chateau’s executive chef, Isabel Chung—will each create two courses with the assistance of female apprentices.

      With wine being provided by Quails’ Gate winemaker Nikki Callaway, the evening will not only highlight women in the food and wine industries but also turn over all proceeds to cancer research. There are just 50 seats available; if you miss out, another hot ticket that night is for Sensory Cinema: Lost in Translation with Harajuku Izakaya. Sofia Coppola’s 2003 hit will play alongside a tasting menu inspired by the Japanese tapas and sake bar team’s favourite moments from the film.


      To veggies, with a toast

      Among the Nourish events that shine the spotlight on vegetables is Meatless Mondays (November 13), a plant-based lunchtime cooking demonstration and tasting. Three registered holistic nutritionists will talk about the nutritional benefits of a trio of featured dishes.

      And on November 16, the Whistler family behind the Green Moustache Juice Bar will share their food philosophy and ways to incorporate it into your own eating, prioritizing organic and local produce, delicious and nutritious whole foods, and food that nourishes and detoxifies the body.

      Knowing that life is all about balance, you can head with a clear conscience to Beer Pairing Dinner, a four-courser with pairings by Whistler Brewing Co. Featuring staple and seasonal brews, the collaborative event with Blacks Pub and Restaurant will include on the menu curried roast-pumpkin soup and pan-roasted duck breast.


      Soothe the body, feed the belly

      Mountain Tune Up: Roll to Shred (November 10 and 17) gives skiers, snowboarders, outdoor enthusiasts, and others ways to help their body recover from activity. With a focus on feet, legs, and hips, people will learn self-massage techniques using Yoga Tune Up therapy balls to get into fascia.

      With your muscles all relaxed, you’ll be in fine form to take in any number of notable happenings from the closing weekend, such as Cocoa Couture (November 18), an experiential chocolate-making workshop at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler with executive pastry chef Anup Chaubal.

      Then there are Chef’s Table luncheons with Hector Laguna, executive chef of Botanist at the Fairmont Pacific Rim (November 18), and Jeff Van Geest of Tinhorn Creek’s Miradoro Restaurant (November 19), winner of the Georgia Straight’s 2017 Golden Plates Award for best winery restaurant.