August 15 2014
Chill Winston Chef Finds Inspiration in Local Harvest
Written by Gastown Admin
Tell us about your partnership with Earthwise Society.
Chill Winston has been sourcing their product ethically since they day they opened (eight years ago) — which is one of the reasons I wanted to join the team. It isn’t easy, or less expensive, but we had our sights set on partnerships that would allow us to control how our food is grown and raised.
Our partnership with Earthwise started three years ago when I was introduced to the society’s CEO, Patricia Fleming, through a partner who was also involved in slow food. We instantly hit it off. We had a vision and Patricia was instrumental in making it come true. Earthwise Organic Farm now supervises the growing, our team helps tend and harvest the crop and I pick up loads of fresh organic vegetables twice each week.
Why did you want to work with them?
I am very concerned about the future of food and this allows me to proactively address the issues. We are proud to support a farm that has such a dedicated community of people who volunteer their time and care a great deal about the land they tend. And at the end of the day, I am a chef, and the way that food tastes is the bottom line. The vegetables that I get from Earthwise are better than anything I have ever tasted.
The Chill Winston team, including Chef Derek Bothwell (left)
plant and harvest their own produce.
How do you define farm to table?
The people who create the recipes and cook the food being served (the table) are the same people who plant the seeds, tend the garden and harvest the crops (the farm). That’s Farm to Table to me. I would love for every vegetable that we serve to come from Earthwise, but with the volume we need and the climate in the lower mainland, it’s not always possible. We get as much as we can from Earthwise and every year we do a little better. In fact, next year, we’ll be taking more land, expanding our growing season and increasing the volume of vegetables that we grow.
Where do you source your sustainable seafood?
I source my seafood through Dennis at Albion Fisheries. I have been committed to sustainable seafood for my entire career and am proud of the fact that 100% of the seafood served at Chill WInston is — and has always been — in full compliance with the conservation codes of OceanWise and their international contemporaries.
Your meat is also sustainable. Where does it come from?
Our meat comes from both Hills Foods and private partner farms in the lower mainland. I value the incredible experience of spending time on the farm, choosing the animal I want, and doing the butchering. Bison, boar, ostrich, alligator, pigs, kangaroo, and yak have all passed through my kitchen.
Despite the expensive extra prep work, unexpected shortages and the other challenges that come with sourcing meat in this way, it’s important. For me, it’s about using the best product with the lowest environmental impact.
How does the availability of local products impact Chill Winston’s menu?
It’s my biggest challenge. We have quantity issues, consistency issues, and seasonal issues that simply wouldn’t be issues if we were purchasing packaged goods. But, that challenge is part of the fun and it has made me a more creative chef.
Harvested vegetables include lettuce, celery, carrots, beans, golden beets (pictured), and more.
Where do you find inspiration and ideas for your latest creations?
I like to go out and eat the food of fun chefs, great chefs, and definitely chefs who want to push the culinary limits. I cook all the time at home and do a lot of experimenting, constantly trying to push my own limits. I also read an awful lot – which has resulted in an incredible library at the restaurant.
Do you have a culinary philosophy?
I want people to come together and eat. I want the food they eat to be delicious, healthy and fun. And, I want to use the freshest and best ingredients while supporting local farms who play a big part in building a healthy food future.
What’s one signature menu item and cocktail everyone should try?
No chef wants to be known for his burger, but our Bison Burger is remarkable. And right now, on our excellent summer cocktail menu, Chelsey has an amazing mezcal cocktail called the Holy Grail.
Are you cooking up any new recipes for the menu? Can you let us in on some things to look forward to?
That’s pretty top secret, but the kangaroo may return…
The Bee Barn at Earthwise Society Organic Farm