What holiday meals can you make with local ingredients? We asked these 4 B.C. chefs

·4 min read
From left to right, Victoria chef Laura Moore, Vancouver chef Jenny Hui, Kamloops chef Jarrod Omichinski, and Prince George chef Jennifer Côté use local ingredients from their home regions to make Christmas meals.  (Rohit Joseph/CBC, Kevin Mazzone, Jenifer Norwell/CBC, Jennifer Côté - image credit)
From left to right, Victoria chef Laura Moore, Vancouver chef Jenny Hui, Kamloops chef Jarrod Omichinski, and Prince George chef Jennifer Côté use local ingredients from their home regions to make Christmas meals. (Rohit Joseph/CBC, Kevin Mazzone, Jenifer Norwell/CBC, Jennifer Côté - image credit)

In an era of supply chain disruptions caused by B.C.'s extreme weather events and the ongoing pandemic, the idea of shop local, eat local is looking better than ever.

CBC spoke to four local chefs who shared their ideas for creating holiday meals based on ingredients sourced from their home regions.

Smoked wild salmon cheese balls — Laura Moore, Victoria

Rohit Joseph/CBC
Rohit Joseph/CBC

Laura Moore, a chef with Good For You Gourmet, a Victoria-based catering service, says cheese balls are a deliciously casual dish for holiday sharing.

In a bit of a new twist, she says she mixes the cheese with salmon, covers the mixture with crushed hazelnuts and complements the cheese balls with a cranberry spread and bread.

"[The] exotic cranberry leek spread — with its amazing fruitiness — complements the creamy coolness [and] the smokiness of this wild salmon."

Moore says the wild salmon is smoked by a seafood company in Victoria, while the goat cheese, leeks and cranberries are grown in other parts of southern Vancouver Island.

"We need this grown locally instead of having to order it from thousands of miles away," she said. "We just need to build up more local food sustainability. That is glaringly clear to me."

WATCH︱Chef Laura Moore makes salmon cheese balls and cranberry leek spread

LISTEN | Chef Laura Moore tells CBC's Rohit Joseph how to make salmon cheese balls

CBC Graphics
CBC Graphics

Lemon cinnamon chicken — Jenny Hui, Vancouver

Ben Nelms/CBC
Ben Nelms/CBC

Jenny Hui, the executive chef of Vancouver-based caterers Lazy Gourmet, says she loves cinnamon because people often associate it with Christmas and coziness — and the spice combines well with the sweetness of yam and rutabaga as sides.

"It brings a nice feel of warmth when I think of cinnamon, and chicken is such a versatile type of meat that everybody eats.

"I love cinnamon and I love lemon, and the idea of that mixed with a teeny bit of harissa [a hot chili paste] just balances it all out," she said. "To pair it [lemon cinnamon chicken] with something like a root vegetable, like yam and rutabaga, just to finish it off — having that nice sweetness."

Hui uses chicken raised at Hallmark Farms in the Fraser Valley, and yam and rutabaga grown at UBC Farm, a 24-hectare farm and forest system at the southern end of the campus run by the Centre for Sustainable Food Systems.

"Local ingredients are easy to obtain, meaning we know that [they are] something that are grown in our area," she said. "Supporting locals, being part of the community, allowing customers to understand that we want to make sure that they know where we're getting it [the ingredients]."

WATCH | Jenny Hui shows how to make her lemon flavoured chicken, with a side of yam and rutabaga

LISTEN︱Lazy Gourmet's Susan Mendelson explains why it's important to buy local food

CBC Graphics
CBC Graphics

Cider-braised crispy pork belly — Jarrod Omichinski, Kamloops

Jenifer Norwell/CBC
Jenifer Norwell/CBC

Jarrod Omichinski was the executive chef of the Brownstone Restaurant in Kamloops for more than five years and will open his own restaurant Duck Duck Pork in the new year. He says a holiday meal should be comforting and rich, and the crispy pork belly is one of his favourites.

"[Crispy pork belly] is going to keep you going for those long, cold winter days," he said. "It is simply delicious … frying it until it gets crispy — it's pretty hard to beat, it's very comforting."

Omichinski sources the pork belly and the apple cider — which is used for braising the meat — from Westsyde, and the heavy cream from Blackwell Dairy Farm in Barnhartvale for making the creamed squash side dish. Except carrots, all the vegetables that he uses are grown in his home garden.

He says local ingredients taste better and are cheaper, and buying them also helps support the local economy.

"Instead of giving my money to some corporation that's based out of the U.S., I'd rather [have it] go in the pockets of my neighbours."

LISTEN︱Chef Jarrod Omichinski shows CBC's Jenifer Norwell how to make a crispy pork belly dish

CBC Graphics
CBC Graphics

Fir Crème Brûlée with Bog Cranberry Sauce — Jennifer Côté, Prince George

Submitted by Jennifer Côté
Submitted by Jennifer Côté

Jennifer Côté worked in the restaurant industry for a decade before starting her business Moose, Mushrooms, and Mud in Prince George, teaching people how to forage for food in the wild.

Côté says she chooses bog cranberries and fir needles, which can be found in bogs and forests near Prince George, because they often make people think of Christmastime.

"A lot of people love to make cranberry sauce with their turkey," she said. "Fir trees are often used at Christmastime as Christmas trees, so sometimes you enter your house and you're already smelling this conifer in your house."

Submitted by Jennifer Côté
Submitted by Jennifer Côté

She says fir needles add a unique flavour to the crème brûlée. "Fir [needles tend] to have a slight sweetness to them compared to other conifer needles, and they tend to have a little bit of lemony taste to them, and it really pairs well with the cranberries."

Côté says sourcing food locally helps people to feel connected to the land where they live.

"When you don't have a connection, it can lead to food waste," she said. "Working on it [the connection] can bring you to have a better appreciation of the farmer that grows your food."

WATCH | Jennifer Côté demonstrates how to make crème brûlée with a citrus fir flavour

CBC Graphics
CBC Graphics
Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting