Happy Canada Day! An Aboriginal Potlatch Supper by Wild Salmon Restaurant

Happy Canada Day!

A Recap of The Canadian Culinary Federation’s Conference Aboriginal Potlatch Supper catered by Wild Salmon Restaurant

Aboriginal dancing at CCFCC Aboriginal Potlatch Supper – Photo by Thorsten Gohl

So what is Canadian cuisine? Sure I could blog about poutine, meat pies, maple syrup, Nanaimo bars, and smoked salmon, but what fun would that be? Actually that would be a lot of fun, and in fact I did re-launch my search for the best poutine series on Canada Day last year – see that post here.

This year I’m switching things up by highlighting a previous event I attended which I think is very appropriate for Canada Day. At the same time I want to introduce a truly Canadian restaurant that is only open for lunch during the summer. It’s a hidden gem and local secret that I recently discovered, and it goes by the name of Wild Salmon Restaurant.

As some of you know, Vancouver hosted the 48th Annual 2011 National Chefs Conference a couple weeks ago (June 10-16). Some of the country’s best chefs came to the city to showcase their talent, and a series of culinary events took place that were ideal for any foodie, gourmet, or really just anyone in general.

I attended the Aboriginal Potlatch Supper on June 13 at Vancouver Community College. It was 9 stations of mini courses that represented traditional indigenous ingredients, recipes, and cooking methods. It incorporated modern equipment and West Coast twists, and in particular BC flavours, and each dish was paired with BC wines. The menu was created by Vancouver Community College Aboriginal Culinary Class with instructor and Chef Ben Genaille.

I can’t say I’m too familiar with Aboriginal cuisine. There’s a lack of it in the city and the only time I’ve really experienced it was on an elementary school field trip at a long house cabin on an Aboriginal reserve. I also tried it at an Aboriginal event during the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics and items included bison, caribou, venison, deer, salmon, rabbit, elk, and even rattle snake. Other than that, there was the old So.cial at Le Magasin and Pair Bistro that has slight Aboriginal influences in their menus. There’s also Tomahawk in North Vancouver, but I’m not sure if that counts. Anyways, my point is when it comes to traditional Aboriginal cuisine the choices in Vancouver are very limited.

Photo from Crystal H.

That is until I attended the Aboriginal Potlatch Supper and discovered the Wild Salmon Restaurant. Tucked inside the third floor of the Vancouver Community College (VCC) the restaurant is only open for lunch and only in the summer. It’s challenging to get reservations as it’s very popular and the mains are insanely affordable at $11.

It specializes in Aboriginal cuisine and features the talent of chefs in training (students) from VCC’s Aboriginal Culinary Arts Program. The courses I tried at the Potlatch Supper was a teaser of what is offered at the Wild Salmon Restaurant. So happy Canada Day everyone! I hope you enjoy this Canadian secret, or I guess it’s more of a Vancouver secret. Share it, try it and celebrate it!

The Aboriginal Potlatch Supper

A selection of Aboriginal meets West Coast appetizers

Traditionally smoked salmon parsnip dumpling, pumpkin sauce. Those parsnip dumplings were melt in your mouth delicious and the pumpkin sauce gave it a nice sweetness. It’s available at The Wild Salmon Restaurant as a main for $11.

Wine pairings: Eau Vivre Gewurztraminer, Tangled Vines 3 Blancs

Spot prawn, poached in bentwood box sweet onion, garlic cream. I think I had at least three of these. The sweetness of the tender onion complemented the sweetness of the prawn and the richness of the buttery cream sauce rounded up all the flavours. It’s available at The Wild Salmon Restaurant as a main for $11.

Wine pairings: Haywire Pinot Gris, Misconduct Misfit

Spiced seafood cakes, corn puree dandelion salad. It was a crispy and tender seafood cake with sweet corn sauce and it’s available as a salad at The Wild Salmon Restaurant for $4. Yes, $4!

Wine Pairings: Rustic Roots Apple Pear, Bartier Scholfield Rose

Smoked trout apple salad young cress, wild mushroom vinaigrette. The smoked trout was indeed smoky and it came with some crispy skin. This is available as a salad at the Wild Salmon Restaurant for $4.

Wine pairings: Cassini Pinot Noir, Rollingdale Pinot Noir

Rabbit sausage king oyster ragout, blueberry pine nut chutney. This is not available on the regular menu at the Wild Salmon Restaurant, but they do offer a Braised rabbit, glazed onion, roasted sweet potato mash with peppery watercress as a main for $11.

Wine pairings: Black Cloud Pinot Noir, Hester Creek Character Red

Braised bison brisket roasted squash salad, roasted onions, natural sauce. The bison was melt in your mouth tender and smothered with a savoury and sweet au jus. This is not available on the regular menu at the Wild Salmon Restaurant, but there is a Slow-smoked bison brisket, roasted squash salad and savoury bannock bread pudding as a main for $11.

Wine pairings: St. Hubertus Oak Bay Foch, Fairview 2 Hoots

Roast venison loin sweet potato sauce, savory bannock bread pudding. This is not available on the regular menu at the Wild Salmon Restaurant, but again there is a Slow-smoked bison brisket, roasted squash salad and savoury bannock bread pudding as a main for $11.

Wine pairings: The View Pinotage, Noble Ridge Meritage

Cinnamon bannock fritters Brown sugar cranberry sauce. This is probably the only thing I really didn’t like because they were really dense and dry. Given the event and the fact it was students, it really isn’t a big deal. This is not on the regular menu at the Wild Salmon Restaurant.

Wine pairings: Raven Ridge Iced Cider, Tugwell Mead

Bannock bread pudding, sundried berry egg sauce. This is not on the regular menu at the Wild Salmon Restaurant and the only dessert offered is Indian Ice Cream with Fresh Berries and shaved snow for $3. I really want to try this!

Wine pairings: Vista D’Oro, The View Optima

Wild Salmon Restaurant is open until August 26 for lunch only with weekday sittings starting at 11:30 a.m. Call 604.443.8352 to make a reservation. The restaurant is located on the second floor of VCC’s Downtown campus (250 West Pender Street, Vancouver).


  • Dawn Donahue says:

    Thank you Mijune – a great review. thank you

  • Bow says:

    Thanks for showing us this new gem. great food, great looking food, at reasonable prices…Very nice !!! I grew up as a youngster in Saskatchewan and ate a lot of wild game, love this style. Rabbit, bison, trout and venison all good. Too bad it’s only open in the summer and only for lunch.

  • Mijune says:

    @Dawn Donahue – Always a pleasure Dawn. Finding unique places like this is what I live for!

    @Bow – I think it’s more than reasonable, I think it’s downright cheap! Thank you Bow for commenting! I’m sure you’ll try this place then.. it seems your style with the food if you’re used to game etc. Lots of it!

  • Linda says:

    wow, i’m so impressed at all the food here – i never knew that VCC offered such high end eateries at their schools! i only went to the king edward campus for a work training session a while back but this must be the downtown location! i need to start googling and learn more about this place! 🙂

    i love the fusion of westcoast meets aboriginal cuisine – to be honest i don’t know much about it so this place would definitely be a good place to start 🙂

  • Mijune says:

    @Linda – and did you see the prices?!? amazing! yes it’s nice to support the “kids” as well! I still have to try the actual restaurant myself!

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