Follow Me Foodie to West Coast Paella on the Beach at Feast Tofino!
I had just come from an Introduction to Indian Cuisine, A Cooking Class with Khalil Akhtar where he featured a 5 course Indian inspired seafood lunch, so it was time to burn it off with some outdoor activity. My choice? Paella cooked over an open fire right on the beach. Burn baby, burn.
I was invited to the 2nd Annual Feast Tofino which is a culinary celebration of the West Coast and Vancouver Island boat-to-table cuisine. Restaurants feature set menus throughout the month ($29, $39, $49) and special events take place every weekend. Given how I feel about price fixe menus I was naturally more interested in the one off special events. All of the events sounded unique and were created especially for Feast Tofino, but unfortunately I couldn’t stay the whole month to try them all.
One event that caught my attention was West Coast Paella on the Beach hosted by Ocean Village Resort featuring Vancouver Island Chef Kunal Ghose from Food Network’s Top Chef Canada Season 2. It is hard enough to find a good paella in Vancouver, so I’ll jump at any opportunity I can get, but the experience is what had me. An event like this doesn’t happen anywhere and it was special to Feast Tofino and Tofino.
Chef Ghose cooked a West Coast paella over an open fire on the shores of MacKenzie Beach for around 50 people. Forget long walks on the beach, I want paella on a beach! This was probably one of my favourite events in the 48 hours I was there, and who knew I could be the outdoorsy type?
Well technically this is the world’s biggest paella ever made. It happened in Madrid, Spain in 2001 and they used a 21m diameter pan and cooked 6000kg of rice, but it’s no fun when I didn’t get to actually eat from it. Therefore this paella in Tofino was more fun, although it might not look so big now.
Guests of West Coast Paella on the Beach were invited to come at 3:30pm for Chef Ghoses’ cooking tutorial on seafood, and after they could watch him prepare the paella. It was a very casual event, but it delivered on a grand scale. Tickets were only $10 too and it was a major bargain for what you got.
I would highly recommend this event for next year (if they do it again) and it’s a great way to spend an afternoon relaxing on the beach while someone cooks a giant paella loaded with seafood for you. I don’t even know where you get a paella pan that size… and he had two going.
This West Coast style paella put a Tofino twist on Spain’s national dish and featured local and sustainable seafood. I wasn’t aware of how much seafood was going in this, but he started with huge pieces of fresh halibut and line caught salmon…
He finished with mussels, handfuls of dungeness crabmeat, whole pieces of dungeness crab legs and cockles (small salt water clams). I rarely, if ever, see cockles in Vancouver so it was a treat to get them here.
The paella was served at 5pm and it was more than enough to tie most down for dinner, but it was my last night in Tofino and I had to eat more seafood. So ♫ heigh-ho, heigh-ho ♫, it’s off to SoBo (restaurant) I go!