Handcrafted food for the people! Western Promises Food promises a revolution of taste.
Western Promises Food quietly opened its doors to the public on Thursday, November 11th, revitalising the space formerly known as Mexico Lindo, Big Smoke and the Weekend Wheel, at 2021 Highway 99 on the edge of Mt. Currie. The room has been transformed into a clean, simple bistro, dishing up handcrafted food for eating in or taking away, 5 days a week from 11:30am until 5:30pm, while the kitchen also serves as HQ for a catering operation that has been operating since June. The food is made daily from fresh products, including freshly baked breads from Blackbird Bakery in Pemberton, with natural meats, vegetarian and vegan options, and perfectly priced kids meals. Pemberton’s working folk have already discovered the place and its worker-friendly approach: phone in your order (604 894 5990) for an easy pick-up for the whole crew.
Owner-operator Michael Guy is turning a decade-plus of experience as a chef into a fresh concept that fits the Pemberton vibe. His driving agenda is to satisfy hardworking and hard-playing locals. Choose Pemberton connected with the 36 year old chef, in between lunch rushes.
How did you come to be in Pemberton?
We moved to Pemberton in September 2008. We were looking at small towns in British Columbia near quality ski hills – we had looked at Fernie, Golden, Revy, and Pemberton seemed to be most suitable. We only had one chance to come accross the country to look at homes, so my wife and I flew here with our son Floyd three months earlier and made an offer on a place after 20 minutes. I was quite nervous – my wife had never been here before and I had convinced her it was right for us. Pemberton seemed to be the perfect place for our family at the time, and now after being here for over two years, we know that we don’t wish to be anywhere else.
Is this a family-owned and run operation?
The business is family run by my wife and I. Right now we have an 8 month old and two other children, so she is busy with the kid-related stuff. When our youngest son gets older, she will take a more active role on a day to day basis as she is looking forward to learning to talk with adults again. We have worked together in the past and oddly enough, it seems to work out well for us.
Who is Michael Guy?
I’m just a cook. As far as my work experience goes, as a young and immature cook I chose to have my nuts busted by some of the better chefs in Vancouver. David Hawksworth taught me how to be a man in the kitchen and I will always be thankful to him for that. Julian Bond pushed me hard as a young eager cook and challenged me often, which was what I wanted. I worked a summer season as chef on a private yacht out of Seattle that travelled the BC coastline. Very fun, cramped conditions, not enough refrigeration, and high expectations to go with the high profile guests. As the new crew member, I was given the top bunk with virtually no headroom. Most mornings I would crack my head on the ceiling when my alarm went off at 5am. I also worked at Blue Water Cafe which was great since I’ve always enjoyed cooking fish and it was busy, which is all you can ask for. At 28 years old I was offered the job of chef to Robert Fowler, the Canadian Ambassador in Rome. When I was running a busy sushi bar in Ottawa, he would often come and sit in front of me when he was in town and I enjoyed making him his favourites along with some little things that we would whip up for fun. We returned to Canada in 2004, opened a restaurant in Ottawa and had two children there, by which time I was ready to accelerate our exit from the province. We sold the business and moved to Pemberton.
Ready to leave fine dining behind?
While fine dining is no longer a part of my day to day life, we still offer a unique style of that cuisine via our at-home catering services as well as our large events. Some events have budgets which are a bit lower, but we keep the fine dining standards alive with all projects no matter what we are producing. When you have certain techniques and standards beaten into you for multiple years, you don’t just say one day – “oh screw it, no one cares”. As standards become habit, it is difficult to turn those standards off inside of you. When making a stock, I haven’t just decided
to not skim it while it is cooking…if anything, I skim it more. Even if I am making mac n’ cheese at home for the kids, I get pissed if I overcook the pasta. Over the past ten years there has been a style of cookery often found in fine dining restaurants which doesn’t really jive with my personal constitution. Molecular gastronomy is very interesting in concept, but I quickly lost interest in it once I had researched the technique further. Practitioners are extremely talented and hard working – they spend an awful lot of time researching and experimenting – and many of them work in some of the most acclaimed restaurants in the world – so I would never discredit others success. But really, I would rather eat a freshly yanked beet that hasn’t been out of the ground long over a bunch of beet bubbles or some other manipulated form. The use of transformation agents in this style of cookery didn’t work with my vision of food. Maybe I’m stuck in a time warp, but I don’t wish to use products found in mass produced factory food – I just wish to make a really great slow cooked short rib.
Your website is a pseudo-manifesto. Hand-crafted for the people! What informs this stance, for you?
For us, eating is eating really. It doesn’t matter how much money you make, your dinner ends up in the same place as a millionaire’s the next morning. We draw inspiration from beach town fry shacks, cone castles, burgers at the frozen small town hockey rink, those potatoes your buddy chucked in the campfire with tinfoil….the company of family or friends, funny situations… Memories aren’t really made by food. Food is the supporting actor that contributes to the whole.
Your location is a little out-of-the-way…
We have highway frontage. We are the first place for food coming either from Lillooet via the Duffy Lake road, or from Anderson Lake. Our facility is clean and well-equipped for what we are doing. We have parking with room for large vehicles and RVs. We aren’t looking to see a hundred people every day, although that would be wonderful…we have other projects under development that will offer other dimensions to our business if we can integrate them properly.
Who are your customers? Who are you cooking for?
We would like to think that our target market during the day is most definitely local residents, whether they live next door, up the Birken way, or in the Village. We really wish to give a great product, made quickly when ordered, that isn’t full of junk and preservatives. If someone drops ten bucks on lunch, we want them to feel satisfied. Our
portions aren’t supersized, but we believe we are putting out an honest product for a realistic price. There is something personally fulfilling in stacking a sandwich high with freshly cooked sirloin.
With the catering side of things, we hope more locals will inquire about drop-off products for parties, especially if they are bored with the usual salami/ham platters and veggies/ranch dip. While we love that stuff, we make it our business to offer something different and handcrafted.
For large catered events, we don’t cheap out and lie about our menus. We use what we say we are using and do all the preparing ourselves. I butcher all the meat and fish. We make real gnocchi, real ravioli. We don’t use frozen vegetables of the day. We are not equipped for bread production, so I order it all through Blackbird Bakery, who handmakes all of their products and that suits our vision.
Could the alternative slogan for your business be “take-out doesn’t have to be evil”?
Take-out is a wonderful form of eating. Pretty much zero formalities. It most definitely shouldn’t be evil. Basically, we’ve wanted to run a mobile food truck for years. Our daytime takeaway menu is basically what we would be serving out of a mobile operation had that idea come to fruition.We wish to have customers who want good food, whether that is a healthy choice or some chili cheese fries. We might not be quite as fast as true fast food, but we are happy to make food when ordered that is free of garbage.
What is the best way for people to check out your daily fresh sheet? Become a facebook fan?
While we have our plowhorses that always sell, we try to mix things up a bit for us and our customers. We always have a lunch special that is between ten and twelve bucks that we special order product in for. We will be introducing a couple of new hot sandwiches this week. We change up our salads. We hope that customers will learn that we make great sandwiches, great soups, crispy handcut fries…and that everytime they come in they will see something different too if they wish to give that a taste. Currently, we’ve been posting new soups and lunch specials to facebook. Until we decide which form of social media will reach the most potential customers consistently it may be best for people to old school it and give us a ring at 604 894 5990.
The question comes around again, why Pemberton?
Why Pemberton? There is no place I would rather be…in 50 years I hope to have my last breath somewhere here staring at the mountains and thinking about what a decent life I’ve had.