Party on with the Rootdown pig and the Foodlovers
Chef Maxim Ridorossi and Pastry Chef Jenna Dashney are the Foodlovers Cooking Company. They have made their home in the Pemberton Valley after years of travel: Maxim refined his skills in some of Canada’s finest restaurants (Toronto’s North 44, Vancouver’s West, Victoria’s Café Brio, Sooke Harbour House, the King Pacific Lodge) and Jenna learned chocolatiering in Paris, sugar sculpting in Vegas, and worked with Milson’s in Sydney, Australia, Hotel Sofitel’s Le Restaurant in Melbourne, the Arai Resort in Nagano, Montreal’s Le Globe, Sooke Harbour House and King Pacific Lodge. Their itinerant ways prompted them to develop a supperclub in Sea to Sky that grew a dedicated following and grassroots buzz, before they finally put down their own roots in Pemberton.
This season finds The Foodlovers ensconced in their new digs at the Pemberton Valley Vineyard, preparing to throw the ultimate pre-Slow Food Cycle bash, a Pig Party, roast and hoe-down. We checked in with them on the new space and their love of Pig.
So, how’s the new space?
Maxim: A perfect fit.
Jenna: It kind of feels like we’ve always been there. We’ve dreamed of it for years – an open kitchen, intimate, mountain views from every angle and a garden in front from which we gather food. Finally it’s a reality, it feels so right.
What’s been the most well-received thing on the new menu?
M: Well, it changes all the time…
J: Can’t think of just one thing but I am hearing a sequence of moans echoing in my memory. Chilled sweet pea and buttermilk soup, smoked wild boar chorizo, raspberry basil creme brulee, my crackers to name a few hits.
Now that you are no longer based at North Arm Farm, where do you source your produce?
M: Rootdown Farms, Riverlands, and Vicki at Pemberton Produce has a garden at the Vineyard. I still buy produce from North Arm Farm too.
J: Can’t beat those beets. Or the berry picking. I’m also getting fruit from growers in Lillooet and the Vineyard (VY) orchard. Also tending raised beds at the VY and a home garden.
The 3 words that come to mind for me, when I try and encapsulate you guys and your take on food are scandalous, stickyfingered, sexy. What 3 words would you use?!
J: passionate, ever-changing, edacious.
Do you think that the locavore movement is just a flash in the pan?
J: I hope that this western era of industrialized food will be a flash in the pan. Eating locally was the only way for most of human history.
What are you most excited about this summer?
M: Being in our restaurant. And raising chickens.
J: Growing things, our business and plants. And raising chickens.
What are your signature specialities?
M: That you’ll eat what is in season.
J: That everything on your plate is handmade by us or grown locally. That’s our signature style.
Tell us about the Slow Food Cycle plans, aka The PIG Party?
M: A party with pigs, veggies, dancing and hay bales.
J: We were toying with “Dine & Swine” but wanted a casual theme. It’s going to be a finger-licking, socializing, barn dancing good time that honours our favourite animal and one of our favourite farms, Rootdown. We’ll also be serving a breakfast at Rootdown on the morning of the cycle, then hope to be off on our bikes to enjoy the day.
M: It’s the most versatile animal, nose to tail. And useful – all of our organic food waste is used to feed the pigs at Rootdown.
You have worked all over the world and in Whistler. Tell me, why Pemberton?
M: Great people, I can source almost anything and I’m surrounded by nature.
J: It’s got a great mix of agriculture, mountain culture and creative souls. After 2 1/2 years, I’m still feel like a newcomer but I am always discovering more about the town and falling more in love with it everyday.
What do you think Pemberton has the biggest appetite for?
J: Good, real, affordable food.
Finally, our place, or yours? (Are you still available for supper clubs and/or catering?)
M: Our place. Catering? We’ll consider it for the right people.
J: I love being the Madam of the house at the VY, it’s the perfect space for a private supperclub. Definitely our place.