Portraits from the Potato Nation

We’re unmasking Pemberton. One mover&shaker at a time.

Lorien pours Schramm vodka at the Pemberton Distillery
Master distiller Tyler Schramm at the Pemberton Distillery

Top 40 foodie under 40, Tyler and partner Lorien Schramm bottle the essence of Pemberton at the Pemberton Distillery. Technically, they’re master distillers of organic craft spirits. But we call them alchemists – workers of magic. And hard workers at that.


The artist otherwise known as Sumire Design is not, in fact, a barista, although she’s such a regular at Mt Currie Coffee Company that people think she must work there. (Her husband runs the joint.) She is the most prolific graphic designer and branding guru in Pemberton. Meet Lisa Ankeny and discover where she sources enough inspiration to develop creative identities for over 50 local businesses.

Pastry chef Raven Burns owns to the following titles: Chef. Entrepreneur. Goddess. (Seriously, if you’ve eaten her cinnamon buns, you will not dispute the latter.) We discover the heart and dough-rolling hands behind Blackbird Bakery, here.

Pastry chef, Lisa Vertefuelle, is the Queen of Cake, the mistress of the Flour Pot, the artist behind the loveliest edible art around. Discover what makes a truly awesome amazing cake in our Q+A with her.

* In March 2008, Pam Beattie decided it was time to act on her lifelong passion for pretty, shiny things. Long inspired by her great-grandmother’s jewelry box and elegant fur coats, Beattie, the mother of three and grand-niece of a seamstress and a milliner, began to repurpose vintage coats, rhinestone buttons and jewelry into a home-décor line that quickly attracted attention and clientele from Glasgow to Beverley Hills. All from her home-studio in Pemberton. We asked what inspires Pam, here.

* Big mountain skier, Johnny “Foon” Chilton, decided to stop bitching about not being able to find the perfect ski for the Coast Mountains, and just make them himself. (For an idea of what Foon means by “skiing” check out his segment in Parental Advisory vol 1 at 21:54.) The former pro athlete drew on a 6 year cabinet-making gig, the growing artisan ski-making movement and inspiration from surf and water-skiing cultures to develop his signature line of skis, the TyFoons. We checked in with Foon here.

* Aaron Russell Smith, Big Sky Golf Course‘s culinary intern, has gone from studying jazz and music to conducting symphonies for the palate… graduating from Vancouver Community College’s Culinary Arts program in 2005. Stints in Vancouver restaurants Earls, the Tomato Fresh Food Cafe and the Bentall 5 Cactus Club Cafe fired up his appetite, and he’s currently studying at the Culinary Institute of Canada in Charlottetown, PEI. Which is pretty much as far from Pemberton, BC as it gets. But this is where Smith has set up a home-away-from-home, undertaking an internship at the Big Sky Golf and Country Club.  From 1-9 September, the Big Sky Golf Course’s specials board will feature the “Sweeter Side to the Meager Creek Mudslide” with a Meager Mudslide Martini and the Bitter Sweet Chocolate Lava Cake, which Aaron created  as a tribute to the “nerve-rattling experience of the Meager Mudslide. The inspiration,” he says, “is its resemblance to an actual mudslide on your plate and palate. As you cut into the Lava Cake, you’ll experience the warm gooey goodness of chocolate with a hint of cinnamon.” The Bitter Sweet Chocolate Lava Cake is also served with toasted coconut brittle and mixed berry coulis. Taste-test Aaron’s concoction in September, and you’ll also be supporting Pemberton Search and Rescue, with all proceeds being donated to the volunteer rescue agency.

PEI Culinary Institute student, Aaron Russell Smith, is interning at Big Sky Golf Club and creating his interpretation of Mt Meager with a bittersweet Lava Cake.

* Pro skier Mark Abma ended up in Pemberton because he loves the mountains, and because he was “looking for a slower pace of life. And to be closer to my food. And to live deeper in the part of the mountains I like spending time in.” Motivated by a love for winter, Abma founded 1Step to raise eco-consciousness amongst winter-sports communities. Closer to home, 1 Step will green up the micro-musicfest, The Two Acre Shaker, in August 2010, after undertaking a green building project in Argentina at Bariloche.

* Artisan coffee roaster, Paula Robertson, of Pemberton Valley Coffee Company, is about to put her new coffee cart into action. “You know the ice-cream truck that the kids freak out over? I’m going to be that for adults! People will chase me down.” We checked in with Paula over americanos at Blackbird Bakery.

Step 1: Roast. Step 2: Sample. Step 3: Deliver.

* Potter, Amy Hazeldine, has been firing up a storm in her Pemberton kiln, to prepare for her first season at the Whistler Farmers Market every Sunday. Sake sets, manly mugs and big-and-little-kidlet cups are all part of the SünnaStudio line.  We talk to her about being one with clay, here.

* Anna Helmer of Helmer’s Organic Farm and one of the founders of Pemberton’s Slow Food Cycle Sunday, is something of a bike-fascist. I mean, fetishist. I mean, fanatic… On her days off from the farm, she and her mom decided to make a pedal-powered jaunt to almost-Lillooet-and-back. That’s 223 km. Over the mountains. On dirt roads.

Read about the Hurley/Highline Circle Tour here.  She also writes a monthly column in the Question and has just taken up welding.

* Pemberton’s Fishfinder, Brad Knowles, picks some top spots this summer for bull trout fishing.

Ulla Clark’s LUprints started as a grassroots project for the Slow Food Cycle festival in 2006 and has since grown into a full range of home textiles, ladies clothing and a childrens line, that is gaining attention across the country. She has even collaborated with Indigo books on a range of throw pillows. The Pemberton-based designer was recently featured in Canadian House and Home.

* Meet the Queen of the Magpies, scourer for shiny things, jeweller Andrea Cooney of Averice Designs, who turns trash into treasure, and is featured in the summer issue of Mountain Life magazine.

* Discover how deep still waters run, with a tour of Tyler Schramm‘s family-owned and operated distillery, producers of the only organic potato vodka in the world.

Tyler Schramm, master distiller, at the Willy Wonka factory for grown-ups, the Schramm Vodka distillery.

* Read this one-on-one with Russ Wood, one of the Three Masochisteers to found the NimbyFifty technical marathon XC bike race that debuted in Pemberton in May.

Leading the charge : Nimby 50 founders Terry Evans and his trusty bullhorn, and Dean Linnell. Photo by Sara Evans. 

One Response to “Portraits from the Potato Nation”
Check out what others are saying...

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: