I can’t read cookbooks.
I’m illiterate when it comes to technical directions.
But Araxi: Seasonal Recipes from the Celebrated Whistler Restaurant currently has pride of place on my bedside table. Call it high-class gastroporn.
I interviewed Araxi’s Executive Chef, James Walt, a few years ago for a series of Chef Profiles that ran in Whistler the Magazine. (I always thought the gig should come with free dinners – after all, the plate tells the chef’s story best, right? Alas, noone ever offered.)
Walt was just back from a stint in Italy, working as Guest Chef to the Canadian Ambassador at the consulate in Rome, and reacclimatising to his hometown.
Walt’s ethos has always been to cook seasonally, using only the freshest local ingredients. But the Italians take that to a whole different level. There, produce was so fresh it had to be purchased daily, the gamebirds were still feathered, eggs were individually stamped with the date they were laid, and olive oil was used within 6 months of pressing. Until that point, Walt hadn’t really followed Italian cuisine. “It seemed so simplistic.”
His new cookbook strives for simplicity – translating menus that normally cater to the restaurants peak season, so they work for the household cook. And the result is exquisite.
It’s also a love song to Pemberton, where all the restaurant’s senior staff reside. Which isn’t really a surprise to those who know the town is home to a back to the land rennaissance of kitchen gardeners, small plot organic farmers, Quebec treeplanters who dry their own food, passionate multi-generation growers, and innovative beef farmers who aren’t afraid to admit that they love their happy cows.