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From a secret pop-up dinner series to an authentic Haida family-style feast, these one-of-a-kind experiences are perfect for food-loving visitors to Canada’s West Coast

How to enjoy the most unique foodie experiences in B.C.

From a secret pop-up dinner series to an authentic Haida family-style feast, these one-of-a-kind experiences are perfect for food-loving visitors to Canada’s West Coast

The Paisley Notebook's “Secret Dinners” take place at farms and vineyards, each one with a surprise menu.
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British Columbia is known for its must-see sights, from majestic mountains and stunning waterfalls to lush forests and a rugged coastline. However, B.C. is worth visiting for more than the views – the province also boasts a lively food and drink scene that offers unforgettable experiences. You can check out a secret pop-up dinner series that educates diners about the climate crisis and social justice, get a taste of Haida Gwaii’s Indigenous culinary traditions or take a restaurant tour with a seasoned restaurant critic, to name a few. These five unique foodie experiences celebrate the best of what B.C. has to offer.

Aman Dosanj’s Paisley Notebook pop-up dinners, Thompson Okanagan

If you’re looking for a one-of-a-kind culinary experience with a purpose, reserve a spot at one of Aman Dosanj’s thoughtful “Sourced” pop-up dinners. The founder of The Paisley Notebook works with organic farmers and local producers to bring communities together for a unique dining experience that captures the beauty and vibrant flavours of the Okanagan Valley. You’ll get a chance to learn about where your meal’s ingredients came from, all while exploring themes of social justice, the climate crisis and Indian culture. The evening begins with a tour of the farm followed by a four-course meal featuring local, seasonal ingredients. Dosanj prepares dishes on site over a campfire – think wild B.C. mushroom keema rice topped with yogurt, edible flowers and house-made farro crackers, and Kerala meen pollichathu (wild coho salmon grilled in a banana leaf) with B.C. rice and salad greens. Dosanj also offers “Secret Dinners” (announced first to her mailing list) that take place at farms and vineyards, each one with a surprise menu. Even if you don’t consider yourself a foodie, these experiences are worth it for the breathtaking views and beautiful tablescapes. Early bookings are recommended, so get in touch with Dosanj for more information.

Aman Dosanj, founder of The Paisley Notebook, hosts pop-up dinners that capture the beauty and vibrant flavours of the Okanagan Valley.

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B.C. is home to Haida Gwaii, which translates to Islands of the People. The Haida are an Indigenous nation whose traditional territory encompasses the archipelago off the coast. Embrace tradition and learn about local culture by making a reservation at Keenawaii’s Kitchen. Chef Roberta Olson (whose Haida name is Keenawaii) opens up her living room to about 20 patrons every evening for a family-style feast that highlights local ingredients that are grown or caught on Haida Gwaii in traditional Haida dishes. Dinner might include sguu (dried seaweed), k’aaw (dried herring roe on kelp) and gilgii (sun-dried salmon). For dessert, you might be lucky enough to try Olson’s upside-down peach honey cake with wild berry compote and a cup of nettle tea. Much more significant than just a home-cooked meal, you’ll get to embrace the Haida culture that Olson works so hard to preserve and celebrate through food, art, symbolism and wisdom.

Talk about a personal experience; Skidegate, B.C.'s Keenawaii’s Kitchen is literally located in Chef Roberta Olson's living room and offers guests a chance to experience Haida culture.

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You won’t find any clocks on the walls at this idyllic venue, housed inside an airy 1940s farmhouse surrounded by two acres of orchard and vineyards. Chef and proprietor Chris Van Hooydonk wants guests to lose track of time while they savour a carefully prepared meal. Backyard Farm Chef’s Table is the ideal spot for a private culinary experience for groups of between two and 20 food-loving friends. (The minimum is based on a minimum spend of $1,000 before tax and gratuity.) French-inspired menus are tailored to each client and written one week prior to a booking, but the emphasis is always on local, sustainable ingredients. Past guests have enjoyed venison with foraged mushroom and caramelized onion confit; cocoa-coffee sourdough French toast; and huckleberry wine and blackberry pudding with gingerbread, salted whisky caramel and lavender meringue. While you dine, you can watch chefs at work in the kitchen. Take it in from your seat or get up close to the action – the whole idea is to feel totally immersed in the culinary experience.

Chris Van Hooydonk, chef and proprietor of Backyard Farm Chef's Table prepares unique, French-inspired meals for his food-loving guests.

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With 17 years of experience, The Globe and Mail’s Vancouver restaurant critic Alexandra Gill loves sharing stories and history about the city’s dining scene. That’s why she offers customized foodie experiences for every craving. The Richmond Chinese Dinner Party will take you to award-winning restaurants where you’ll enjoy eight to 10 courses of Cantonese and Chinese regional cuisine. For a more upscale experience, book the Downtown Fine Dining Tour, where Gill’s guests often get the chance to try special off-the-menu items, including the clay-baked salmon that helped Boulevard Chef Alex Chen win Iron Chef Canada. If you want a completely personalized experience, Gill can accommodate that, too. She recently curated a geoduck tasting menu and hosted a tour of Michelin-starred restaurants in Vancouver.

Above left: Globe and Mail food critic Alexandra Gill (centre) invites guests into her world with food tours of Vancouver. Above right: Gill's tours offer delicious insight into the city's best restaurants, as well as interesting insight into its dining scene.

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Surrey is known for its culturally diverse immigrant community which means its food scene is bursting with flavourful options. This curated interactive map (thoughtfully created by Surrey’s tourism board) features more than 70 restaurants, cafes and stores that can take your tastebuds on a tour around the world. Search by neighbourhood or cuisine and click on a restaurant to check out its menu and make a reservation if needed. You can also build your own Spice Trail map and list by style (“South Asian street food,” for example), ethnicity or dietary preferences (such as vegetarian). Need a fruity refreshment? Grab a Caribbean pineapple lemonade from Tommies Jerk or try a Lulada cocktail (made with citrusy ludo, rum, egg white and condensed milk) from Union Latinos. If you’re craving spicy, go for jollof rice at The Taste of Africa or try tandoori paneer momo (dumplings) from Spice of Nepal. For hearty fare, order up some goat stew at My Shanti or comforting green curry at Sabai Thai Restaurant.

Surrey's Spice Trail includes more than 70 restaurants, cafes and stores that offer food lovers a chance to explore a wide range of global flavours, including these delicious dishes from Spice of Nepal restaurant.

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The Great Taste of Canada is your field guide to mouth-watering eats, hands-on food experiences and unique tastes of place from across the nation. Follow along to find out that there's more to this country's food scene than butter tarts and poutine. It's sure to be one delicious ride!


Advertising feature produced by Globe Content Studio with Great Taste of Canada. The Globe’s editorial department was not involved.

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