Okanagan College restaurant supports B.C. agriculture industry


Okanagan College student chefs in training (from left) Hailey Thomas, Alec Eichhorst and Kara Scott.

— image credit: Contributed

The commitment to support B.C.’s farmers, food industry and wineries shines through in this year’s Wine and Dine menu at Okanagan College’s Infusions Restaurant on the Kelowna Campus.

Sustainably-sourced crab from the Coast is featured in the crispy crab spring roll starter, pears from Hazeldell Orchards in Kelowna make up a fruit sorbet intermezzo, Enderby pork stars in the entrée and butternut squash from Aldergrove makes an appearance in the dessert.

The local flavour to the menu isn’t just about geography and consumers. It’s also – importantly – about the chefs in training, explains Chef Bernard Casavant, Okanagan College’s Culinary Manager.

“For the students, working with local ingredients not only turns a page, but it opens up a whole new chapter in learning about the farm to table movement,” he said. “People come to the Okanagan for a taste of the Okanagan.”

While it’s more of a challenge during the winter, the College tries to source as many local ingredients as possible for use in its kitchens, including turning to the freshest seafood available from the Coast.

This emphasis on gaining hands-on experience with a variety of local ingredients extends from the classroom kitchens to the restaurant. The College’s chef instructors regularly bring in items such as whole boars from the Okanagan and fresh octopus, sea urchin and rockfish from the Coast for the students to work with.

With guidance from Okanagan College Chef Jim Armstrong, the Culinary Arts students do all the prep work in the Infusions Restaurant kitchen and offer their input on the plating of the dishes.

Students also partake in wine tastings to learn about pairings. Each course on the Infusions’ menu for Wine and Dine Thompson/Okanagan (which runs from Jan. 23 to Feb. 11) comes with a local wine pairing at an additional charge.

Infusions Restaurant will offer its Wine and Dine menu Tuesdays through Fridays from 5 to 9 p.m. until Feb. 11. Infusions is open to the public, staff and students most of the year over the lunch hour and in the evenings from Tuesday to Friday. To view the full menu or to make a reservation, visit www.okanagan.bc.ca/infusions.