Posted by: Pip Campbell
Whistler’s festival of food and drink is on for the 20th year, getting ready to wow our tastebuds from November 10 – 20, 2016 with thanks to BlueShore Financial. It’s an impressive milestone for the festival of plenty, and as always the 11 days are filled with an abundance of events that run from morning until late at night, ranging from the educational to the adventurous to those that simply encourage indulgence and having a very good time.
With such a diverse array of events on the table, the key to enjoying Cornucopia is finding what piques your palate. To help, The Whistler Insider is laying on a special 20th anniversary series to help you create the perfect itinerary – and hopefully encourage you to sample something new.
Today, we’ve got the guide to Cornucopia for the New and Curious with an overview and some must-do events that will give you a taste for the fest:
Of all the events on the calendar, the signature tastings are the most popular. Held under the attractive wooden beams of the Whistler Conference Centre, each evening has a different focus – wine, international flavours, spirits, beer, the best of British Columbia. Tasting stations manned by people passionate about their products encouraging mingling and exploration while music and DJs create a party atmosphere, making these events ideal for large groups of friends. Check out our selection below, or view all the Signature tastings here.
Crush Grand Tasting – Early Entry
Crush is the flagship event of the first weekend of Cornucopia, the tasting event for wine lovers. Red, white, sparkling, icewines, all found under one roof for your sampling pleasure. The early entry allows you to sample before the rush, and the pro tip is to eat before the event – some snacks are provided but a well-lined stomach and savvy sampling are key to tasting as many beverages as possible.
House Party: Best of BC
Local food, domestic wines, spirits and beer plus a grill run by SIDECUT Modern Steak + Bar of the Four Seasons Resort Whistler and local DJs. Break out your best plaid shirt and get your tickets early – this mid-week tasting is a favourite with locals and sells out quickly.
Poured Grand Tasting: The Full Spectrum of Taste
The big event of the second weekend of Cornucopia, the Poured Grand Tasting offers one of the most diverse drink lists of the festival. Expect a special selection of BC beer, Canadian ciders and international wines along with music and revelry.
Cornucopia’s 20th Anniversary Party at The Picnic: A Showcase of Whistler Culinary Excellence
We’re including this one because it’s new and never to be repeated, a very special picnic to celebrate the 20 year anniversary. This will be the place to see and be seen, the perfect kick off to the festival.
It’s not all mix-and-mingle at Cornucopia. Both the Chef’s Table Luncheons and the Dinners offer opportunities to explore new tastes and speak with the tastemakers – vitners, distillers and chefs – in far more intimate settings. Hosted in Whistler’s top restaurants and private mansions, expect excellent company and memorable menus. The following is a just a sample – be sure to explore all the lunch and dinner options.
Fairmont Chateau Whistler: Tinhorn Creek Winery Grand Gala Dinner
Tinhorn Creek Winery will bring a taste of the Okanagan to Whistler, teaming up with the culinary team at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler for a 5-course menu with playful wine pairings. Note the first dinner from the Fairmont has already sold out, giving you an idea of the high esteem these evenings command.
Chef’s Table Luncheon: Minami Contemporary Japanese
From the Vancouver restaurant with the same name, this luncheon will bring contemporary Japanese food to the table – and not just any old table. All the luncheons are hosted in private homes in Whistler for an exclusive atmosphere and access to the chef as they prepare the meal. Guests will be provided with transport to and from the secret location.
Taste and Learn
One of the neatest things about Cornucopia is the chance to learn more about the world of food and drink – this festival isn’t just about consuming, it’s about choices and creativity too. Food sources and trends, the latest techniques in preparation and plating are all discussed while smaller tasting events dedicated to specialty spirits or wines from a particular region allow you to develop your palate under the guidance of industry professionals. For the Culinary Stage Series, Drink Seminars and Nourish Health + Wellness Series are usually presented to smaller groups, with opportunities to interact with the leaders. Here’s an example from each series, showcasing the type of events that will let you expand your culinary horizons:
The Culinary Stage at Cornucopia: Pembytopia
Returning by popular demand, the dream team of Mile One Eating House and Pemberton Distillery join forces to present a 4-course, Pemberton-inspired menu with fresh seasonal cocktails influenced by the fertile valley just 30 minutes north of Whistler. It’s a celebration of high quality food and drink from leaders in the local food scene.
Drink Seminar: BC Wine Cheese – The Truth Uncovered
Speaking of dream teams…wine and cheese. You may be familiar with the quality of BC wines, but BC cheeses have been flying under the radar. This seminar pairs 6 wines with 6 cheeses in a guided tasting that will open your eyes to a whole new side of the province.
Nourish: Farmers Breakfast
Start your day off right (but not too early) with a hearty breakfast prepared by local Chefs Ryan and Melissa Leitch, learning more about the produce of the Sea to Sky Corridor and the importance of gratitude in the farm to table journey.
Drink Seminar: The GT – With Love From Spain
As with wine, enjoying spirits requires time to develop a taste and learn the subtle differences between producers. The spirit seminars offered at Cornucopia are an excellent way to learn more about the production of a spirit – gin, in this case – and try excellent examples hand-picked by an expert.
After dark, it’s all about the after parties. Champagne, martinis, wine mixers and silent discos, these are the events where you can really let your hair down.
Cure Lounge: Party Like Gatsby
Nita Lake Lodge is hosting this prohibition style party in the Cure Lounge where views across the lake add a touch of class. Private shuttle from the village, martinis and signature cocktails plus a ‘dress to impress’ imperative mean this is a must-do event.
Bearfoot Bistro Wine Mixers
One of Whistler’s favourite restaurants and bars knows the party doesn’t stop after the meal is served. Held each Saturday night of the festival the mixers at the Bearfoot Bistro promise DJs, feature wineries and a packed dance floor until late.
Fairmont Chateau Whistler: Bubbles and Brunch
Brunch is the meal between meals, where there are no rules and bubbles can flow before midday. This offering from the Fairmont is always popular, and sells out quickly – so if brunch is your jam, jump on it early.
Be sure to check out our Cornucopia survival guide from last year for more information on planning the perfect festival, and stay tuned for the next post – Guide to Cornucopia for Party Animals. For more information on the festival including excellent ticket and accommodation packages, visit Whistler.com.