|Devour takes place Saturday at 6:30 pm at the Centre for Learning at Okanagan College. From left, Lauretta Coccaro, executive chef of La Bussola Restaurant; her son, Luigi, sommelier; Sung Ji Park and Chris Braun, both sous chefs; and Holly Dober, organizer of Devour. Lauretta, Luigi, Sung, and Holly hold Cassini Cellars wine while Chris holds a plate of veal Carpaccio.|
It has evolved into a more sophisticated scene, but it still highlights the Valley's bounty, and it's being captured in a new culinary gathering.
Devour is an aptly named event that Valley foodies are - can we say - salivating as they anticipate it?
"It's a celebration of the growing culinary culture in the Okanagan â€¦ for people who love great food and drink," said Holly Dober, the drive and director behind the event.
Devour will showcase 50 presenters of fine foods and drinks.
"I've personally always wanted to do this and now that the foodie scene has changed and evolved, it's possible," said Dober.
She explained that the Valley's restaurants are growing in type and number. While there are many great chain restaurants, there are a growing number of independent restaurants that focus on local products.
"The idea of local products continually comes up in discussions. The chefs partner with butchers, bakers, cheese-makers, farmers and honey-producers, dedicated to the great bounty of food we have here," added Dober.
But wait. Our Okanagan growing season is only three to four months, tops. How can restaurants keep using local products the rest of the year? Dober says there's a growing movement among chefs to go back to traditional canning and drying, pickling and preserving, to keep the summer's peaches, cherries and more for year-round use. They also source out root vegetables and capture added-value products from growers.
Devour will give the Okanagan's best purveyors of fine food and drink an opportunity to present their wares in a fun social setting.
Devour is called an open tasting event, so you pay a single admission fee to indulge in the whole culinary experience.
Dober said, "It will be like a cocktail party, a fine dinner at the best local restaurant and a night on the town with friends, all rolled into one."
The 50 presenters are leaders in their fields and will compete in the categories of Best Bite, Best Sip and Best Pairing. They'll be judged by a panel led by celebrity chef and Top Chef Canada's guest judge Chef Vikram Vij. Attendees may cast their votes for people's choice in each category by using their cell phones at the event. According to Dober, "Everyone is a food and drink connoisseur."
So picture yourself at Devour. The aromas lure you first. Maybe it's the seafood chowder that partners Codfathers Seafood Market with Brodo Kitchen. Next, the presentations attract your attention, such as the pasta creme by Sandrine French Pastry and Chocolate.
Then you're ready to revel in the tastes and meet the presenters. For example, you'll meet Chef Jesse Croy of Summerhill, who has captured a loyal following of food fans he calls locavores. You'll meet David Beaudein, known for his "Squeaky Cheese" and for operating one of the oldest cheese factories in B.C., The Village Cheese Co.
The presenters are food people who like to talk about concepts such as "fresh simplicity" and "meal as catalyst for great conversation," and "time-honoured methods" and "connection to the land."
You'll also meet the best mixologists, winemakers, master distillers, brew masters and their wares. Dober said there will be sparkling waters and several non-alcoholic drinks to choose from for those who prefer them.
Promoter Social Magnet Productions and presenting sponsor Urban Fare are behind Devour, launched this year to combine the appeal of popular preceding culinary events such as Hopscotch and Taste of Kelowna, and to build on the idea of creating a great social atmosphere.
"Bring your appetite," said Dober.
What: Devour: Eat, drink and be social
When: Saturday, March 1, at 6:30-9:30 p.m.
Where: The Centre of Learning, Okanagan College campus, 1000 KLO Rd. (north entrance)
Cost: $95 per ticket, available at devourkelowna.ca (must be age 19 or older)