Friends of the Inn: Chef Rod Butters
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The incredible, world-class cuisine on offer at the Wickaninnish Inn’s Pointe Restaurant has been shaped by many talented hands over the years, but the foundation of its reputation can be attributed to one person: Chef Rod Butters.
Rod’s first-ever visit to Tofino was in 1996, when he came to meet Charles McDiarmid (owner of the Wickaninnish Inn), who had a vision of achieving the Relais & Châteaux designation for the Inn, but required someone of Rod’s culinary expertise to do so. The opportunity Charles offered Rod—to oversee the creation of a superior fine dining restaurant in Tofino—was riddled with challenges: the transport of food supplies to an isolated location, as well as staffing being glaring issues. But Rod, persuaded by the potential of what this coastline offered, saw the possibilities within the shadows.
Based in a childhood affection for serving up family pancake breakfasts, Rod’s love for food has taken him around the country and the world. His focus on regional ingredients and recipes—even before it became a “trend”—has earned Rod international recognition, and drawn attention to Canadian cuisine on the world stage.
Now with a cookbook (The Okanagan Table) under his belt, Rod is also co-owner of RauDZ Creative Concepts, Ltd. that operates four leading restaurants in the Okanagan region: RauDZ Regional Table, micro bar. bites, Terrafina at Hester Creek and Sunny’s: A Modern Diner. Alongside these achievements, he has the WCC designation, a recognition of excellence from the World Association of Chefs’ Societies, and been inducted into the B.C. Restaurant Hall of Fame (2007).
It was Rod’s innovative cuisine and high service standards that helped the Wickaninnish Inn and Pointe Restaurant attain our Relais & Châteaux designation. His capable influence and attention to detail lives on in our kitchens and menus to this day, something of which we are very proud!
We are delighted to include signature recipes from Chef Butters in The Wickaninnish Cookbook, and offer a preview of one such specialty below:
Sockeye Salmon “BLT”
Of British Columbia’s five indigenous salmon species, none is more highly prized than the sockeye, with its rosy flesh and robust flavour. The first run of the year, which usually lands in the Inn’s kitchen in August, is always cause for celebration. One of Chef Rod Butters’ favourite ways to enjoy it is in this sumptuous but simple sandwich. He prefers to use Terra Breads fig and anise bread; both the homemade mayo and the bread have a delicate liquorice flavour that perfectly complements the salty pancetta and rich fish. However, you can use your own favourite artisan bread and store-bought mayo if you prefer.
1 tbsp (15 mL) fennel seeds
3 large egg yolks at room temperature
1 tbsp (15 mL) Dijon mustard
1 tbsp (15 mL) lemon juice
1 tbsp (15 mL) white wine vinegar
½ cup (125 mL) grapeseed oil
¼ cup (60 mL) olive oil
4 dashes Worcestershire sauce
Sea salt to taste
Cracked pepper to taste
4 thin slices pancetta
2 boneless, skinless sockeye salmon filets, 3 to 4 oz (90 to 120 g) each
4 slices artisan-style bread
Prepare the mayonnaise: Lightly toast the fennel seeds, allow to cool, then grind to a fine powder.
Put yolks, mustard, lemon juice and vinegar into a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a food processor. Whisk or process until combined.
Pour oils slowly in a steady stream into yolk mixture while whisking or processing continuously and vigorously until mixture thickens. Once all oil is incorporated, add Worcestershire, ground fennel and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Put into a clean, non-reactive container with a lid and refrigerate until ready to use. This will keep 2 to 3 weeks in the refrigerator. Makes about 1 cup (250 mL).
Make the sandwiches: Cook pancetta slices in a pan or in oven until crispy. Set aside.
Grill or panfry salmon filets and keep warm while you toast the bread.
Generously spread fennel mayonnaise on toasted bread. Lay leaf lettuce, crispy pancetta and tomato slices on top of mayo, top with the hot salmon, then the remaining toast.