Sooke Harbour House is a gracious award-winning resort hotel and restaurant on the shores of Sooke Bay in southwestern Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Innovative owner/innkeepers Frederique and Sinclair Philip have featured local, seasonal, regional foods for decades, long before it became a popular movement.
It simply makes sense to use resources right around us, Frederique says. They’ve extended their expertise and values far beyond the hotel menu. Sinclair is a dedicated mycologist (student of mushrooms) and a co-founder of Slow Food Canada. Frederique has created beauty everywhere you turn in the hotel and grounds — with stunning art, sculpture, and paintings from their region.
One source of beauty is the gardens: nearly all of the plants on the grounds are edible. We toured hoop houses, beds, and bushes beside the paths — even in winter bearing color or herbs to top the salads . Plants are picked for all their parts and in growing phases, said chef Oliver Keinast: “sprouts, stems, leaves, flowers, fruit, roots, seeds.” He remarked that what we eat connects us to the natural world. Sensually and pleasurably. Ecology and food.
Besides harvesting from the garden beds, the kitchen staff walk outside the inn and down to the beach to harvest sea vegetables. Pigs are raised nearby in their farm-to-table project. Other ingredients are sourced from local farmers and fisherfolk.
Maintenance manager Francis Louvat showed us notable examples of the hotel’s environmental sensibility. Besides composting uncooked kitchen scraps, they treat sewage and re-use the water in the toilets. Both the composted soil and treated water are returned to the gardens. They’re closing the loops wherever they can.
Look forward to an engaging conversation with people who’ve pioneered the local and slow food movements for over three decades. [sookeharbourhouse.com]