Island Lake Lodge’s Chef Keith Farkas and His “Lodge-Made” Philosophy
“It’s our connection to the landscape,” explains Executive Chef Keith Farkas, who has been perfecting the menu at Island Lake Lodge, near Fernie, B.C., for eight years. He wants the lodge’s spectacular setting in the Canadian Rockies to be reflected on the menu.
That means asking the lodge’s trail crew to forage fireweed or wild berries for the kitchen while they’re out maintaining and building hiking and ski trails during the summer. It also means incorporating nature’s more unusual items into dishes: Farkas and his staff scour the forest for fiddlehead ferns, or pick plants from around the lodge, such as stinging nettles for soups.
The chef also buys ingredients grown or raised locally, in Fernie and the surrounding Elk Valley, including honey from Elk River Apiaries, elk for the house-made elk chorizo and the greens tossed into the popular market salad
More on the Collaborators
Chef Justin Leboe
Recognized time and time again, Leboe and his restaurants continue to win countless awards, including Most Innovative Chef on the Globe and Mail’s 2016 Best 100 list. Far from content to settle on his recent string of successes, he continues to push the boundaries by collaborating with the likes of Masion Publique, Momofuko, Wildebeest and Charlie Burger. If you ask him what’s ahead, he’ll be tight-lipped about it, but he will tell you it won’t involve jumping on any bandwagons. In 2015, Enroute Magazine named Pigeonhole Canada’s Best New Restaurant and championed it for its innovative “genre-bending” menu.
Chef John Paul Pedhirney
Starting his career in notable kitchens like The James Beard House in New York City with Chef Christopher Mills, he pursued training at Michelin 1-Star Blackbird and Michelin Bibb Gourmand, along with Gilt Bar in Chicago before returning home to Canada in 2011. Since his return, Pedhirney has worked for a number of award- winning Calgary restaurants, including River Café, Rouge Restaurant, and Muse. In 2015, the ambitious chef joined Concorde Group, aiding in the opening of Chef Justin Leboe’s Pigeonhole, and Ricardo’s Hideaway. Using his innovative style to share his vision of New American cuisine, Pedhirney now oversees the kitchen at Bridgette Bar as the Executive Chef.
Catherine Chartrand – Island Lake Pastry Chef
Catherine has been in the tourism industry for many years and has always had a passion for food. She studied pastry in Quebec City in 2013 has has never looked back. Over the years she worked her way through various positions kitchens, pastry shops and even markets. She has been on the Island Lake team for 4 seasons now and staff and guests alike has noticed her artistic flare. In her words, “We have the chance to work with fresh local products and let go all the creativity we want” Then adds “I think there is always a new way to perfect the plate, try some new ideas, technic, using old classic and transform them to our own standard. It will always be a learning progress. it can only be better. I’m ready to bite into another season at the lodge and create the best dessert on the mountain”!
Sous Chef Mark Butcher
The restaurant environment has been home for over 20 years. Like many, starting as a young dishwasher has made the pilgrimage throughout both the front and back of house. These early years lead to attending George Brown Culinary School, Toronto, in 2004. Since then has held roles as Head Chef, Private Chef and Consultant. But, eight of these years have been alongside Head Chef Keith Farkas sharing a similar philosophy; applying good technique to the best possible ingredients. At Island Lake Lodge over 10 years, the freedom of creativity and collaborating with colleagues has proven to be the most rewarding. Combined with a desire and love to travel, these are all experiences that have continued to fuel the inspiration.