It was a decade ago that Frank Pabst rolled out his first Unsung Heroes seafood festival. Interestingly, at the time, it was considered to be not only cutting edge but a risky proposition. Pabst served ingredients such as sea urchin, jellyfish and poached periwinkles to a segment of the population entirely unaccustomed to such delicacies!
The 10th Unsung Heroes festival runs at the Yaletown restaurant through February.
It speaks volumes for the chef’s vision that Vancouverites have latched onto the festival so enthusiastically. According to Blue Water, its popularity has grown four-fold. And it continues to grow, as people truly embrace the idea of celebrating “unsung” Seafoods.
You don’t have to go back that far in time in when seafood in Vancouver meant one thing: Salmon—be it smoked, Cedar-planked, whipped into salmon butter, dried as Indian candy or fish ‘n chipped. Okay, there was the occasional steamed Dungeness crab or shrimp cocktail to go along, but not really much else.
Blue water claims, I think quite correctly, that what was once unsung has “truly entered the ‘mainstream’ of the public’s consciousness.” Indeed, they’ve been a big part of that process.
The (at the time) quite daring idea behind Chef Pabst’s month-long event “to bring awareness to local and unique seafoods” has more than succeeded. It’s also obvious to me that festivals such as this have made us all pay more attention to seasonally available ingredients, whether at home or dining out.
A less tangible but equally important spinoff is the collective impact such programs have had on the fishing industry at large. The ripple effect has been key in making even the major players far more aware of the fragility of species and the ocean ecosystem at large. Only time will tell if our governments—at every level—truly “get it” as well.
If you’ve never experienced the Unsung Heroes menu, no time like the present. You owe it to yourself to explore what others have discovered: a wealth of unusual, delicious—and always sustainable—tastes, creatively prepared and, as you can see, superbly plated. (And thank you, as always, John Sherlock, for your superb work.)
Each year bring something new. This year the novelties include steamed gooseneck barnacles and sustainably-raised sturgeon liver mousse, as well as, probably, a few other treats!
Our advice: book early!
Reservations at 604 688 8078 or online at www.bluewatercafe.net.
Also of note: Blue Water Cafe donates 10% of the proceeds from Unsung Heroes to the Ocean Wise program.