12 Things To Do for BC Shellfish and Seafood Festival 2017 in Comox Valley

Oyster Shell from Fanny Bay Oyster Plant Tour

June is BC Seafood Month, and what better way to showcase seafood excellence than attending the BC Shellfish and Seafood Festival, Western Canada’s largest seafood festival. With over 100 different seafood species harvested in BC waters, the value of #BCSeafood industry and its importance to the provincial economy, families and coastal communities need to be recognized.

Reflections at Courtenay Riverway Heritage Walk in Comox Valley, British Columbia

On its 11th year in the Comox Valley, on the east coast of Vancouver Island, the BC Shellfish and Seafood Festival ran from June 9-18, 2017, a good 10 days filled with over 40 culinary events, seafood tours, celebrity chef demos, tasting dinners with wine pairing and more, with a trade show at the BC Seafood Expo.

Did you know? Comox Valley is not a city – it’s a region in Vancouver Island that includes the city of Courtenay, town of Comox, village of Cumberland, and other settlements and communities.

Sunset Reflections at Courtenay Riverway Heritage Walk in Comox Valley, British Columbia

As you know, I love shellfish and seafood. My Food Instagram is flooded with seafood. Among my favourites are lobster, scallops and calamari, and, if you know me, you know I’m a sushi addict.

I was so ecstatic when I got the opportunity to attend the BC Shellfish and Seafood Festival as media among other visiting domestic and international media journalists. I haven’t been to British Columbia for more than 10 years so it was such a great opportunity to explore the state that’s well known for seafood and nature!

All of us stayed at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites Comox Valley so we got to bond and end up becoming friends.

When I checked-in, I got a gift bag full of goodies including wine from 40 Knots Winery, chocolate from Hot Chocolates, and smoked oysters from Fanny Bay Oysters!
BC Shellfish and Seafood Festival 2017 Gift Bag

I was there from June 9-14 with a jam packed itinerary of educational tours, beautiful sights, meet and greets, and, what I do best, eating and drinking. In the three full days plus one night I was there, we did 12 things! Here’s a video recap of what we did, which I’ll be going into detail in this post.

12 Things To Do in Comox Valley During BC Shellfish and Seafood Festival 2017:

  1. Visiting Media and Chefs Dinner and Meet & Greet at Locals Restaurant
  2. Big Animal Encounters with Pacific Pro Dive & Marine Adventures
  3. Fresh Fest at Coastal Black Winery
  4. Fisherman’s Wharf Vessel Tours
  5. Salmon Capital Seafood Taste
  6. BC Salmon Farmers Association Tour
  7. Chef’s Shellfish Showdown at 40 Knots Winery
  8. Fanny Bay Oysters Plant Tour
  9. Manatee Holdings Hatchery Tour
  10. BC Seafood Expo Trade Show
  11. BC Seafood Expo: International Buyers & Media Reception
  12. BC Craft Beer & Exhibitor Reception at Gladstone Brewery

12 Things To Do during BC Shellfish and Seafood Festival 2017 in Comox Valley, British Columbia

Visiting Media and Chefs Dinner and Meet & Greet at Locals Restaurant

I arrived in the afternoon on June 9 to check-in and unwind. The first agenda for the trip was the Visiting Media and Chefs Dinner + Meet & Greet at Locals Restaurant, one of the participating restaurants for BC Seafood On Your Plate. Chefs and the team from Fresh Fest was at the dinner, along with select locals as well as the ministry of International Trade and International Seafood Buyers Delegates.

We got to meet Locals Restaurant’s Chef Ronald St. Pierre whose menu showcases local foods from Vancouver Island producers. Did you know? In its commitment to close the producer-consumer gap, the menu at Locals actually identify their local suppliers.
Chef Ronald St. Pierre at Locals Restaurant in Comox Valley, British Columbia

I also got to meet Chindi Varadarajulu from L’Attitude 49 Restaurant who flew all the way from India to take part in cooking for the BC Seafood Expo’s International Buyers & Media Reception!
Chindi Varadarajulu from L'Attitude 49 Restaurant in India

For dinner, we got to choose anything from their dinner menu or BC Seafood On Your Plate menu.

Fruit de Mer (BC Seafood On Your Plate appetizer) – Medley of Chinook Salmon Gravlax, Humboldt squid, shrimp, and scallop ceviche, served with local organic greens and Romesco sauce
Fruit de Mer from Locals Restaurant Comox Valley, British Columbia

Seared Jumbo Scallops – Pan seared jumbo scallops and fennel seed infused Tannadice Farms pork belly served on a smooth carrot & ginger puree, wilted winter kale and a lemongrass sauce
Seared Jumbo Scallops from Locals Restaurant Comox Valley, British Columbia

Did you know? Sablefish is Black Cod. I love black cod served in Japanese restaurants and didn’t know it was called Sablefish as well.

Miso Glazed Sablefish – Pan roasted sablefish fillet served on a mushroom and rice timbale with toasted pumpkin seed and Nori crumble and seasonal vegetables
Miso Glazed Sablefish from Locals Restaurant Comox Valley, British Columbia

Gourmet Taster Platter – Pastry Chef Laurel’s selection of a frozen Lemon Meringue Soufflé, Forget me not Cake, Mini Fruit Tartelette, and French Vanilla crème brulée
Gourmet Taster Platter from Locals Restaurant Comox Valley, British Columbia

Big Animal Encounters with Pacific Pro Dive & Marine Adventures

If you’re in such a beautiful island, you definitely want to explore its surroundings. What better way than doing a Whole Day Wildlife Tour to explore local inlets, bays and tidal rapids to search for wildlife. I actually did the Big Animal Encounters with Pacific Pro Dive twice.

First one was a full day from 9am-4pm. We were picked up at 8:15am at the Holiday Inn by Bill Coltart who is the owner of Pacific Pro Dive and who toured us around. We arrived at the Campbell River Discovery Harbour by 9am. After the boat setup and signing of waivers, we got on the boat and explored from Quadra Island and headed north.

First area was Copper Cliffs named because of the copper colors you see on the rocks. We pass by whirlpools and Bill would go on them so we can get a feel what it’s like!
Copper Cliffs with Mansion on left in Comox Valley, British Columbia
Copper Cliffs in Comox Valley, British Columbia

Second stop was Seymour Narrows which is popular because of the explosion of Ripple Rock on April 5, 1958 where 635,000 metric tons of rock and water were displaced, making it one of the largest non-nuclear planned explosions on record.
Seymour Narrows in Comox Valley, British Columbia

We reached Frederick Arm when fellow tourmates shout that they see dolphins. From what I learned, dolphins are very friendly and love human interaction. They normally will come near people and make a show. Unfortunately it wasn’t in our case, we only saw their fins bob up and down the waters as they swam away.
Frederick Arm in Comox Valley, British Columbia

Luckily, my tourmates came prepared as two of them brought binoculars and were excited and looking out for animals. One of them spotted a Grizzly Bear from afar, which we wouldn’t have went to if he didn’t point it out. So on we headed to Phillips Arm to see the grizzly bear, which was my first time!
Grizzly Bear at Phillips Arm in Comox Valley, British Columbia
Grizzly Bear by Tree Trunk at Phillips Arm in Comox Valley, British Columbia

Lunch time! We headed to St. John’s Point to dock for lunch. As Bill prepared lunch, we explored the area. There’s a beach right off the dock as well as picnic tables and actual BBQ Grill (you just need to bring your gas!)
St. John's Point Dock in Comox Valley, British Columbia
St. John's Point Beach in Comox Valley, British Columbia

Bill told us that there’s a small trail that leads to another side with a beach. Along the trail were tall trees.
Tall Trees at St. John's Point in Comox Valley, British Columbia

It is a very short walk as I reach the beach in a few minutes.
Another St. John's Point Beach in Comox Valley, British Columbia

Lunch was finally ready. I was surprised to see that we didn’t use the grill on the island. Bill actually brought his own portable grill and barbecued sausages for us on the boat. In fairness, he said he uses portable because you don’t usually know where you’ll be docking for lunch, which makes total sense.
Sausages in portable grill
Eating sausage with a view of the Islands

After lunch, we headed to Jimmy Judd Island and Big Bay area and spotted sea lions and eagles. There were so many eagles in the area trying to feast on fishes. We actually saw one eagle able to catch a fish but then get attacked by another eagle, resulting in the fish getting dropped back to the waters.
Eagles at Jimmy Judd Island and Big Bay area in Comox Valley, British Columbia

We didn’t see any whales, but at least we saw the grizzly bear! We headed back to the harbour, passing along some other areas like Hole in the Wall.

The second time I attended was on my last day. We did a half day tour with Chris Broadbent. This time, we explored south of Quadra Island, where we spotted the Cape Mudge Lighthouse. This time I also made sure I brought the DSLR which I regretted so much after seeing the grizzly on the first tour.
Cape Mudge Lighthouse at Quadra Island in Comox Valley, British Columbia

We head south all the way to Mitlenatch Island where we first spotted a group of seals lying on the shore. Interestingly enough, some are white colored.
Seals on Mitlenatch Island in Comox Valley, British Columbia

Birds were flying all over the island! A good way for me to test the DSLR.
Seals on Mitlenatch Island in Comox Valley, British Columbia

We get to a part on the island with two groups of sea lions in nearby areas. The sea lions we saw here were better than the first tour as they were putting on a show for us: moving around, making noises, jumping to the water.
Sea Lion jumping on Mitlenatch Island in Comox Valley, British Columbia
Sea Lions kissing on Mitlenatch Island in Comox Valley, British Columbia
Sea Lion swimming on Mitlenatch Island in Comox Valley, British Columbia

We didn’t see whales this tour too! Oh, mother nature! I’m 0 for 3 in Whale Watching Tours.
Big Animal Encounters with Pacific Pro Dive in Comox Valley, British Columbia

Fresh Fest at Coastal Black Winery

One of the signature events for the BC Shellfish and Seafood Festival, Fresh Fest celebrates BC Seafood by showcasing farm-raised seafood culinary tasting stations and BC wine pairings, featuring renowned BC Chefs and BC Shellfish and Seafood producers.

Fresh Fest was held at Coastal Black Winery, an award winning 600 acre estate fruit winery famous for their mead and blueberry/raspeberry sparkling wine.

I was able to try all the food stations, but not all the wines. My favourite dish was Darren McLean’s Shime Salmon Tosa-Mi with its complex flavours but retaining the fresh salmon taste! I love oysters so I loved Nathan Tymchuk’s Oyster Rockefeller, as well as Stellar Bay’s Kusshi Oysters.

Jinhee Lee & Duncan Ly (Foreign Concept, Calgary)
Marinated Fanny Bay Mussels and Pentlatch Seafoods Clams in Tom Yum Tomato Water
Marinated Fanny Bay Mussels by Jinhee Lee & Duncan Ly at Fresh Fest for BC Shellfish and Seafood Festival 2017 in Comox Valley, British Columbia

Trevor Bird (Fable Kitchen, Vancouver)
Westcoast Paella featuring Kyuquot Sound Sablefish, Fanny Bay Mussels and Pentlatch Seafoods Clams
Westcoast Paella by Trevor Biard at Fresh Fest for BC Shellfish and Seafood Festival 2017 in Comox Valley, British Columbia

Rod Butters & Brock Bowes (RauDZ Regional Kitchen, Kelowna)
Northern Diving Sturgeon Pastrami with Okanagan Maple Buds, Rye Crisps, Northern Divine Caviar, Crème Fraîche
Northern Diving Sturgeon Pastrami by Rod Butters & Brock Bowes at Fresh Fest for BC Shellfish and Seafood Festival 2017 in Comox Valley, British Columbia

Ned Bell (Vancouver Aquarium, Ocean-Wise, Vancouver)
Chilled Lois Lake Steelhead Rillette with Lime & Dill Aioli on Sourdough
Steelhead Rillette by Ned Bell at Fresh Fest for BC Shellfish and Seafood Festival 2017 in Comox Valley, British Columbia

Nick Nutting (Wolf in the Fog, Tofino)
Marinated Fanny Bay Clams, Orange, Chili, Almond, Saffron

Ronald St. Pierre (Locals Restaurant, Courtenay)
Cured Creative Salmon Chinook Gravlax with Unruly Gin Shooter, Pickled Rhubarb and Garlic Scape
Salmon Chinook Gravlax by Ronald St. Pierre at Fresh Fest for BC Shellfish and Seafood Festival 2017 in Comox Valley, British Columbia

Siddharth Choudhary (Siddhartha’s Indian Kitchen, Vancouver)
Cardamom and Saffron-Marinated BBQ Cermaq Atlantic Salmon with a Coconut & Roasted Tomato Sauce
BBQ Salmon by Siddharth Choudhary at Fresh Fest for BC Shellfish and Seafood Festival 2017 in Comox Valley, British Columbia

Darren McLean (Shokunin, Calgary)
Shima Salmon Tosa-Mi: Vinegar & Konbu-Cured Skuna Bay Salmon, Shiso Pesto, Chamame Puree, Farmers Ponzu
Shima Salmon Tosa-Mi by Darren McLean at Fresh Fest for BC Shellfish and Seafood Festival 2017 in Comox Valley, British Columbia

Nyle Petherbridge (Kingfisher Oceanside Resort, Courtenay)
Golden Eagle Coho Salmon Tartare with Preserved Lemon, Crème Fraîche, Pickled Sea Asparagus, Crispy Salmon Skin, Pumpernickel Toast
Salmon Tartare by Nyle Petherbridge at Fresh Fest for BC Shellfish and Seafood Festival 2017 in Comox Valley, British Columbia

Nathan Tymchuck (Save-On-Foods/Lion’s Den, Victoria)
Oyster Rockefeller with Herb Panko, Goat Beurre Blanc and Dehydrated Cocktail Sauce. Oysters were provided by Effingham Oysters.
Oyster Rockefeller by Nathan Tymchuck at Fresh Fest for BC Shellfish and Seafood Festival 2017 in Comox Valley, British Columbia

Keith Reid (Stellar Oysters, Bowser)
Kuushi Oysters
Kuushi Oysters from Stellar Oysters at Fresh Fest for BC Shellfish and Seafood Festival 2017 in Comox Valley, British Columbia

Coming from Baynes Sound, BC, these ultimate petit oysters, smooth tumbled shell with a deep cup, plump meat and a bright, mild finish are renowned as one of the highest quality oysters in the world.
Single Kuushi Oysters for BC Shellfish and Seafood Festival 2017 in Comox Valley, British Columbia

Zanatta Winery (Cowichan Valley, BC)

Singletree Winery (Abbotsford, BC)

Fisherman’s Wharf Vessel Tours

We got to visit the Comox Valley Harbour Authorities Fisherman’s Wharf for a guided tour on the commercial fishing industry, stopping at various fishing vessels for a wide range of seafood including salmon, halibut, tuna, shrimp and more.

Travelling Foodie Trivia:
– Fishing licenses can costs between 180-200K for a lifetime license.
– Salmon are sold to stores for around $5/lb in Fall, and filleted ones can go for $15/lb.

Fisherman's Wharf Vessel Tours at Comox Marina in Comox Valley, British Columbia

Salmon Capital Seafood Taste

Did you know? Campbell River is considered the Salmon Capital of the World!

Some fun facts about BC Farm-Raised Salmon:
– Worth over $1.14-billion to the province’s economy
– BC’s #1 agricultural export and the province’s highest valued seafood product
– Accounts for 60% of the salmon raised in Canada and 3% of the world’s salmon production, making it the fourth largest global producer
– 30% of BC’s annual harvest is sold in Canada, 70% is exported

For BC Shellfish and Seafood Festival, Campbell River hosted its first ever Salmon Capital Seafood Taste to showcase its aquaculture industry through a taste of B.C.’s fresh farm–raised fish created by BC chefs. The event featured Courtenay’s rhythm and blues musician, Luke Blu Guthrie.

With a minimum donation of $5/person, all of which got donated to Campbell River Hospital Foundation, people were able to sample from chef-inspired food stations.

Chef Xavier Bauby, International Chef/Culinary Instructor (North Island College)
 for BC Shellfish and Seafood Festival 2017 in Comox Valley, British Columbia

Chinook Gravlax Macaron stuffed with Apple Goat Cheese
Chinook Gravlax Macaron by Xavier Bauby at Salmon Capital Seafood Taste for BC Shellfish and Seafood Festival 2017 in Comox Valley, British Columbia

Chinook Gravlax Macaron by Xavier Bauby at Salmon Capital Seafood Taste for BC Shellfish and Seafood Festival 2017 in Comox Valley, British Columbia

Canned Chinook Salmon with pink peppercorn, rillette wih carrot and lemon jam
Canned Chinook Salmon by Xavier Bauby at Salmon Capital Seafood Taste for BC Shellfish and Seafood Festival 2017 in Comox Valley, British Columbia

Martinated Steelhead Salmon Salad
Martinated Steelhead Salmon Salad by Xavier Bauby at Salmon Capital Seafood Taste for BC Shellfish and Seafood Festival 2017 in Comox Valley, British Columbia

Chef Kathryn Guenette, Wild Blueberry Gourmet Eats
Sake Marinated Kyuquot Sound Sablefish over Crispy Rice Crackers
Sake Marinated Kyuquot Sound Sablefish by Kathryn Guenette at Salmon Capital Seafood Taste for BC Shellfish and Seafood Festival 2017 in Comox Valley, British Columbia

Chef Dave Ryan, Culinary Team Canada Champion
Layered Cermaq Atlantic Salmon Cocktail
Salmon Cocktail by Dave Ryan at Salmon Capital Seafood Taste for BC Shellfish and Seafood Festival 2017 in Comox Valley, British Columbia

Chef Siddharth Choudhary, Siddhartha’s Indian Kitchen
Barbecued “Indian Style” Marine Harvest Atlantic Salmon with Rice
Barbecued Salmon by Siddharth Choudhary at Salmon Capital Seafood Taste for BC Shellfish and Seafood Festival 2017 in Comox Valley, British Columbia

Marine Harvest and Flurer Smokery
Maple Smoked Salmon
Maple Smoke Salmon by Marine Harvest and Flurer Smokery at Salmon Capital Seafood Taste for BC Shellfish and Seafood Festival 2017 in Comox Valley, British Columbia

BC Salmon Farmers Association Tour

This was very exciting as it was the first time for me to visit a salmon farm. We went all the way to the marina at Sayward, BC and took a water taxi to the Hardwicke Island Salmon Farm, while passing through the Seymour Narrows.
Sayward, BC Marina for BC Salmon Farmers Association Tour

Water Taxi for BC Salmon Farmers Association Tour in Comox Valley, British Columbia

We learned about salmon and the farm, and how the sustainable farming is done to meet the demand for salmon while protecting the natural environment.

There are 10 square pens (36M long x 36M wide x 20M deep), placed in two rows of five. They have nets on top to prevent birds from swooping down on them, but also at the bottom to prevent marine animals from preying on them.
Salmon Pens at Hardwicke Island Salmon Farm in Comox Valley, British Columbia

Current inventory is 742,000 fish at an average weight of 4kg. The fishes are fed with 17 tonnes of feed per day. They actually stay from 18-24 months in the pen. It was amazing to see the salmon actually jumping out off the water.
Salmon Jumping at Hardwicke Island Salmon Farm in Comox Valley, British Columbia

 for BC Shellfish and Seafood Festival 2017 in Comox Valley, British Columbia

Despite being on the water, there are actually 5 employees that live on-site and rotate shifts. We got to see upstairs where it’s setup like an apartment would be with bedrooms, living room, kitchen and balcony looking out into the pens.
 for BC Shellfish and Seafood Festival 2017 in Comox Valley, British Columbia

Chef’s Shellfish Showdown at 40 Knots Winery

The Chef’s Shellfish Showdown was a gala of 9 specially prepared courses from renowned chefs paired with 40 Knots wines. The event is held at 40 Knots Vineyard and Estate Winery, the largest grape winery in the Comox Valley and one of the largest on Vancouver Island with its 24 acres.
Chef's Shellfish Showdown at 40 Knots Winery for BC Shellfish and Seafood Festival 2017 in Comox Valley, British Columbia

Live jazz style music was played by Easy Street: Annie Handley and Dave Devindisch who have teamed together playing songs from the 1940’s to the current songs of today.

The three chefs who battled that night were:
Chef Alain Chabot of Chez Vous Artisan Foods, Black Creek
Chef Andrew Shepherd of Vancouver Island Salt Company, Cobble Hill
Chef Ian Blom of The Old Firehouse Wine & Cocktail Bar, Duncan

For the showdown, the chefs actually battled to be the diners’ favourite: we got to vote at the end on which one is our favourite by putting a shell among 8 different jars (8 non-dessert courses). My favourite was Chef Alain’s Chez Vous Rockefeller, then Chef Andrew’s Cowichan Pasta Crab & Shrimp Ravioli, which ended up winning the showdown!

Sea Salt Cured Spot Prawns 2 Ways by Chef Andrew Shepherd
– Atop Ancient Grain Crostini with Tequila Citrus Cream Cheese, finished with Local Hazelnut Oil, Lime & Cracked Pepper
– Accenting Local Quail Eggs, Devilled with Pickled Ginger Infused Aioli & Cilantro
Paired with Spindrift Brut
Sea Salt Cured Spot Prawns Atop Ancient Grain Crostini by Chef Andrew Shepherd at Chef's Shellfish Showdown for BC Shellfish and Seafood Festival 2017 in Comox Valley, British Columbia
Sea Salt Cured Spot Prawns Accenting Local Quail Eggs by Chef Andrew Shepherd at Chef's Shellfish Showdown for BC Shellfish and Seafood Festival 2017 in Comox Valley, British Columbia

Chez Vous Rockefeller by Chef Alain Chabot
Local oysters, Amara Farm’s Chard, Gunter Brother’s Pork Jowl
Paired with Ziggy Siegerrebe
Chez Vous Rockefeller by Chef Alain Chabot with 40 Knots Wine at Chef's Shellfish Showdown for BC Shellfish and Seafood Festival 2017 in Comox Valley, British Columbia
Chez Vous Rockefeller by Chef Alain Chabot at Chef's Shellfish Showdown for BC Shellfish and Seafood Festival 2017 in Comox Valley, British Columbia

Chili Poached Spot Prawns by Chef Ian Blom with Cucumber Noodle, Coconut Vinaigrette, Lemongrass, Kaffir Lime & Cilantro
Paired with Gewürztraminer
Chili Poached Spot Prawns by Chef Ian Blom with 40 Knots Wine at Chef's Shellfish Showdown for BC Shellfish and Seafood Festival 2017 in Comox Valley, British Columbia
Chili Poached Spot Prawns by Chef Ian Blom at Chef's Shellfish Showdown for BC Shellfish and Seafood Festival 2017 in Comox Valley, British Columbia

Deep-fried Sidestripe Shrimp & Grits, Creole Sidestripe Shrimp Bisque by Chef Alain Chabot
Paired with Rosé
Deep-fried Sidestripe Shrimp & Grits, Creole Sidestripe Shrimp Bisque by Chef Alain Chabot at Chef's Shellfish Showdown for BC Shellfish and Seafood Festival 2017 in Comox Valley, British Columbia

Vancouver Island Sea Salt Cured Wild Pacific Salmon by Chef Andrew Shepherd with Crisp Latke, Fresh Asparagus & Lime Hollandaise Sauce
Paired Pinot Gris
Vancouver Island Sea Salt Cured Wild Pacific Salmon by Chef Andrew Shepherd at Chef's Shellfish Showdown for BC Shellfish and Seafood Festival 2017 in Comox Valley, British Columbia

Char-Grilled Pacific Octopus by Chef Ian Blom with Oyster Salsa Verde, Fennel & Pickled Ramps
Paired with White Seas
Char-Grilled Pacific Octopus by Chef Ian Blom at Chef's Shellfish Showdown for BC Shellfish and Seafood Festival 2017 in Comox Valley, British Columbia

Halibut by Chef Alain Chabot with Natural Pasture’s Ricotta, Merville Organics Spinach Gnudi, Local Wild Mushroom & Spring Vegetable Fricassee
Paired With Uncloaked Chardonnay
Halibut by Chef Alain Chabot at Chef's Shellfish Showdown for BC Shellfish and Seafood Festival 2017 in Comox Valley, British Columbia

WINNER: Cowichan Pasta Crab & Shrimp Ravioli by Chef Andrew Shepherd with Wild Morels, Spring Onions & Brown Butter
Paired with Gamay Noir
Cowichan Pasta Crab & Shrimp Ravioli by Chef Andrew Shepherd with 40 Knots Wine at Chef's Shellfish Showdown for BC Shellfish and Seafood Festival 2017 in Comox Valley, British Columbia
Cowichan Pasta Crab & Shrimp Ravioli by Chef Andrew Shepherd at Chef's Shellfish Showdown for BC Shellfish and Seafood Festival 2017 in Comox Valley, British Columbia

Desserts from Hot Chocolates & Cakebread Artisan Bakery
– Champagne & Cassis Ganache in Dark Chocolate Shells
– Parisian Meringue with a white chocolate, Lavender & Strawberry Centre
Paired with Safe Haven
Desserts from Hot Chocolates & Cakebread Artisan Bakery at Chef's Shellfish Showdown for BC Shellfish and Seafood Festival 2017 in Comox Valley, British Columbia

Fanny Bay Oysters Plant Tour

Fanny Bay is home to the world famous Fanny Bay Oysters, owned by Taylor Seafoods (USA). Aside from being growers, processors and exporters of Pacific oysters and Manila clams, they are also owners of hatcheries, nurseries and farms.

I love oysters, and I’ve been a big fan of Fanny Bay Oysters so I was excited to be visiting the processing plant for a tour and learn about them. General Manager, Brian Yip, gave us the tour.

Though the processing plant and farm is in BC, the hatchery is actually in Hawaii because of the warm weather. They are able to draw water from the ocean at varying temperatures which allows them to maintain a steady flow of water and temperature to produce the larvae and seed.

Outside the plant, you’ll see a beach with a lot of empty oyster shells. Some of them are crushed to be used as chicken feed or for landscaping and other things. But it is also used to grow oysters.

The larvae from Hawaii along with the empty oyster shells, thoroughly cleaned, are set on a big pool. When the larvae swim, they will attach to the shell. Once they attach, they are given 2-3 months time until being harvested to ensure there is another oysters in the shell. A good ratio is 6-8 baby oysters per shell. After which, they are spread around the beach to grow.

Empty Oyster Shells at Fanny Bay Oysters Plant in Comox Valley, British Columbia

When the oysters are harvested from the beach, they are brought to the processing plant, and refrigerated – nothing is frozen. The products get processed in the day time, and, at night time, are taken to Vancouver and goes to the airport to be shipped.

Travelling Foodie Trivia: Patrick McMurray, aka Shucker Paddy, holds the Guinness World Record for the most oysters shucked in 1 minute: 38 oysters.

Manatee Holdings Hatchery Tour

We got a tour and overview of Manatee’s Royston Hatchery operation including Geoduck, Sea Cucumbers, Scallops and Oysters.

Eric Gant is the owner of Manatee Holdings and is considered to be a world authority on Geoduck Clam Aquaculture, having pioneered the wild Geoduck Clam Fisher in British Columbia.

On a rooftop overlooking the site, he explained his mission and vision, and the issues in todays seafood industry. His site has 20 hectars of ground that are under culltivation, and 60 more to go which will take an estimated $14 million to develop.
Manatee Holdings Hatchery for BC Shellfish and Seafood Festival 2017 in Comox Valley, British Columbia

According to Eric, they recognize that destroying the surrounding ecology may show you short term profit but it is long term disaster. Therefore, their mandate is to “create the most environmentally beneficial food production operation on land or sea anywhere in the world”, and they have hard pragmatic ways to do that.
Eric Gant on Manatee Holdings Hatchery Tour

Their advantage is having a long history as fisherman so they fully understand the animal and the wild so they know what the animals are like and what helps in their surrounding ecology. As an example, Eric himself has put in 8,000 hours (~334 days) as a commercial diver. This helps them, as an agriculturalist, to create the kind of environment needed.
Geoduck on Manatee Holdings Hatchery Tour

One big thing I learned from Eric during the tour: Fisheries are collapsing and we need to move to towards an environmentally beneficial form of aquacuilture as the cure. In Canada alone, 36 species have been driven to commercial extincion. In a recent paper just pubilshed, 300 species worldwide are recognized as commercially extinct. Commercially extinct differs from totally extinct wherein the species still do exist, but not at harvestable quantities e.g. abalone in the west coast.
Baby Sea Cucumber on Manatee Holdings Hatchery Tour

BC Seafood Expo Trade Show

Hosted in downtown Courtenay Filberg Centre and Native Sons Hall, BC Seafood Expo held industry seminars and speakers, business development networking events bringing together renowned seafood and aquaculture industry leaders, businesses and educators.

There was a keynote speaker on each day of the expo:
– Marketing BC Seafood with Terry O’Reilly, host of CBC Radio’s Under the Influence
– Farmed & Wild Fish, It’s All Seafood with Chef Ned Bell, Ocean Wise Executive Chef

There was a lunch and networking session where we got to check out various exhibitors in the Trade Show.
Lunch at BC Seafood Expo Trade Show for BC Shellfish and Seafood Festival 2017 in Comox Valley, British Columbia

Omega Pacific Hatchery
Established in 1987, Omega Pacific Hatchery has a variety of species of fish grown exclusively in freshwater like Thunger Mountain Trout, Gold Coho and Chinook Salmon, Silver Coho and Chinook Salmon, and White Sturgeon. They’ve been dedicated to advancements in Pacific Salmon Culture since 1980.

Coastwise Organics
Coastwise Organics produces gourmet canned certified organic and humanely harvested king salmon that is canned fresh in British Columbia. Coastwise showcased 3 different cans that can be enjoyed straight out of the can:
Skinless and Boneless, Traditional Style (Skin On/Bone In), and With Organic Maple Syrup (Skinless & Boneless)

Pacific Urchin Harvesters Association
Sea urchins from BC’s Pacific waters are harvested by scuba divers. The Pacific Urchin Harvesters Association are committed to providing the highest quality and best value of sea urchin possible by having a model of sustainability and innovation in their processes.

Sea urchins are one of the world’s most highly sought after seafoods because it is appreciated around the world as a delicacy especially in Japan where it is a premium sashimi item.

Did you know? There are two species of sea urchines present in BC: the Green sea urchin, and the Red sea urchin which is the largest sea urchin in the world.

BC Coastal Grilling Planks
BC Coastal Grilling Planks specializes in cedar based products, prouced from West Coast Western Red Cedar, including cooking wraps, gourmet grilling planks, roasting boards and applying plates with wine glass cut-out, which are all proudly made on Vancouver Island, B.C.

Salish Sea Foods
Wholly owned by the K’omoks First Nation, Salish Sea Foods is a 7,000 square foot, HAACP certified processing plant committed to providing seafood from BC, from Pacific Salmon, oysters and clams, to sustainably raised aquaculture fin fish.

Walcan – SeaChange Seafoods
SeaChange Seafoods offers Canadian seafood gifts including West Coast Smoked Salmon and a variety of seafood pates.

BC Seafood Expo: International Buyers & Media Reception

On the first day of the expo, the venue gets transformed at night for the International Buyers & Media Reception where BC Seafood Expo delegates, VIPs, plus 30+ Ministry of International Trade Seafood Buyers and visiting media got immersed in a seafood tasting journey.

There were 14 Chef Stations where international and domestic chefs presented an array of shellfish and seafood dishes, with some locally produced pork, bison and beef stations. There were 7 drink stations as well.

Among my favourites were the Coho Salmon in pepper masala by Chef Chindi, the Mirin & tamari marinated sablefish by Chef Nigel, the Garlic prawns by Chef Ikeda, and the Barbecued Chinook with Pesto by Chef Ronald.

The most unique would be Chef Chindi’s station where you get to watch her and Chef Ganesh in action as they twirl, twist and flip the paratha and make them fresh.

On a drinking note, I was really impressed with the spirits from Wayward Distillation House, especially the Wayward Order – Depth Charge: Cacao Bean Liqueur with Cold Pressed Coffee, Espresso and Organic Cocao Nibs, which was perfect for the coffeeholic in me! All their spirits are made with 100% BC Honey.

Here’s a rundown of what I tried in the reception:
Ronald St. Pierre (Locals Restaurant, Courtenay) – Barbecued Chinook with Pesto
 for BC Shellfish and Seafood Festival 2017 in Comox Valley, British Columbia

Billy D’s Pub & Bistro (Courtenay) – Clam Bake
 for BC Shellfish and Seafood Festival 2017 in Comox Valley, British Columbia

Parallel 49 Brewing Co. (Vancouver) – Tricycle Beer
 for BC Shellfish and Seafood Festival 2017 in Comox Valley, British Columbia

Nigel McMeans (Blackfin Pub, Comox) – Mirin & tamari marinated sablefish, fiery gingered yam puree, hibiscus reduction
 for BC Shellfish and Seafood Festival 2017 in Comox Valley, British Columbia

Ikeda Kenji (Ban Dao Pearl Restaurant and Peninsula Seafood Restaurant, Vancouver) – Albacore tuna sashimi and garlic prawns
 for BC Shellfish and Seafood Festival 2017 in Comox Valley, British Columbia

Aaron Rail (White Whale Restaurant, Courtenay) – Marinated Spot Prawn Salad
 for BC Shellfish and Seafood Festival 2017 in Comox Valley, British Columbia

Fanny Bay Oysters
 for BC Shellfish and Seafood Festival 2017 in Comox Valley, British Columbia

Geoffrey Davidson (Harbour Towers Hotel, Victoria) – Half Shell Light House Oysters, Tabasco Slush, Horseradish & Pickled Bull Kelp
 for BC Shellfish and Seafood Festival 2017 in Comox Valley, British Columbia

Laura Agnew (As You Like It Catering, Courtenay) – Smoked Salmon, Bison, Beef and Pork
 for BC Shellfish and Seafood Festival 2017 in Comox Valley, British Columbia

Nathan Fong (Fong on Food, Vancouver) – Sauteed Razor Clams with Ginger Scallions and Fermented Black Bean on Crostini
 for BC Shellfish and Seafood Festival 2017 in Comox Valley, British Columbia with nathan fong
 for BC Shellfish and Seafood Festival 2017 in Comox Valley, British Columbia

Quail’s Gate Winery

Blue Grouse Estate Winery (Duncan)
 for BC Shellfish and Seafood Festival 2017 in Comox Valley, British Columbia

Chindi Varadarajulu (L’Attitude 49, India) – Coho Salmon in a pepper masala, poached in a mild curry of spices, pepper and coconut milk topped with crispy curry leaves served on fresh paratha
 for BC Shellfish and Seafood Festival 2017 in Comox Valley, British Columbia

E Michael Reidt (Pilgrim Culinary, Miami) – Geoduck Ceviche, smoked avocado, freekeh, spiced corn nuts
 for BC Shellfish and Seafood Festival 2017 in Comox Valley, British Columbia

Chance Wilke (Avenue Bistro, Comox) – Incredible Black Cod Creation
 for BC Shellfish and Seafood Festival 2017 in Comox Valley, British Columbia

Averill Creek Vineyard (Duncan)
 for BC Shellfish and Seafood Festival 2017 in Comox Valley, British Columbia

Freddy Raoult (The Nest, Shanghai) – Steamed clams with sake-lemongrass-lime leaves and ginger
 for BC Shellfish and Seafood Festival 2017 in Comox Valley, British Columbia

Wayward Distillation House (Courtenay) – Unruly Gin and Vodka
 for BC Shellfish and Seafood Festival 2017 in Comox Valley, British Columbia

BC Craft Beer & Exhibitor Reception at Gladstone Brewery

Last event during my trip was the BC Craft Beer & Exhibitor Reception at Gladstone Brewery, a relaxing kick-back type of reception where you can try some Gladstone beer, some wines and some Mac’s oysters while mingling with the exhibitors.
 for BC Shellfish and Seafood Festival 2017 in Comox Valley, British Columbia

Gladstone Brewery
Originally started in a garage in Victoria, BC, Gladstone Brewing Company has established its brewery in Comox Valley, focusing on Belgian ales, European lagers and Pacific Northwest style IPAs.

I got tried their Belgian Single because I prefer light less-hoppy beers, and I tend to love Belgian beers with Stella Artois being my favourite. The Belgian Single was light, dry body and very refreshing, reminding me exactly why I love Belgian beers.

Macs Oysters
Owned and managed by the original farms, the McLellan family, Mac’s Oysters is an integrated shellfish farm, processor and exporter.

We got to try both some freshly shucked Signature Beach Oyster and the Ship Point Oysters.


BC Shellfish and Seafood Festival 2017 Photo Album here.



Discover Comox Valley
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Comox Valley Economic Development
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DISCLAIMER: Though this was an all-expense paid press trip with Discover Comox Valley, all opinions are my own.

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