Despite it making up nearly half our landmass, few Canadians have travelled to the north: Yukon Territory, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut. Indeed, accessing the area is tricky, with little railway or waterway infrastructure, and air travel options both pricey and scant.
Still, images of electric-green northern lights, mystical narwhals, and playful polar bears capture our imagination and hold real estate on many travel bucket lists.
Now, the dream has become more attainable, thanks to prolific imaginator, Canadian culinary ambassador, and Edible Canada president Eric Pateman, who has partnered with Air North, Finisterra Travel, and some of Canada’s top chefs to create a once-in-a-lifetime trip across the top of Canada from June 16 to 23, 2017.
Commencing in Vancouver, a private jet will take 60 passengers and a concierge team to Whitehorse, Yellowknife, Rankin Inlet, Iqaluit, and St. John’s to experience cuisine, culture, and geography across the whole expanse of the north.
“The ability to see this country from coast to coast generally takes over a month, but we will be doing it in eight days…”
“The ability to see this country from coast to coast generally takes over a month, but we will be doing it in eight days over the summer solstice with the best culinary talent in the country,” says Pateman of the whirlwind itinerary.
“I fell in love with the north and the ability to experience more of it became a personal bucket list item for me,” he says. “I want to give people the opportunity to explore the vastness of what makes Canada unique, and this trip comes at a perfect time to celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary.”
The trip begins in Whitehorse with a foraging trip led by The Boreal Feast author and local chef Michele Genest. At the end of the day, guests are treated to a long table dinner on a private island under the midnight sun, prepared by Genest, as well as Whitehorse’s Inn on the Lake executive chef and owner Carson Schiffkorn, and the travelling chef team of Pateman, Ned Bell (Chefs for Oceans, Vancouver), Rob Gentile (Buca Osteria and Bar, Toronto), and Derek Dammann (Maison Publique, Montreal).
“Some very exciting wild foods could be in season at this time—spruce tips, rose petals, juniper berries, wild greens—but we won’t know until the last minute,” says Genest of the opportunity to share “the little-known, the unexpected, and the surprising.”
“Guests will also learn about the habitat that provides our northern bounty and the tremendous diversity of the northern flora and fauna that makes its way to our tables,” she says.
“It’s going to be an extraordinary week full of firsts—new people, new traditions, new foods, new flavours.”
The unique venues and collaborations continue in Yellowknife with Aboriginal chef, Chopped Canada competitor, and restaurateur Robin Wasicuna on day three, as he’s supported by the travelling chefs to prepare an aviation-themed, multi-course dinner in an old airport hangar.
“I’m beyond excited,” says Bell of the diversity and surprises in store for guests and chefs alike. “It’s going to be an extraordinary week full of firsts—new people, new traditions, new foods, new flavours.”
Bell, who made a more southerly coast-to-coast trip by bicycle in 2014 in his tireless support of sustainable seafood initiatives (find his recipe for wild-caught salmon and warm chickpea salad here), founded Chefs for Oceans to raise awareness for Canada’s rivers, lakes, and oceans, and now leads the Ocean Wise program’s culinary team as executive chef.
“We often forget the Arctic Ocean borders northern Canada,” says Bell. “We’re the only country in the world that’s surrounded by three of the major oceans!”
Visit www.acrossthetopofcanada.com for more information.
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