Fairmont Celebrates Canada 150 with Heritage Dinner Series
The year 2017 marks the 150th anniversary of the Confederation of Canada, also known as Canada 150. What better way to honour Canada's sesquicentennial than exploring 150 years of cultural heritage through the senses? Fairmont Hotels & Resorts launched the Canada 150 Heritage Dinner Series to celebrate the anniversary and highlight its devotion to the culinary arts over the years. Staying true to their reputation for hosting the hottest soirées, The Canada 150 Heritage Dinner Series features era-inspired feasts and transports guests into the late 19th and early 20th centuries. To-date, three Heritage Dinners have taken place at Fairmont Le Château Montebello, Fairmont Le Château Frontenac, and Fairmont Banff Springs, with five more planned throughout 2017. Each of these three hotels presented a one-of-a-kind experience to honour its region’s unique history and offerings, and the dinners still to come promise to do the same.
These special dinners unite Canadians and global visitors alike with Canada's traditional legacies of food. Menus showcase extraordinary dishes curated from menus past, such as the Tomato Essence with Basil Pearls and Pink Peppercorns amuses-bouche taken from a Halloween Supper Dance menu of 1926, the Xeres Beef-Consommé and Riopelle de l’Isle Cheese-Stuffed Profiteroles from a January 1950 menu, and the Omelette Norviégienne and apple-and-maple Baked Alaska with Coureur du Bois liqueur from the Corps Canadien des Commissionaires dinner menu of 1973.
To create authentic menus and décor that evoke the glamorous cocktail parties and banquets from the past 150 years, Fairmont worked with Eric Pateman, the founder of Edible Canada and the man behind the Canadian Table dinner series in Vancouver. His insights helped create a tapestry of tastes, which bring each region’s gustatory history to life. Glowing candelabras illumined formal tables set with heritage dinnerware and cutlery on linens with custom menu cards and recipe takeaways. Live pianists played the epoch’s best tunes as staff in heritage attire served pre-dinner cocktails and signature historical drinks to smiling guests.
When asked what he found most notable during his research process, Pateman explained the history of Canada’s cuisine with elegant simplicity. “In my research related to the Canadian Heritage Dinner series, it was intriguing to discover how little the foundation of Canadian cuisine has changed in over a century, and also how hard we are working to recapture the magic of this era. One hundred-fifty years ago, cuisine was all about what was available in the region from the land, and those ingredients were prepared with the influence of the culture of the people who were primarily English, French, and Indigenous," Pateman said. "Fast forward to today, as a nation we are still focused on showcasing the amazing ingredients and resources we have on our lands, be it seafood, meats, vegetables, or wild foraged foods. The difference is, we have far more cultural influences present and the blending of those cultures, Indian, Chinese, Ukrainian, French, English, Japanese, Greek, Italian, and so many more, is what currently creates our unique cuisine.”
As co-host for the dinners, Pateman brought his research to life and provided guests an introduction and background behind everything from the oysters to the intricate vintage touches. He defines Canadian cuisine as, “local, seasonal, sustainable [and] in the hands of many cultures,” which may sound optimistically idyllic, yet rings perfectly true. One case in point was noted at Fairmont Le Château Frontenac's dinner, “The fact that we were able to source oysters from a supplier that was the same one that would have been used 100 years ago, speaks volumes to the products we have and the sustainability of the ingredients.” Guests relished traditionally sourced dishes, like the oysters, while gaining new appreciation for the food and beverages that have thrived throughout time and have come to define the region.
Prior to serving the main course, the Fairmont Hotel chefs were introduced and given opportunity to speak to their dishes. It's a special treat for guests to hear what goes into the making of the Elk and Wild Boar Terrine en Croute with Saskatoon Berry Chutney and Pickled Pearl Onions at Fairmont Banff Springs, or the Lobster with Royal Truffle Butter at Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac. One evening's charm and allure was captured in Fairmont Le Chateau Montebello’s video.
No matter the location, flutes were raised, bubbly enjoyed, and a timeless camaraderie formed for all in attendance. Timelines blurred, history resurrected as a feast for the senses, and guests cherished the regional culture and flavours in celebration of Canada 150.
Fairmont Hotels invites you to learn more about the Canada 150 Heritage Dinner Series and to celebrate the anniversary with style, while toasting to the rich cultural history from coast to coast. Whether you choose dinner at Fairmont Royal York, afternoon tea at Fairmont Hotel Vancouver or another of the food-themed events at Fairmont Hotel MacDonald, the culinary heritage of Canada awaits you.
Courtney Lochner is a writer based out of Chicago but frequently escaping to Europe. Passionate for all things food, wine and travel, her work has been published in magazines like Glamour Magazine, Inspirato, and Runway Live, and her short story became a film produced by Moxie Pictures.
Photo Credit: Dan Kellighan Photography