Tag Archives: The Fairmont Empress

Chef Morgan Wilson Q at the Empress


Chef Morgan Wilson from the Fairmont Empress Hotel doesn’t have far to go to compete for Gold Medal Plates, as he’s Victoria-based, but that doesn’t make it any easier. We learn a little more about his thoughts on trends before the competition.

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Tell us a little bit about your restaurant and/or style of cooking.

Q at the Empress is focused on local flavors of the Pacific North West, with a focus on seafood and seasonal ingredients sourced from local farmers, fishers and markets.

Where do you eat in your city?

I like to discover smaller restaurants, one that I’m fond of right now for breakfast is Jam Café, great vibe and food.

What would be your ideal food day?

Somewhere in France enjoying all the great cheese and wine

What trend do you wish would die?

Gluten free baked goods, eating gluten free can be achieved by simply avoiding foods that have flour.

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What trend/s do you wish would be next?

A return to simpler cooking. We, as Chefs, with the rise of molecular cuisine, sous vide etc., have gotten very good at the technical aspects of cooking food and have been exploring that for quite some time. I would like to see that better understanding of how to perfectly cook a piece of meat or a vegetable focused into fewer ingredients on the plate, with less fuss the flavors that are there will shine.

What ingredient do you always have on hand?

Onions, this is a building block for so many recipes I really can’t live without them.

What’s your go-to recipe when you’re eating at home?

A good old spaghetti Bolognese.

What equipment do you wish you had in your kitchen?

Time machine

What cookbook would you suggest for a gift for your foodie friends this year?

Give grandma a call and get a copy of her recipes, always the best food at grandma’s house!

Any hints on what dish you will be preparing for Gold Medal Plates?

Quack quack

cab franc

What wine/beer/libation are you pairing with this year?

Tinhorn Creek Oldfield Series Cabernet Frac

Who is coming with you?

Mark Butschler from Tinhorn Creek will be pouring, I will have a great team of our cooks from the Empress assisting.

News from Fairmont Hotels

Fairmont Official Host Hotels of Vancouver 125

Think of a landmark hotel around the world and chances are it’s a Fairmont property. Fairmont is a natural fit as host hotel group for Vancouver’s 125th anniversary celebrations as few hotels can boast their communities literally grew up around them the way Fairmont can. From 1887, when ground broke on the first Hotel Vancouver to 2010 when we opened the contemporary Fairmont Pacific Rim property, we’ve celebrated a rich history with Vancouver. As such, we are pleased to announce Fairmont’s official support of the City of Vancouver’s 125 celebrations in anticipation of “Summer Live,” a weekend of Vancouver 125 celebrations this coming July 8 to 10. Stay tuned for several consumer prizes we’ll be offering in partnership with Helijet. www.celebratevancouver125.ca


Seafood Sundays at ORU

ORU at Fairmont Pacific Rim in Vancouver has recently introduced a Sunday night seafood buffet. Both locals and visitors can now enjoy a delicious seafood haul prepared by ORU chefs, fresh from the Pacific Ocean. Guests can sample local delicacies such as oysters, honey mussels, seafood paella, “catch of the day” and a selection of Chef’s signature sushi and nigiri. It’s a great way to taste the bounty of the Pacific Northwest. See here for more info on the restaurant. www.fairmont.com/pacificrim

New Brews at The Fairmont Empress

The Tea Lobby at The Fairmont Empress has been serving up Victoria’s grandest tradition of Afternoon Tea for decades. Recent additions to the hotel’s tea offerings include an Evening Tea that allows guests to experience Afternoon Tea during evening hours (Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Monday nights during summer months with seatings from 7pm to 9pm); and a signature “1908 Cocktail” that shakes up tea-infused vodka (made with signature Empress Blend tea) with fresh lemon and egg white (named after the year The Empress opened). www.fairmont.com/empress

13 Kinds of Oysters Prepared Nine Ways

Boasting the beautifully carved oak paneling and unique tin ceiling of the haberdashery (men’s outfitter) it once was during the 1930’s, Shuckers is one of Seattle’s oldest (and most loved) oyster bars and brims with 13 different kinds of oysters prepared nine ways (don’t miss the Olympic baked oysters made with Dungeness crab, tomato hollandaise, bacon and bell pepper). Happy hour takes place every Monday to Friday from 3pm to 5pm with $1.25 local oysters, great value cocktail and beer specials, Bay shrimp cocktail, and steamed clams and mussels. See here for more information on Shuckers. www.fairmont.com/seattle

Taste History at Griffins – $23 Tasting Menu and Early Bird Discount

In celebration of 123 years of history in Vancouver, Griffins Restaurant in The Fairmont Hotel Vancouver is offering a $23 three-course dinner menu featuring dishes such as Griffins’ signature Caesar salad and grilled sirloin steak with marinated Portobello mushroom plus the hotel’s fully-loaded dessert buffet. In addition, Griffins is also offering an early bird discount of 50% off all dinner menu items from Sunday to Wednesday for diners who come in from 4:30pm to 6:00pm. See here for the full dinner menu at Griffins. www.fairmont.com/hotelvancouver


The Fairmont Waterfront Rewards Guests for Driving Green

The Fairmont Waterfront has announced a new incentive for guests to “drive green” as part of the hotel’s ongoing commitment to sustainability. Guests who arrive at the hotel in hybrid or electric cars will be rewarded with complimentary valet parking for the duration of their stay. “We feel strongly that this is the right thing to do,” said Ian Pullan, general manager for the hotel. “This incentive is a fun way to reward our guests for joining us in the quest for a greener planet.” The Fairmont Waterfront is a leader in sustainability and responsible tourism and is continuously looking for innovative ways to reduce their environmental footprint. The hotel has also been awarded “Five Green Keys” as part of the Green Key Eco-Rating Program. www.fairmont.com/waterfront


Grand Fromage Package Celebrates All Things Cheese

Love cheese? Us too! The Fairmont Hotel Vancouver is offering a “Grand Fromage” package that promises a two-night wine and cheese extravaganza in Vancouver – from a private farm tour and hands-on cheesemaking experience at Farm House Cheeses in Agassiz to a dinner for two at the city’s finest artisan cheese purveyor’s restaurant, Au Petit Chavignol, we’ve got you covered for an authentic BC cheese vacation. See here for current rates and details. www.fairmont.com/hotelvancouver

Park, Dream + Jet Package

The Fairmont Vancouver Airport has announced a “Park, Dream + Jet” package that includes long-term parking. Whether you’re jetting off for a weekend getaway or an extended vacation, the hotel now offers the option to leave your car behind. Package includes a one night stay plus parking in YVR’s long term parking lot with a complimentary shuttle to the terminal – starting from $259 for a one night stay plus four nights of parking (7, 14 and 21 nights of parking are also available at a higher rate). See here for current rates and details. www.fairmont.com/vancouverairport

“Take Root at Fairmont” Packages Show it’s Easy to be Green

Paying tribute to UNESCO’s 2011 International Year of the Forest designation, Fairmont has whittled out “Take Root at Fairmont” travel packages that reinforce and reflect the brand’s decades-long commitment to combining responsible tourism and environmental stewardship. In the Pacific Northwest, we’re fortunate to have some of the most spectacular old-growth temperate rainforest. The following are just a sample of these packages. For a full listing of packages, please visit www.fairmont.com/promo/takeroot.

  • The Fairmont Waterfront – Treetops and Totem Poles: This package takes visitors to one of Vancouver’s most popular attractions, the Capilano Suspension Bridge. The park’s “Treetops Adventure” offers visitors the opportunity to have a squirrel’s eye view from the forest canopy on a series of suspension bridges high up in the treetops. Totem Park, on the other hand, demonstrates First Nations craftsmanship on towering carved totem poles. New to the park this year is “Cliffwalk,” a series of suspended walkways along the granite cliff face above Capilano River. Package includes one night’s accommodation and admission to Capilano. See here for current rates and details. www.fairmont.com/waterfront
  • The Fairmont Vancouver Airport – Birds & Bees: This package invites guests to learn about the hotel’s honeybee program as well as explore nearby Iona Beach Regional Park, one of the best locations to see rare birds such as burrowing owl and yellow-headed blackbirds. The package includes one night’s accommodation, complimentary use of the hotel’s BMW bicycles (to travel to Iona Beach), a $35 credit towards a “Food for Flight” picnic and a souvenir jar of the hotel’s signature honey, produced by the million or so bees that reside on the Vancouver International Airport’s land at McDonald Beach Park. See here for current rates and details. www.fairmont.com/vancouverairport
  • The Fairmont Olympic Hotel – Evergreen Package: Package includes one night’s accommodation at The Fairmont Olympic in Seattle, a custom three-hour outdoor adventure with Evergreen Escapes and a hand-blown Glassybaby votive candle (hand-blown by a local artist with $4 from each candle donated to Conservation International). Guests that travel via hybrid or electric vehicle will also receive complimentary valet parking during their stay. See here for current rates and details. www.fairmont.com/seattle


Toast Your Toes with a Summer Pairing

Toast the summer – and your toes – with a signature pedicure in Fairmont Pacific Rim’s Willow Stream Spa followed by a complimentary cocktail paired to the colour of your polish in the Lobby Lounge. Our bartenders are up for the challenge – from summery pinks to ocean turquoise, jet black… and everything in between! See here for Vancouver’s Willow Stream Spa details. www.fairmont.com/pacificrim

K-Lift Age Management System = Fast + Visible Results

Willow Stream Spa at Fairmont Pacific Rim in Vancouver has introduced the latest in skincare science with “K-Lift” age reversal treatments that provide visible results in a short amount of time. Facial treatments use the “Age Management System” from Kerstin Florian – a device that combines three high-performance energy technologies to address and treat the aging process – producing immediate lifting and firming, restoring dermal density, increasing collagen production, reducing lines and smoothing wrinkles. Try the 60-minute “Lift & Tone Facial,” an energy treatment that includes a deep cleanse and exfoliating multi-acid peel plus 40 minutes of LED Red Light and Impulse Micro-Current, or the 20-minute “K-Lift Express” treatments for quickie lifts. See here for more details on K-Lift treatments. www.fairmont.com/pacificrim

Friends Who Spa Together… Save Together

Recognized by Condé Nast Traveler magazine readers as one of the Top 10 Resort Spas: Canada, the Willow Stream Spa at The Fairmont Empress is an urban oasis in the heart of Victoria. This summer, the spa is offering a great summer promotion for groups of four or more friends who spa together. Each guest will receive $25 off any 90-minute body experience, a bento box lunch and a signature summer tote bag. Victoria’s Willow Stream Spa offers over 75 aesthetic and spa treatments plus the complimentary access to the spa’s Hungarian mineral pool, eucalyptus steam room and sauna with all services. Try the “Evergreen Coast Infusion” (a full body masque and exfoliation followed by a massage with an evergreen-inspired essential oil blend). See here for more details on the spa. www.fairmont.com/empress

Wine Islands Vintners Association Tasting

Spring is upon us and the team and I are busily planning the third annual Taste: Victoria’s Festival of Food and Wine July 21-24, 2011.  The schedule-in-progress is listed on the website www.victoriataste.com/2011-calendar-of-events and ticket sales will begin in May.  Stay tuned for further details!

If you’re interested in doing a whole lotta wine tasting next week, come out to the Wine Islands Spring Tasting next Tuesday April 19th at the Fairmont Empress.  Buy your tickets on line www.wineislands.ca or pick up in person at locations listed below.  Authors of “Island Wineries of British Columbia” will also be in attendance (yes, that includes me!).  You can pick up a copy at the tasting and chat with the authors and vintners featured in this great new book.

Buy your tickets!

The Wine Islands Vintners Association is inviting the public to their annual spring tasting on Tuesday April 19th from 6:00 pm – 8:30 pm at The Fairmont Empress.  With over 26 wineries, cideries, meaderies and distilleries participating, there will be lots to try!  Come meet the friendly faces behind the local products and see what’s freshly pressed, fermented & bottled for 2011.  Pick up a copy of the Wine Islands Passport for 2011 and meet the authors of the newly released book, Island Wineries of British Columbia.

Tickets are $39 and are available online through PayPal here and at any of the following locations:

Special afternoon Trade Tasting 2-4pm for industry.

Shaken and Stirred – USA takes on Canada

The ultimate Battle of the Chefs unfolds as The Fairmont Newport Beach’s Executive Chef, Chad Blunston challenges The Fairmont Empress’ Executive Sous Chef Ken Nakano in an international rival. Each skilled chef will be challenged to create five decadent courses, paired with five masterful classic cocktails.  Chefs Blunston and Nakano will be judged on gastronomic flair including appearance, taste and complementary classic cocktail pairing. The  event promises to electrify Victoria with pure culinary entertainment and fierce rivalry coupled with James Bond – 007 sophistication and glamour. Victoria’s sparkling Crystal Ballroom at The Fairmont Empress will serve as a backdrop to the friendly battle on February 24, 2011 at 7:00pm. 

“We are absolutely delighted to showcase our culinary talent at Fairmont,” adds Martin Leclerc, General Manager, The Fairmont Empress.  “To have the opportunity to pair the meal with cocktails and challenge a peer adds to the mystique of the event”, he adds. “Undeniably The Fairmont Empress’ has a competitive advantage on home turf,” notes Paul Ohm, General Manager, Fairmont Newport Beach. “Our culinary brigade is poised for a heated competition.” Each Chef will be critiqued by a panel of Victoria-based foodies including Kathy Kay, Keira-Anne Mellis, Shelora Sheldan and Treve Ring. Ultimately, the winning Fairmont Chef will brandish bragging-rights as the winner of Shaken and Stirred.

Tickets for this event are C$160 per person exclusive of taxes and gratuities, or $128 for Friends of the Empress. Reservations and information at (250) 389-2727 or www.fairmont.com.  For more information on becoming a Friend of the Empress, visit www.friendsoftheempress.ca. Graciously sponsored by Finlandia Vodka.

Guests are invited to “take the elevator home” at The Fairmont Empress from C$99 and invited to join the after party in The Bengal Lounge to celebrate the victorious Chef.

The Fairmont Empress majestically rises over Victoria’s Inner Harbour. This luxury hotel showcases the spirit and energy of Vancouver Island in grand style. With turn-of-the-century beauty, The Fairmont Empress resort regally captures the grandeur and elegance of a bygone era, while the facilities and services meet the needs of today’s traveler. Whether it is world renowned Afternoon Tea, the newly renovated Fairmont Gold, 18-holes of world-class golf or a soothing treatment in the award winning Willow Stream Spa at The Fairmont Empress, this luxury castle on the coast in Victoria offers the perfect escape from the stresses of a hectic lifestyle. From exhilarating ocean-bound whale watching safaris, epicurean-rich local cuisine to picturesque garden and vineyard tours, you will be awestruck by the countless experiences The Fairmont Empress, Victoria and Vancouver Island has to offer! For more information or reservations, please call 1-250-384-8111 or visit www.fairmont.com/empress.

Located in world-class destinations around the globe, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts is a celebrated collection of hotels that includes landmark locations like London’s The Savoy, New York’s The Plaza, and Shanghai’s Fairmont Peace Hotel. With more than 60 hotels, Fairmont is known as much for its warm, engaging service and culturally rich experiences, as its classic hotels that imbue a sense of heritage, sophistication and social importance and are often considered destinations in their own right. A community and environmental leader, Fairmont is also regarded for its responsible tourism practices and award-winning Green Partnership program. Fairmont is owned by FRHI Holdings Limited, a leading global hotel company with over 100 hotels under the Fairmont, Raffles, and Swissôtel brands. The company also manages Fairmont and Raffles branded estates and luxury private residence club properties. For more information or reservations, please call 1-800-441-1414 or visit www.fairmont.com.
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