Whole Beast brings local ingredients to the Empress

Featured Farmer program profiles Pacific Northwest foods

Cory Pelan

Cory Pelan

Cory Pelan, owner of the Whole Beast and the Village Butcher, is sharing his wares with a host of new customers, thanks to aprogram initiated by the Fairmont Empress Hotel.

As part of the Fairmont Empress’s Featured Farmer initiative, Oak Bay’s Whole Beast is showcased through March in theEmpress’ Q restaurant, part of the hotel’s recent renovations.

“They approached us after they re-opened with Q and I think they decided to go with a much more artisan, community-minded approach with serving local ingredients,” Pelan said.

The program started in January with Honey Mussels, before Northern Divine Caviar took centre stage in February. So far,March’s Whole Beast menu “is probably the most successful we’ve done,” said Doug Chant, restaurant manager for Q at theEmpress. “The general concept for the restaurant was showcasing the Pacific Northwest and the beauty and bounty we havein our own backyard,” Chant said.

Coming up next is Victoria’s Finest at Sea in April.

Q already featured a charcuterie board of Whole Beast products but through Featured Farmer, is able to showcase a widerarray of offerings.

Among the Pelan’s featured items are: chicken liver parfait with grilled brioche, apricot jam and pickled vegetables; smokedham hock country pate, with radishes, pistachio granola and charred cipollini onion; and Whole Beast bangers, with rusticmashed potato, onion jus and black mustard.

All three are selling well, although the light, whipped parfait is a definite hit.

“It’s probably the break-out star for the feature,” said Chant, who also tries to pick up Whole Beast bangers when abarbecue invite is on the calendar. “It makes me the star of the barbecue,” he said with a laugh. “You can taste the passionthat goes into the products for the Whole Beast.”

The chicken liver parfait is also one of the top sellers through the Oak Bay Avenue store. Attractively packaged in a masonjar, it’s a popular locally crafted hostess gift or an easy option for an attractive party plate.

“As far as customers are concerned, it’s the whole package,” Pelan said.

Beyond the food items on offer, the Q menu also talks about the featured producer: “Cory Pelan, owner and operator of TheWhole Beast, has a passion for hand-crafting artisan cured and smoked meats. Using traditional techniques and ethicallyraised heritage breed animals, Cory and his team of chefs hand-make all of the products in house. Operating out of sharedspace with The Village Butcher, The Whole Beast offers the top-quality artisan meats in Victoria, British Columbia.”

While Pelan and the Empress chefs have built a relationship, working closely to develop the menu items, the initiative hashelped raise the Whole Beast’s profile with a wider audience, Pelan said.

“It’s excellent. They’re a great organization and we don’t partner up with just anybody… It’s a great partnership for ourpublic relationships and marketing. That’s a great benefit of a partnership like that.”

It also helps prompt conversation around buying local.

“It gets people talking. It really opens up the conversation,” Chant said.