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CrabFest’s Kitchen Party, BC Seafood Festival 2024

This weekend we travelled to the island to attend the 16th annual BC Seafood Festival. This is a celebration of locally sourced and sustainable seafood and fishing practices in support of our coast’s family own and run fisheries.

The occasion was held on Mount Washington at the Alpine Resort, for the second year in a row. This was once the training grounds for the athletes competing in 2010’s Vancouver Winter Olympics, and now the home of all things fish and shellfish related this weekend.

The location is remote, there is no transit and driving is necessary to reach it, but in exchange you have plenty of sprawling room and a mountain top view of the Comox Valley below. Where else can you slurp oysters at this altitude?

Seeing as this is my second BC Seafood Festival, I could not help but compare it to my first go in 2018. That year it was held within the city centre of Comox, where it felt a lot more hectic with more outposts and locations to travel to. Whereas here, everything was within walking distance of one another.

The festival comprises of individual events, seminars, lunches, breakfast, and dinners. Where guests have the ability to sign up for whatever interests them. And if you time it just so, you have the ability to attend many back to back sessions. The following are the meals and Master Classes we attended, across a few posts.

Majority of them included a glass of wine or cider, but for the most part drinks were pay as you go with a handful of bars offering beers, coolers, and wines in all shades and by the bottle.

We would lean heavily on Mission Hill’s 2022 Rose as a tart wine to pair with the light and raw seafood, with enough body and flavour to sip well with heavier seasoned bites the likes of self serve dips and hot sauces.

Starting with the CrabFest’s Kitchen Party, which would be our first event when we arrived Friday late afternoon. This was Presented by the BC Crab Fishermen’s Association and the VI CrabFest. Held outdoors under the event’s main tent, this would be a hosted as long table dinner.

The event began with opening remarks from Ned Bell, Chef ambassador for the entire BC seafood festival, Oceanwise, and BC seafood in general. He spoke to the food to come and the additional crab boils available to the island. Then he encouraged the audience to buy BC seafood, stating that if it is too much in cost, to simply eat smaller portions of it.

The Crab Fest itself was a good old fashioned East-coast meets West seafood boil. Whereas I was expecting a table of seafood poured out to sort through, as you helped yourself to whatever meets your fancy. This was portioned out servings and each ticket holder had a curated bowl prepared by the Festival Chefs. And this was more than enough food for one person.

As we ate and revelled in how delicious it all was, we were serenaded by the local folk band, The Whiskeydicks. They broke out the fiddles and helped to keep us on pace as we picked crab meat from shell. Their style of music was uplifting and jovial, it had you moving your feet and clapping to the beat.

You are invited to go hands in, easily breaking apart legs and claws with the aid of individual nut crackers. In the boil mix were 2-3 crabs with attached legs, boiled mussels, corn segments, nugget potatoes, and a dinner roll. The serving was flavourful on their own, but worlds better with a splash of either one of Anh and Chi’s signature sauces: their fish sauce or sweet chilli. They added acidity and brightness, helping to change the taste and rejuvenate bites.

As a spectator it just would have been nice to witness the large pot of seafood being boiled and stirred to life. The spectacle would have added to the feast. And although there were napkins on the table, it would have been nice to have bibs to protect our clothes from the spray, and wet wipes to mop up with afterwards. Many of us receded into the building to use the running water. Although the tap was a push to activate, and the time it ran was short, with the need to push and release several times after that. Not to mention how much we had to scrub with soap to get all the oils off.

But once clean and full, you can enjoy the rest of your wine and head to the dance floor to shake off some calories. The Whiskeydicks continued to play well into the evening mixing their country twang with pop culture classics the likes of James Bond’s Old Eye theme. It certainly got the crowd on to the dance floor.

Then to keep the party going we receded into the Alpine Building’s basement bar. Where the Irish folk band Hounds of Cuchulain would be performing live. They performed rousing drinking songs, sea shantys, and melodic tunes featuring the harp and tin whistle.

Guests enjoyed the live performance while they drank from the bar. We even got up the courage to dance a little, with everyone else that drank a little more.

Then we headed back to our Chateau Cona accommodations to rest up for a full day of seafood ahead.

For those who missed it and are interesting in learning more about BC’s sustainable seafood practices, as well as make note on how to attend next year’s festivities, visit the link below.


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