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Scallop MasterClass, BC Seafood Festival 2024

There’s Something About Scallops MasterClass

This weekend we were at the BC Seafood Festival, celebrating its 16th year atop of Mount Washington. We had signed up for a handful of long table meals, and social events, but my favourite were the MasterClasses. In particular the “There’s Something About Scallops MasterClass”.

This was presented by West Coast Wild Scallops, BC’s only wild scallop fishery. Fourth generation scallop fisher Melissa Collier and her family had teamed up with the talented Chef Will Lew (once the Executive Chef of the Versente Property, where I first met him, now of Pacific Reach) to bring us the workshop today. Chef Will is also one of the official OceanWise chefs and was once the Executive Chef for OceanWise. Therefore, was the perfect ambassador to represent scallops and the unsung heroes of the ocean like seaweed.

Acknowledgement was given to all the producers who aided in making this workshop a reality, including our kelp producer for the wraps and the micro greens producer for the decorative and edible flowers.

Throughout the class we learned more about local scallops fished off Quadra Island by this small scale fishery harvesting swimming and pink scallops.

This was coupled with an immersive cooking experience that had us preparing two scallop dishes, like only how Chef Will Lew would. Each, a piece of art as delicious as he taught you how to make it look.

Walking in, I was immediately impressed by the set up and presentation. The front table was decorated with scallop shells, buoys, and the actual nets used to fish for scallops. The class size was also triple that of our class before, and our hosts needed microphones to be heard all the way at the back.

I was thankful that we learned from the last class to arrive early and claim the front row seats for the best view. Without televised screens to watch from, not doing so would make it impossible to see what our Chef was doing at the front of the room.

At each ticket holder’s work station we got a collection of ingredients to share between two. This included soy sauce and a Chinese style chilli crisp, two types of tobiko dyed yellow and green, pink salt, a furikake that Chef Will’s team made themselves with spot prawn heads, and even a chunk of uni. Plus two premixed pastes featuring smoked scallops and a squeeze bottle of Chef Will’s secret mayo-based sauce.

On a separate plate we got sheets of Nori dry and seaweed wet, sushi rice, julienned thin cucumber and radish, and slices of avocado. Looking down, it was easy to guess that we would be making sushi.

We also got a miniature display of the chef’s table before us. A piece of netting, a wooden stump, and a shell that we would place our finished dishes on, in what Chef Will promised would be a spectacular presentation, and he did not disappoint.

As we watched and attempted to follow along, we were given glasses of rose from South End Farm Winery, a small farm winery on Quadra Island, who are cousins of our Collier family hosts.

This was their 2022 Bara rose, a young wine with much of its minerality in tact. It had a chemical taste that was tart to start with bitter rhubarb and green apple, but ended waterlogged. I was not a fan of it as is, but it grew on me and was better paired with the flavours of our two courses to come. There it offer some acidity to help cut into the intended rich topping flavours.

The class started with rolling sushi using bamboo mats to shape. Our step by step tutorial had us learning the hard way why we wet our surfaces and hands when pushing sushi rice over a dry piece of seaweed rib side up. We were taught the intended recipe, but also had the ability to be creative given how much food we had before us. In hindsight I wish I did just that considering how much we didn’t use.

Although I took the Chef’s advice and made a donburi with the excess rice, making sure to not waste a dot of tobiko, from what was leftover after the class.

We would prepare a cucumber and avocado maki, roll it up, slice it into 5 pieces, then top with a dollop of the wet smoked scallop paste, followed by a blob of Will’s mayo sauce.

This would be torched at our tables for a nice char on the cream. Then topped with the pink salt and spot prawn furikake.

This was delicious, the flavours were right up my alley and furthered with a dip in their light soy.

Next we made a kelp pocket, which was much quicker. Considering the intricacies of the class, I wish we had more time, to enjoy the activity as apposed to racing to complete it.

Using the wet square of kelp, we stuffed it with the drier of the two smoked scallop pastes, then and topped it with the uni, before wrapping it up like a burrito in the square.

Then placed on the decorative wood stump topped with a crunchy crumble of chicharrón. Then up upon its perch our packet is given a squeeze of mayo and torched along with the kelp sleeve to finish.

I enjoined the bold flavours and unusual textures, but did find it a shame to use the uni like this. As one of my favourite seafood items for its unique umami flavour, it is completely lost here.

As a whole, I was utterly impressed with the class, and took the time to express it to Chef Will. I deemed this the most worth while MasterClass, and my favourite event of the weekend.

For more on this year’s BC Seafood Festival and how to attend next year’s celebration, visit the link below.


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