Chefs dominate the wild "Untamed Kootenays"

Chefs dominate the wild “Untamed Kootenays”

Sixty lucky guests were treated to a special night of culinary excellence at Island Lake Lodge's third annual Untamed Kootenays event on June 8.

Sixty lucky guests were treated to a special night of culinary excellence at Island Lake Lodge’s third annual Untamed Kootenays event on June 8.

In addition to the skilled team of chefs at Island Lake Lodge, the group welcomed Italian mountain chef Andrea Campi to their kitchen. Together they prepared a five-course meal, each paired with a wine or sherry of choice.

Campi is known worldwide for thinking outside the box. The Italian chef took on the challenge of bringing high-quality cuisine to the slopes. A professional kitchen installed on a Prinoth snow groomer – Snowlicious – is becoming a tradition on many slopes in North America.

Island Lake Lodge CEO Doug Feely kicked off the evening by welcoming the guests, many of whom were social media influencers and foodies from far and wide, and explaining how excited the Lodge was to once again present the Untamed Kootenays event.

“It’s a pretty special evening that we look forward to, year-round,” said Feely.

“If you haven’t been to Island Lake before, you’re going to see not only the beauty outside, but the beauty that we put out of the kitchen as well.”

This year marks Island Lake Lodge’s 30th anniversary; a milestone for the company.

Director of Sales and Marketing Mike McPhee said he’s proud of how the company has evolved. He believes their culinary program for the upcoming summer season is their best yet.

The first course of the evening, presented by Island Lake Lodge executive chef Keith Farkas, was a morel and yarrow panna cotta, with morel jus and preserved lemon emulsion.

The second course, presented by Campi, was a nettle spaetzli, with sage beurre noisette, reggiano and bacon.

“This is a very, very old recipe,” said Campi, describing his dish. “… It is very famous, it is a food of the mountain. So this is the right place for this (dish).”

The third course – the first main of the night – was a citrus cured Arctic char and fiddleheads with fennel puree, rhubarb and caper vinaigrette, fermented black bean and puffed wild rice. This dish was presented by Island Lake Lodge sous chef, Mark Butcher.

Mike Bye, Chef de Partie, presented the second main of the night; a Bolter beef loin cooked sous vide (vacuum sealed and cooked in a water bath), served with cured and smoked egg yolk, dandelion chimichurri, and fingerling crisps.

The final course, presented by Farkas, was sweet and subtle; a cedar and green tea mousse with pistachio genoise, cedar gel and an intense, flavourful cedar candy.

Campi said his experience at Island Lake was excellent; from the intimacy with the customers to the knowledge gained from working with the other chefs whom he praised for their talent.

He added that this was very different from his experiences in Italy.

“It’s a different kind of kitchen,” said Campi. “I belong to very true traditions. Here, I found a new kind of kitchen. Very close to the environment… it’s quite different.

“In Italy, it’s quite heavy, (the) kitchen, it’s (like) you know, television, TV shows. Here, the cooking (is) like playing. There is a very nice relationship between the chef and the customers. It’s not an exam, you know. It’s only a (time) in which we can feel emotions, together. It’s nice – it’s genuine.”

The road to international success was not easy for the Italian chef. Like many others, he started as a dishwasher and worked his way up, eventually launching his own business with his newfound skills.

Campi has travelled to Canada many times through his work with the mobile snowcat kitchen. He has developed a love for the land, which makes him want to stay forever.

To view Island Lake Lodge’s summer menu and learn more about the many experiences offered at the mountain retreat, visit

The Free Press attended Untamed Kootenays compliments of Island Lake Lodge.

The Free Press