Fernie has produced a strong culinary scene for many years and it just keeps getting better. This week saw the pre-opening of the Smokehouse in the Red Tree Lodge with the call to action, “Attention all food lovers, the Smokehouse is ablaze!” I attended the soft opening with my son and we can attest that the food is amazing.
Established local chefs Keith Ilavsky and James McDonald have launched Fernie’s Smokehouse. They have focused on Cajun-inspired slow-cooked smoked dishes and the menu is robust with options for everyone including vegetarians.
Keith is originally from Winnipeg and he has been working in the culinary industry for decades. He learned his trade in Banff and most recently in Fernie at the Livery, Island Lake Lodge and the Cirque. Keiths passion in the Smokehouse menu comes from the slow cooking of comfort foods with in-house barrel and box smokers. His favourite dish on the menu is the Apple Smoked Pork Belly (pictured below).
James, or Jimmy, is from Edmonton and has also spent his working life in the culinary industry, and many years beside Keith. Jimmy’s inspiration is cooking fresh and healthy food from scratch and the menu attests to this. His favourite dish is the Hickory Smoked Braised Brisket Sandwich. (pictured below)
Southern classics are given a sophisticated make-over in dishes like their hushpuppies cornmeal fritters with smoked jalapeno and ginger honey, or their blackened red snapper served with salsa verde, sweet potato infused polenta frites, smoked eggplant, roasted red peppers, grilled avocado and pickled tomatillos.
Thoughtful dressings such as their smoked peach and white balsamic vinaigrette complete delicious salads, and for something more different try the smoked vegetable ratatouille.
The official opening for the public is Friday June 1st. You will need to add this food experience to your bucket list!
By Dan Savage