It was a perfect way to introduce himself to Galiano Island.
Josh Blumenthal, in his new role as chef at Bodega Ridge resort, embraced Gulf Island generosity by cooking at a recent fundraising event supporting the Access to Media Education Society (AMES). The evening’s menu revealed him to be a passionate fan of seasonal produce, meat, and seafood drawn from the land and waters surrounding Galiano.
It takes half an hour to drive across the island from end to end, passing lush forests of red cedar, Douglas fir, and arbutus; idyllic farms; rocky coves; and hidden beaches. Blumenthal’s journey to Galiano has been a little less straightforward: after graduating from the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts in Vancouver, he developed his skills and passion for cooking with local products at some of the city’s most celebrated restaurants, including West and Bishop’s, and spent time in Michelin-starred kitchens in England and Scandinavia. Blumenthal has spent recent years focusing on his pop-up dinner company, Elementa, but he felt drawn to the sustainable food culture and unique terroir of Galiano.
The AMES dinner drew heavily from these inspirations: Clayoquot seaweed intertwined with kale and puffed rice; ling cod pulled from the Trincomali Channel (the strip of ocean separating Galiano from Salt Spring Island) and steamed in kelp; and slow-cooked lamb with celeriac and onions from Galiano Sunshine Farm. For dessert, Blumenthal stuck to his roots, showcasing chocolate from East Van Roasters alongside porcini profiteroles.
In Bodega Ridge’s lodge, warmed by a sleek three-sided fireplace, locals and visitors enjoyed dinner, followed by live jazz music and a spirited auction featuring works by local artists. In the end, more than $6,000 was raised for AMES, supporting the use of media arts to facilitate youth-led community development and education.
This was just the first of many locally-sourced meals crafted by chef Blumenthal. With summer ahead, the resort will come alive with weddings, dinners, and other special events, and Blumenthal will become a familiar face among the tight-knit island community. But as far as first impressions go, Blumenthal’s—buzzing with generous friends and neighbours, celebrating the edible treasures of the region—couldn’t have been better.