When you walk into the small dining room of Alta Bistro one of the first things you see is a wall of
brightly coloured different sized jars. The “Canning Library” of Alta Bistro is an ever evolving, ever
changing expression of the seasons. It highlights what the cooks have been peeling, slicing, blanching
and steaming in the previous months. However, there are more reasons than just looks to its presence
in the room.
Alta Bistro is located in the centre of Whistler Village, a bustling seasonal resort which suffers from
two very slow seasons. During the slow times the owner/operator team of Edward Dangerfield, Eric
Griffith and Nick Cassettari understand the importance of keeping staff in work. So Chef Nick has set
up a canning program that helps keep the boys busy. The produce coming from the Pemberton and
Okanagan valleys is abundant and discounted in fall, exactly the time that business almost grinds to a
Keeping kitchen staff busy in the fall enables them to get paid! This is essentially an investment in the
greatest asset of the restaurant; its staff. This keeps softens the blow of the slow season, increases staff
moral and reduces staff turnover. Retraining costs are then also reduced.
The use of discounted bulk produce that is preserved and used over the coming months helps reduce
food cost. The enables a saving to be passed onto the consumer, and a price competitive 3 course table
d’hôte style menu is possible.
Waste is reduced as produce that may have not made it to a customer’s plate is processed and stored,
and used up as demand increases during the busy winter.
The carbon footprint associated with the transportation of fresh produce in winter can be reduced, as
local produce from the fall can be served all winter long. Local farmers are therefore supported more,
as money that would have gone to unknown distant farmers stays in the local economy.
Customers are able to take away souvenirs form Alta Bistro, in the form of preserved fruit, vegetables or
house made jams and chutneys.
Canning is promoted to guests both visually, and through the inclusion in the menu. Hopefully more
people will then take time to preserve local produce, and use it themselves throughout the winter
There are many canning guides online. Canning is a great way to support local farmers, improve the
local economy, create a decorative feature, and reduce our carbon footprint. Find out what is seasonal
and get some jars ready!