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Friday Afternoon Cooking Class - Experience 3, The Culinarians
Sooke Harbour House, Sooke, B.C.
” I am most interested in indigenous, regional and seasonal cuisine. The people and the culture behind the food are equally important to me as is how the food tastes; taking food, culture and nature and incorporating everything in a way that puts the most respect onto a plate.” – Chef Robin Jackson, Oct. 23, 2011
Robin Jackson is an avid hiker, kayaker, fisherman, and a keen wild foods hunter. He is particularly knowledgeable of wild regional mushrooms and many of his menus highlight dozens of varieties of fungi throughout the year. He brings another dimension to an already well-established philosophy of local, seasonal , organic, and wild foods at Sooke Harbour House.
A natural born chef, Robin started in the kitchen before he could even reach the counter, helping his mother, a chef, caterer, cooking class teacher and a food writer in northern California. At the age of 13, Robin entered his first professional kitchen at California Pasta Productions before moving to the Sugar Bowl Ski Resort and later to San Francisco where he continued his cooking career. Next came Alaska and the Alyeska Hotel where Robin ran five restaurant outlets at the age of 19. Alaska in its beauty and abundance of wild fresh ingredients forever engrained the love and respect for the food we grow, gather and forage for and for the natural world and our connection to it in Robin’s mind. In order to familiarize himself with additional techniques, and fascinated with Japanese cuisine, Robin also worked in sushi and Teppanyaki kitchens and to further hone his skill as a chef and understanding of ingredients.
At the same time, Robin enrolled in to the University of Alaska where he studied biology, chemistry, the flora and fauna of the North West Coast and vastly expanded his knowledge of wild foods and ingredients used by the indigenous peoples. Robin continues to travel around the world and to gather knowledge and information about world cuisine , indigenous ingredients, and peoples. He recently returned from a trip to the Andes where he deepened his understanding of some of Sooke Harbour House staples such as tuberous nasturtiums and tuberous begonias in their wild habitat and brought home more seeds , ideas and techniques.
Sooke Harbour House has long been an experimental training ground for some of the most creative chefs in the world. Chefs like Michael Stadtlander, Rene Fieger, Melissa Craig, Andrea Carlson, Peter Zambri, Brock Windsor, Marc-Andre Choquette and many others have left their mark at Sooke Harbour House. Now Robin is crafting his own style of food based on many of the same principles and using same rich organic gardens and the Sooke Harbour House Farm to supply the restaurant with the freshest seasonal ingredients and the best fresh herbs and edible flowers. He is also an active Slow Food member and works to promote the values of Slow Food internationally. Robin continues the tradition of culinary experience at Sooke Harbour House and not only serves great local food, but educates the diner about wonders of wild indigenous foods, edible flowers, herbs, mushrooms and sea vegetables available to all right in our backyard.
Sooke Harbour House
- Governor General’s Nation’s Table Award for Mentorship and Inspiration, June 2010
- Gold Award for Best Vancouver Island Restaurant, from 1989 to 2010,Vancouver Magazine
- Most Excellent Eco-Resort', Conde Nast Johansens, Awards for Excellence, January 2010
- Gold List, World’s Best Places to Stay, Condé Nast Traveler, January 2009
- One of Canada’s Top Five Hotels”, Travel + Leisure, January 2009
- Grand Award, One of the World's Best Wine Lists, Wine Spectator Magazine, August 2009
- Fodor’s Choice establishment 2008
- Sooke Harbour House was the first recipient of Eat Magazine’s Green Star Guide of Local Food and Drink Hero Award, Eat Magazine, December 2008
- Corporate Environmental Award: Leader in Environmentally Responsible Tourism”, Tourism Victoria, 2004 Audubon International Green Leaf Eco-Rating Program, Four Green Leaf Hotel”, the highest eco-rating in British Columbia, 2004
- Ranked number eight ‘World’s Best Service’, Travel and Leisure Magazine, Reader’s Poll, June 2007
- Best Small Inn in North America, Readers poll and editors of Mountain Living Magazine, January 2007
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