Interview with Chef Mark Filatow, Executive Chef and Sommelier at Waterfront Wines

The following interview was made possible by the NW Tastemaker, a culinary travel publication forthcoming from Northwest Travel Magazine. To read more interviews with the best chefs in the Pacific Northwest, visit Northwest Travel Magazine and

Chef Mark Filatow, Executive Chef and Sommelier at Waterfront Wines

In 2005, Chef Mark Filatow opened Waterfront Wines, a casual fine-dining restaurant located in the city of Kelowna in the lush Okanagan Valley, British Columbia. Chef Filatow cooks with both ingenuity and humility, and when asked about his dishes, he always spotlights the purveyors that he works with, whether a local winery or "the bicycle farmer," an artisan who delivers whatever's freshest to the restaurant's back door—by bike, of course.

Chef Filatow's ability to accentuate the incomparable flavors of Okanagan produce and other local culinary ingredients is where the magic happens. His in-kitchen ingenuity concentrates natural flavors, and his dishes range from the most asparagus-y asparagus soup you'll ever eat to Berkshire pork loin served with a whey and pickled shallot jus.

Before opening Waterfront Wines in 2004, Chef Filatow cooked beneath Chef Rod Butters at Tofino’s Wickaninnish Inn; Chef John Bishop at Bishops Restaurant; and Canadian Iron Chef, Michael Noble, at Diva at the Met Restaurant. He is a sommelier certified by the International Sommelier Guild, and his focus on Okanagan wines has resulted in five consecutive Wine Spectator “Award of Excellence." Additionally, for the past six years, Waterfront Wines has been named the ‘Best Okanagan Restaurant’ at the Vancouver Magazine Restaurant Awards.

1. How do you describe Northwest cuisine?

To me, Northwest cuisine is based on the idea of cooking with ingredients that are on our doorstep. Staying in season, and cooking with what's around us. It's about celebrating what we have.

The cooking methods are where we can break out and look to other cultures for inspiration. At Waterfront, we use everything that we can find locally and insert it into classical or really old school preparations. Staying true to the ingredient, and staying with-in the context of our season is key. Not always trying to re-invent the wheel, but striving to do it well, and keeping the ingredients at the forefront.

2. Who are six of your favorite purveyors that you regularly work with?

Sweet Life Farms— Owner John Cox the potato farmer test grew russets for us until he found us the right one. He is a stickler to detail. It took me three years to convince him to grow russets. Now he keeps us in supply ten months out of the year.

Arlo's Honey Farm— Helen Kennedy has great honey, especially if she captures the elderflower honey. But she's not just about honey! She does great garlic, raspberries and English peas. But her asparagus is best of all. She harvests the spears at 4-5inches.

Wild Moon Organic Berkshire— Richard has built a legacy-type farm growing fantastic pork. He will hold them an extra month for us to ensure some nice back fat! We get in whole animals and break the entire pig down and process it into our various charcuterie.

Stoney Paradise— Milan is the ultimate tomato farmer. He only picks his tomatoes when they are ripe, and he has nailed down the varieties for sugar, flavor, acid and texture balance. Also, he grows the best French beans. We only call him The Tomato Man because it sounds better than The Bean Man.

Claremont Ranch Organics— Molly and Matt bought this old orchard a few years ago. They keep us deep in supply of heirloom apricots, peaches, plums, pears and apples like Gravenstein, Cox orange, and Boskop.

Scott Moran— Our Forager. He is a young guy with a hunger for wild edibles. He challenges our notion of ingredients and forces us to read up on the uses for milkweed pods, bullrush, chokecherry blossoms and endless mushrooms.

When you go out for a nice meal, what are two or three of your favorite spots?

L'Abattoir and La Quercia, both in Vancouver.

Who are two other Northwest chefs that you admire?

Nicholas Nutting at The Wolf in the Fog in Tofino. Maybe I am just jealous of the seafood or his seemingly relaxed approach.

Lee Cooper of L'Abattoir in Vancouver. He's always fine-tuning, always evolving, never standing still.

5. In your opinion, is there an area of Northwest cooking that doesn't receive enough attention?

This is a hard question. I feel that bitterness as a flavor is often overlooked and, even, avoided. Rather than an area in cooking it's more of a flavor component. It has a great place if used in the right amounts. Too often, sweetness is the flavor that is built upon.

6. Looking toward the future, what are you most excited to do in the kitchen?

I am really looking forward to working with more wild foods. I'm also really excited about the uprising of locally grown animals. Breaking down whole animals, cooking parts with fire and curing other parts has been an exciting time for us. As well, I'm excited about wild fermentation. We are lacto fermenting tons of different things, and it is forcing us to look back in our research to see what was done 200 years ago.

Waterfront Wines
#104 – 1180 Sunset Drive
Kelowna, BC, V1Y 9W6


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