Interview with Terry Pichor, Executive Chef of Sonora Resort
--> 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 TableTalkNorthwest.com.
Terry Pichor, Executive Chef of Sonora Resort
To understand Chef Terry Pichor's cuisine, you first must understand the Sonora Resort. Located in the Discovery Islands in British Columbia, the luxurious eco-adventure resort is accessible only by helicopter and seaplane, and that means that it's surrounded by pristine coastline teeming with Canadian delicacies, including sea grasses, mushrooms and shellfish. The recipient of two medals at the Gold Medal Plates, Chef Pichor draws inspiration from his bountiful surroundings, serving such dishes as Quadra Island Scallop with pickled wild kelp, miner’s lettuce, organic shiitake mushrooms, and bonito butter. Further, he travels abroad regularly to learn from his fellow chefs, and he has quick access to international ingredients through Vancouver. The result is comforting yet luxurious dishes that hit a five-star culinary standard.
1. How do you describe Northwest cuisine?
This is a hard question to answer. The food of the Pacific Northwest is influenced by so many different cultures and ethnic backgrounds, and this plays into fine dining menus all over the major cities. I’ve eaten some of the best Japanese food, French food, Italian food, Thai food, Indian food, and it’s all here, good and bad. I don’t think there is a place in North America where people care more about the raw ingredient and where it is sourced, and this sets a high standard for the suppliers of local produce. The foods that are found in the wild are abundant and always have a place on my menus. The seafood in the Northwest is second to none. We are blessed in this part of the world, and when I travel and cook in other places, its always something I think about.
2. Who are six of your favorite purveyors that you regularly work with?
Two Rivers Specialty Meats
Benton Brothers, for cheese.
They all have great service and they all stand behind the quality of the product.
3. When you go out for a nice meal, what are two or three of your favorite spots?
4. Who are two other Northwest chefs that you admire? Why?
Chef Joel Watanabe of Bao Bei— Nobody can duplicate his food. It’s unique. It has its own style and is always delicious.
David Hawksworth and Kristian Eligh of Hawksworth Restaurant— They run one of the only modern fine dining restaurants in Vancouver. The menus are constantly changing, interesting and delicious. David trains the best cooks in the industry, and after two years at Hawksworth, you can go anywhere. I’m big fan of the Hawksworth Young Chef Scholarship Foundation. It’s a great idea, and the young cooks love the competition.
5. In your opinion, is there an area of Northwest cooking that doesn't receive enough attention?
Off the top of my head, I can’t really think of any.
6. Looking toward the future, what are you most excited to do in the kitchen?
The area continues to attract great chefs because of the quality of local produce and seafood. I’m excited to see the many young talented chefs coming up through the ranks and what they are going to bring to the table. I’m just looking forward to the 2015 season and getting back into the kitchen and continuing to develop new ideas for the tasting menus as they come to mind. I’m lucky that I get to cook in the spring and summer, when the ingredients are most fresh and available.
Sonora Island, Discovery Islands