CREW & A: Chef Erin Vickars
We’re lucky to have Erin Vickars working aboard Passing Cloud and as Outer Shores’ head chef. Born and raised in Vancouver, Erin has a passion for locally sourced food. That, and her adventurous approach to cooking make her an invaluable member of our team.
What do you love about cooking?
Everything. I’m such a hopeless romantic about it. I love that it is so challenging and so humbling. For me, it’s been a really personal journey. It’s pushed me outside of myself and forced me to develop not just as a cook, but also as a person. It’s also taken me places. I’ve seen the world and met so many talented people. It’s a career that I’ll never perfect so it’s a lifetime of evolution. It’s really been the greatest adventure.
How would you describe Outer Shores’ food philosophy?
We’re all about being local and reducing our carbon footprint. We’re not sourcing product from different countries. It’s almost all locally based and we try to keep things as light and pure as we can. Food is something we all need, but we also see it as an opportunity to tell stories of the places we visit.
When you say local, where are you talking about?
Most of the product is from the BC coast. At least 90% of the things on our current menu are sustainably fished, farmed, or produced off the coast of British Columbia or on Vancouver Island.
What are some of those local menu items you work with?
Well, you will always see salmon. Salmon, halibut, and sablefish. I have stuff in my own garden that I bring. This year there’s going to be some dandelion shoots, sheep sorrel, a bunch of herbs. Depending on where we are in each region, we sometimes have access to really amazing ingredients. Yesterday I went foraging and found spruce tips and elderflowers. We are also pretty focused on staying as seasonal as possible. Right now we’re excited for the berries to come out. Salal berries, blackberries, thimbleberries, and raspberries are all on their way.
Do you have a favourite coastal ingredient?
Our fish is amazing. We have some of the best fish in the world. I also get really excited about sea asparagus, also known as samphire. And on the menu right now we have a sea lettuce kombu dashi dish. We have some really amazing sea lettuce and we just dry it out in the oven and kind of turn it into a kombu and use it to make our version of dashi, a Japanese broth. We serve it with shrimp, ginger, and garlic.
What’s the best part of being a chef on Passing Cloud?
Well, I get to eat the food every day and we get really amazing guests. The crew works really hard to tailor each trip to the group we have. Because you’re on a boat with a small group of people, it can be really intimate and really special. So being able to bend to food preferences and sensitivities and likes and dislikes is really fun. The best part is watching people discover new parts of the world and then extending that to the plate in the evening, effectively carrying the conversation on through a three-course meal.