Jennifer Miller May 6, 2009 link to article
Whistler – The entrepreneurial spirit has been a strong force in Whistler over the years, with many stories of ski bums starting successful businesses — seeing a need or an opportunity in a growing resort and stepping in to give it a shot.
At the museum’s recent Icon Gone event during the Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival I learned of one such story. Nigel Protter’s Espresso Express was an old bus converted into a coffee shop that was often stationed at the base of Whistler Mountain in the wilderness that is now the Village.
It served as a hangout for skiers in the late 1970s as they waited for the shuttle bus that would take them back to Creekside and the old gondola. (There was no lift service in the now-Village area.)
Last week, I had the chance to literally taste the dream of two young entrepreneurs — and it was delicious. It was one of those moments when I thought, “Why didn’t I think of this?”
Skai Dalziel and Joe Facciolo started Whistler Tasting Tours in December, and my significant other treated me to their “Après-disiac” tour last week. It was one of the best evenings I’ve had in a while — full of laughter, amazing food and drink, fun and conversation.
We started out at the Mallard Lounge in the Fairmont for a martini and dim sum, got to know our host, Skai, and one fellow diner who was visiting from Toronto, and listened to the live music of Colin Bullock.
A pretty great start. The whole evening being a surprise to me, I then found out we still had four restaurants to discover.
Skai took care of every detail — all you have to do on this tour is sit back and enjoy. Well, and do a little walking from one location to the next, which is actually a good chance to stretch your legs, get some fresh air and make some tummy space for the next course.
Our next stop was the famous wine cellar at the Bearfoot Bistro, where our Toronto visitor got to sabre a bottle of bubbles while we all explored the cellar and tasted a few delicious bites of foie gras and salmon. Then it was on to Hy’s Steakhouse, a new experience for me, where we sampled the teriyaki beef tenderloin paired with a Shiraz.
To help keep things fun and interesting, the guys behind Whistler Tasting Tours have come up with some friendly competition to keep the evening moving. They’ve even got a few surprises, and prizes, up their sleeves.
Our main-course stop was Kypriaki Norte, where I experienced the famous slow-roasted lamb for the first time. Then it was over to the Firerock Lounge at the Westin for decadent ice wine, cheese and chocolate strawberries.
The evening was a fine dining feast complemented by good company and the chance to meet new people. As a Whistler resident, it gave me the chance to discover some of the restaurants and dishes I had yet to sample.
I can see the tour being a highlight for any visitor — the chance to experience fantastic Whistler hospitality from Skai, Joe and the various restaurant staff, an opportunity to try several eateries in one go, and the chance to meet other travellers from around the world.
It was a challenging winter for anyone to start a new concept in Whistler, or anywhere for that matter, but hopefully Whistler Tasting Tours will become one of the many local entrepreneurial success stories.
The tasting tours are continuing through the summer, and through May Skai and Joe are offering a “pay what you want” promotion for groups of seven or fewer. Wine pairings must be purchased in advance. Call (604) 902-8687 for details.