Gav Martell: He’s in the Kitchen


Visit Kelowna For Its Culinary Excellence

It's not just for skiing anymore

With its natural setting bordered by Lake Okanagan and a majestic mountain backdrop, there are few places in Canada that can compete with the sheer beauty of Kelowna, British Columbia. It does not take visitors long to realize why so many NHL players call this oasis home during the off-season. With a multitude of activities Kelowna has always been a hotspot for the outdoor tourist: cycling, golfing, skiing, hiking, fishing abound. However, it is the burgeoning culinary tourism movement that really makes Kelowna a must-visit on your travel list.

With picturesque settings aplenty there are so many great accommodations on Lake Okanagan from which to base yourself for a trip exploring Kelowna. Of note is the historic Hotel Eldorado, a boutique-style hotel with its own private boardwalk and marina. With fashionably decorated rooms, the hotel prides itself on top notch service and its fairytale origins. Despite its modest size the Eldorado does not miss a beat and their friendly staff seem to make every visitor feel welcome and at home. They do not disappoint from a culinary perspective either. Their wine lineup and food offerings excel in highlighting local suppliers and growers, at any of their lakeside bar, patio or restaurant.

From there, the opportunities are ample when venturing out to discover Kelowna’s culinary treasures. A city whose origins are in orchards and agriculture, she is slowly showing off her roots to visitors. Boasting interior British Columbia’s largest farmer’s market and a litany of local producers, Kelowna chefs are constantly exploring ways to relate the food and drink they present to their diners to the bounty which surrounds them.

While wine production is still a great draw to Kelowna, with nearly 50 different culinary highlights to explore the city is certainly abundant in places with which to fill your agenda. One such stop, Urban Distilleries is a perfect example of the passion Kelowna has for its own. Local owner Mike Urban will be happy to take you through a tasting at his micro-distillery where he produces a line of artisan spirits including the “Spirit Bear” line of gin, vodkas and rum. You’ll find many of the Urban Distillery spirits anchoring the drink menu at Kelowna’s top restaurants.

Highlights also include the Old Train Station Public House where CN trains used to pull in to Kelowna to load up with fruits destined across Canada and the world. Today the refurbished building serves as a cozy pub featuring local spirits and an impressive menu. Monthly they showcase three local chefs competing against one another to create a unique cocktail using a feature ingredient.

Perhaps the gem of Kelowna’s local food movement, RauDZ Regional Table is a restaurant owned by the award winning team of Chef Rod Butters and Audrey Surrao. With a menu constantly adapting to the freshest local ingredients, the food is superbly complimented by bartending mixologists also eager to show off Kelowna’s ingredients with their muddled masterpieces. Try the delicious Meet The Press cocktail (Urban Amber Rum, vanilla black bean reduction, pressed apple juice, lime, and artisan ginger beer) served in an old-fashioned mason jar with a maple swizzle stick.

With so many options for the traveling "foodie," you can really custom build a culinary trip to Kelowna based on your own tastes and interests. With direct flights into Kelowna International Airports from many of North America’s cities including Vancouver, Victoria, Calgary, Edmonton and Toronto, this vacation hotspot has never been more accessible to visitors year round. Just remember to go with a large appetite and a thirst for exploring what Kelowna has to offer your palate.

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Photo Credits: Kelowna Dock & Blossoms - Tourism Kelowna - Brian Sprout; All Others - Gav Martell