By Joyce Chua of Vancouver Foodie Tours
This Year’s BC Spot Prawn Festival is coming up on May 13th, and it’s your chance to try these little local sea creatures that are coveted around the world for their delicate flavour, plump nature, and eye-catching “spotted” markings.
2017 marks the 11th annual Spot Prawn Festival, which will include a spot prawn gala, spot prawn cooking classes and the famous spot prawn boil. Festival founder, seafood entrepreneur and Ocean Wise advocate, Chef Rob Clark, reflects on over a decade that’s gone by.
How it began: Starting the Spot Prawn Festival
When Chef Robert Clark started the Spot Prawn Festival, he was the chef at C Restaurant – a fine dining establishment that until it’s closure in 2014, was known for its impressive seafood menu. The search for sustainable seafood and spot prawns sprouted out of necessity, as Chef Robert wanted to serve the best and freshest seafood available. He began asking questions, visiting fishermen, building relationships and forging new ways to hold onto local seafood that was being shipped overseas.
The first Spot Prawn Festival was really for local chefs to draw their attention to the supply of BC spot prawns that were previously all being shipped overseas. It was a small effort to keep some of the product here for the locals to enjoy.
The evolution of the Spot Prawn Festival
In the last 11 years, the Spot Prawn Festival has been increasingly well received by Vancouver locals and visitors. Chef Robert calls Vancouver’s food scene “exciting and young,” and he’s honoured by the opportunity to help shape the city’s food culture.
Chef Robert’s efforts helped to spur the term “sustainable seafood” which became the platform for the Vancouver Aquarium’s Ocean Wise certification. These terms have helped raised awareness for BC seafood, and is now an emblem of pride on many menus. Last year, the celebrations and events were bigger than ever before, with restaurants creating seasonal menus and long-table feasts.
What’s next? The hope for BC Spot Prawn Festivals to come
Excited by the progression of “fluff to substance” in Vancouver’s food scene, Chef Robert noted, “the everyday person may not be able to eat certified Ocean Wise 100% of the time. But my hope is that people become more aware about what they are eating – where it comes from, how it was harvested, and what impact it has on the environment. Choices exist, and the more questions we ask, the more demand and awareness we bring to the issue.”
This year’s Spot Prawn festival is on Saturday May 13, 2017. Have a look at the website (spotprawnfestival.com) for more details.