The stunning backdrop of the Broughton Archipelago in British Columbia sets the stage for remarkably unique and intimate wild dining experiences. Foraging and preparing feasts under the open sky is a fact of life at Nimmo Bay Wilderness Resort.
Their philosophy is that food is intimately rooted in sense of place—in this case, one of the largest intact temperate rainforests in the world. Their intentionally sustainable approach means guests feast on local fare like wild vegetation, spot prawns, fresh halibut, uni and Dungeness crab when they are in season, consciously sourced and readily available.
Accessible by air and sea only, the resort is truly remote. Headed up by chef Linnéa LeTourneau, the Great Bear Rainforest becomes a luxury culinary destination, where guests dine outdoors or in the floating restaurant Little River.
Inspired by the natural bounty, the culinary team serves up distinctly West Coast cuisine that tells the story of the land and sea through the senses.
Dishes emphasize clean, fresh flavours based on locally-caught seafood, foraged plants, pasture-raised meats, and produce carefully sourced from sustainable farms, most of which are located on nearby Vancouver Island.
Dining in the wild, under an open sky, is nothing short of extraordinary. This past Summer, guests enjoyed remote cookouts on a private island and nestled amongst the rainforest. At Nimmo Bay, it’s all a part of the adventure.
Executive Chef Linnéa LeTourneau brings a wide breadth of experience and a deep passion for exceptional culinary experiences to Nimmo Bay. Linnéa’s professional culinary journey began in Vancouver, where, upon finishing culinary school she landed a job at Hawksworth Restaurant in its early days.
At 22, motivated by the desire to expand her horizons both personally and professionally, Linnéa moved to Paris. After two years, she was inspired to adopt a more farm-to-table lifestyle and moved to Australia to work at the world-renowned farm restaurant Brae and later at a molecular gastronomy-focused restaurant, after which she ventured abroad again, this time to Tokyo where she helped open Restaurant Inua with chef Thomas Frebel.
Since returning home to the West Coast, Linnéa has spent the past three summers at Nimmo Bay. Her food is inspired by a “less is more” ethos in processing methods to celebrate and showcase the beauty of starting with good ingredients, a nod to her interest in sustainable, seasonal ingredients, agriculture and small-scale farming, as well as foraging and harvesting from the surrounding ocean and forest.
Wander: Where did you learn about foraging and harvesting?
Linnéa: I honestly started foraging a lot later in my career and it was in the countryside and seaside of Australia during my time living and working there (near Melbourne) and it was for products that we don’t have here on the west coast.
Upon my return to Canada, I started working at Nimmo Bay and was immersed in the nature of the place, so I got very interested in learning how and what to forage from the surrounding forest and ocean.
I’ve learned tidbits here and there from books and co-workers and in order to educate myself further, I’ve spent time with a couple of professional foragers, a professional seaweed harvester, and a naturalist. I certainly am no foraging expert, and am still learning.
How do foraging and harvesting change over the Winter/cooler months?
Foresting and harvesting are ever-changing! Every calendar season, every month and every week there is change.
As we transition from Summer to Autumn a handful of different varieties of mushrooms start popping up in the forest of the area surrounding Nimmo Bay; Bog cranberries can be found on the ground of the flatter lands where rivers and creeks meet the bays nearby; harvesting seafood like Urchin is better in cold winter months as well (although a hell of a lot more physically challenging!).
Do you recall the first dish you ever cooked?
The first thing I ever cooked was scrambled eggs when I was probably about 4 years old with the instruction and guidance of my Dad. First “professional, composed” dish I ever cooked I cannot recall but was probably something tacky and outdated that they taught us during culinary school.
How would you describe your style of cooking?
Minimal manipulation, allowing good quality ingredients and products to speak for themselves. I think the cooking techniques and flavours I use time and time again have mostly been influenced by my time living and cooking in both France and Japan.
I like to showcase seasonal, local ingredients for the most part but am not rigid about using hyper-local (I still use lemons from Florida, cheese from France, specialty oils and vinegar from Italy, and shoyu from Japan for example). I tend to use more vegetables and fish than meat.
What is your favourite weekday meal to put together?
This is going to be a very disappointing answer but I put very minimal effort into cooking for myself and when at home alone I generally eat for nutritional value versus gourmand pleasure but probably once a week I will make some sort of simple Pasta dish for myself – I really love eating pasta.
What is the one thing you always keep in your refrigerator or pantry at home?
From the fridge, the most consumed item by me would have to be Hummus out of convenience. Yes, the premade, store-bought stuff! I always have plain Hummus in the fridge and then zhuzh it up with some sort of spice, herb or seasoning like fresh dill, zaatar, or hot sauce.
From the pantry, some things I always have on hand and can’t live without would be Kombu (seaweed for stocks and broths – super nutritional), Vegemite (I’m obsessed), and dried pasta.
What would you say is your favourite dish you have developed for Nimmo Bay?
That is such a hard question to answer! Definitely something with local seafood (I love for guests to experience food from the surrounding area, especially our west coast waters) but I couldn’t choose one favourite.
There have been many dishes that I am super proud of but honestly with many of the dishes I have created, If they are really popular with the guests, I will repeat them a few times (for different guests) and after maybe 5 or 6 times I will get bored of the dish and never want to see it again (no matter how good it is). It’s a bit of a double-edged sword!
Sommelier and Head of Service, Kyle Gartlan-Close, takes Nimmo’s Bay wild dining experience up an even further notch with remote tastings, driftwood bars, and mountaintop cocktails.
Wander: How would you describe your style of or approach to service?
Kyle: We attempt to offer relaxed, refined and preemptive wilderness elegance. Our desire isn’t for the service to be stuffy, but rather to match the place and wildness of where we are.
I also love the juxtaposition of blowing people’s minds with super tailored and beautiful service in off-the-beaten places. A blazer and bare feet with a burger bar at a beach, that’s the Nimmo magic.
How do pairing and the approach to service change over cooler months?
We aren’t open for the winter, but even in fall at the end of the season, we move into deeper, warming flavours on our cocktail menus. As guests begin to want to dine earlier, I find myself pulling the cork on some more robust Rhone and Meritage blend wines.
Any wines you are excited about this coming season that we should check out?
First and most importantly, I’m excited for a giant exhale and pause just to reflect on the 2021 season. Once that is finished, I love winters to begin looking forward to the wines for the 2022 season.
With the cuisine focused around plants and seafood, I’m always growing the reserves with Grower Champagnes, and high-altitude whites. Plus Pinot Noir is so well suited to our menus, I can’t wait to go out and discover new beauties for next year.
This past season, I had a lot of fun pouring the 2013 De La Terre Pinot Noir from Bannockburn in Geelong, Australia, always a revelation for guests and a dead ringer for Burg. In our house wines, the bubbles from Bella Wines in Naramata, a boutique sparkling house run by dynamic duo Jay and Wendy Drysdale, and anything Costa Gavaris is doing with his winery Rigour and Whimsy in Okanagan Falls. I poured his Orienteering in the Underworld 2019 Syrah, blew my mind!
Do you cook? What is your favourite weekday meal to put together?
I do love to cook, mostly when I’m entertaining. I eat predominantly plant-based; my favourite way to eat is French-country dining, pickles, cheese, good bread, and good company.
What would you say is one of your favourite Nimmo Bay memories so far?
This question is impossible to answer as the place just creates one fantastic moment after another. To wrap our 2021 season our talented team put together a year-end art crawl, working with so many beautiful talented humans. Food-wise, taking guests out for a simple experience of diving for urchins, catching fish, then cooking a simple lunch over a fire paired with a 1996 Summerhill Cipes Brut.