When Harris Sakalis––newly appointed executive chef at Richmond’s Fairmont Vancouver Airport Hotel––was growing up in Greece, fishing was a foundation of family life. “There was almost a ceremonial feel to a day on the water with cousins, uncles and friends,” he says, recalling pushing the boat out in the cool ocean, starting the engine and feeling the excitement of an adventure unfolding.
“After a few hours, we’d return home and I learned from a young age how to clean and scale the fresh catch,” he adds, noting that the day’s finale would often be a leisurely sit-down meal with multiple generations and everyone tucking into a delicious seafood feast.
Fast-forward to now and it’s that deep bond between family, fishing and top-quality seafood that comes to mind when Sakalis visits Fisherman’s Wharf in Steveston. “Ever since we arrived here, my family and I have enjoyed walking around the Wharf and connecting with local fishermen. Their extremely fresh seafood brings me right back to my childhood memories.”
Sakalis––who trained in Greece, worked at top Manhattan restaurants and was executive chef at Alberta’s iconic Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge––is participating in this year’s Steveston Spot Prawn & Seafood Celebration. The annual event spotlights B.C.’s historic fishing sector with fresh-catch sales at the Wharf, free alfresco cooking demonstrations and a Dine About component featuring creative seafood specials at restaurants across Richmond.
The 2023 Dine About runs from June 1 to June 18 and Sakalis has planned a special spot prawn dish for the Fairmont Vancouver Airport’s swish Globe@YVR restaurant. “It’s a Mediterranean-inspired appetizer of spot prawn and cherry gazpacho with dehydrated haloumi, fresh basil, avocado and extra virgin olive oil. The dish has a fair amount of acidity that nicely balances the sweetness of the prawns and the fattiness of the avocado.”
But spot prawns aren’t the only remarkable B.C. ocean ingredient Sakalis is keen to work with as his tenure unfolds in Richmond. “Both the variety and the freshness of the seafood here was something I often heard about from other chefs who had worked on the West Coast. I’m particularly looking forward to the summer salmon season and bringing this amazing offering to our guests.”
Spot Prawns Rule
Also excited to be participating in this year’s Dine About is Shane Dagan, owner of the beloved Steveston Seafood House restaurant. A restaurateur with a deeply anchored dedication to B.C.’s sustainable ocean larder, he’s spent years showcasing the West Coast’s sparkling seafood on his menus.
“There’s a rich and diverse bounty of natural seafood in this region––it’s simply some of the best in the world,” he says, adding that his kitchen team will be down at the Wharf every day during the 2023 season to purchase their just-off-the-boat spot prawns and more.
Under head chef Sushila Narain––who has been working with B.C. seafood for more than four decades––the restaurant is offering a series of ever-changing spot prawn appetizers and dinner dishes during Dine About. According to Dagan, diners will find lots of intriguing recipes and tempting approaches. “Some of our favourites will be garlic and white wine, Spanish-style gambas al ajillo and fresh prawns with house made angel hair pasta.”
Not that fancy techniques are essential when it comes to local spot prawns, he adds. “Out of my favourite ways to prepare them is also one of the easiest: simply steamed and dipped in hot drawn butter.
Last Updated on May 17, 2023 by Tourism Richmond