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Sonora Resort Canada Blog

Sonora Resort is an all-inclusive luxury wilderness resort located in the Discovery Islands, just off the coast of British Columbia. Follow our blog for highlights on BC fishing, wildlife adventures, and the decadent cuisine our all-inclusive, five star resort has to offer.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Congratulations, Chef Terry!



Congratulations, Chef Terry!

Just last week, Sonora’s Executive Chef Terry Pichor vied for a coveted spot on the kitchen podium as he competed in his second Gold Medal Plates in Victoria, British Columbia. The Gold Medal Plates is the ultimate celebration of Canadian Excellence in cuisine, wine, the arts, and athletic achievement. The night raised money for the nation’s Olympic athletes.

Sonora Resort Chef Terry Pichor
Chef Terry took home the bronze medal with his beautifully created Sonora “dashi”, which featured pine mushrooms, pickled kelp, ling cod, Dungeness crab, Humboldt squid, and sea urchin, paired with the Kanazawa Nomu white wine from the Okanagan. 
 
Here is a description of Terry’s Sonora “dashi” by Gold Medal Plates judge James Chatto:

At its heart was a ling cod cheek from local cod, lightly cured in ocean water and lemon balm from chef’s garden, then very briefly cooked sous vide, barely long enough to seize its juices. Rare and trembling, this naturally sweet piece of fish was sprinkled with a pinch offurukaki (powdered nori, sesame seed, dehydrated shiso leaf and puffed wild rice). Beside it were ribbons of exceptionally tender Humboldt squid, also cured and cooked sous vide but then bronzed for a moment on the plancha before being rolled and set onto the plate. There was a steamed Dungeness crab claw, snippets of pickled kelp and, lending their unique aroma to the dish, some perfect shavings of raw pine mushroom. Little pools of pale russet foam reminded me of a rock pool and turned out to be an espuma made from sea urchin purée. Chef finished the plate by pouring on a rich, heavy, almost viscous dashi broth flavoured with kelp, pine mushroom and bonito. It sounds like there was a lot going on but everything made perfect sense, flavours and distinct textures involved in an intricate dance that paid homage to the sea. 

Hawksworth Chef Kristian Eligh, Sonora Chef Terry Pichor and Wildebeest Chef Wesley Young
This is Chef Terry's second medal at the Gold Medal Plates. He won a bronze last year with a delicious dish composed of Thiessen Farms duck, foie gras, and butternut squash ravioli with pine mushrooms, black garlic granola, and natural jus and paired with Foxtrot Vineyard's 2010 Pinot Noir.

We are so proud!

The Sonora Resort culinary team at the Gold Medal Plates
Up next, you can find Chef Terry amid the hustle and bustle of Whistler’s annual Cornucopia festival this weekend. He will be treating attendees to a cooking demo on the Chef Culinary Stage Demonstration and preparing a Chef’s Luncheon for a lucky group of guests at a private home in Whistler.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Wildlife at Sonora has been Magnificent this Spring



The spring of 2014 here at Sonora has been characterized by unusually large flocks of bald eagles (80+ in the photo) feeding on fish churned up by the rapids. Everywhere I look there are countless schools of tiny baby salmon (smolts). The fishermen tell me that the salmon fishing has been the best in their recent memory.

A bald eagle banks for the trees with a Pacific hake in its talons

85 eagles by my count
Baby salmon leaping out of the path of a surfing dolphin
Granted, it is by no means uncommon to read claims about 'great fishing.' But when I say 'best ever' I mean that the number of Chinook salmon caught to this point in the season is dramatically higher than in any season in the last decade.  No question.

What this means for the wildlife population in general I don't know but I can tell you this – the emerald green ocean and forests here are absolutely teeming with life this spring! 
 
A mother Pacific whitesided dolphin and her calf surface in our wake. They are captured exhaling in the split second before they break the surface of the ocean and touch the atmosphere.

1/10th of a second later

This morning we had a lovely humpback whale feeding off our dock – it swam back and forth in the tide – and visits like this have become almost common place this spring.  In the first two months of the season the Yaculta rapids in front of Sonora have been traveled by nearly all local marine mammal species including transient (aka mammal eating) orca, pacific white sided dolphins, dall's and harbour porpoise, humpbacks, a gray whale, an elephant seal and many steller sea lions, not to mention the ever present harbour seals that haul out on the rocks in front of the resort. 

T100c is a young male transient orca (of the mammal eating eco-type in other words) identifiable by the distinctive notch in the trailing edge of his dorsal fin, among other features
On the shores and estuaries our neighbours, the black and grizzly bears, have been hard at work grazing on spring foods like lyngby's sedge, and luscious sea food like crunchy, salty mussels and barnacles.  I've also seen several mother bears with second year cubs.  Soon, I'm afraid, the bears may disappear into the forests to feed on the sweet, tangy, calorie rich berries they prefer. 
 


A mother black bear and her two second year cubs make a meal of salty, crunchy, mussels and barnacles
The berry crop (and this is just as important to your average bear as wine grapes are to a sommelier) looks abundant, and some of the salmon berries are ripening already, although the huckleberries and thimble berries look like they will take some time to ripen.  

Happily for the bears the hunting season is now over and it is safe for them to come out of hiding once again. I'm looking forward to catching a few more glimpses of their fuzzy magnificence before they leave for the mountain berry meadows.
 
Aaron Nagler, Wildlife Guide, Sonora Resort
 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Good luck, Lukas!



We are thrilled to announce that our Sous Chef, Lukas Gurtner, has been selected as a Western Canada finalist and will be competing in the 2014 Hawksworth Young Chef Scholarship Competition.

Lukas began working with the Sonora culinary team in 2011. After completing his first season at Sonora he went to Montreal, Quebec where he expanded his culinary repertoire while working at Laurie Raphaël. We are delighted to have him back for the 2014 season.

In the Hawksworth Young Chef Scholarship Competition, the national finalists will have two and a half hours to cook a main and dessert course using a surprise selection of ingredients. The ultimate prize is $10,000, provided by the Chefs’ Table Society of BC, and a stage at a leading international restaurant.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank Lukas for his hard work and dedication.

Congratulations and we wish you the best of luck!

The Western Canada competition will take place in Calgary on June 22nd. For more information about the Hawksworth Young Chef Scholarship competition, and to follow Lukas as he competes, visit www.hawksworthscholarship.com


Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Sonora Resort hosts the Relais & Châteaux North American Meeting to open its 12th season



Excitement grew as delegates from more than 40 Relais & Châteaux properties across North America departed by helicopter from the South Terminal of the YVR international Airport. The delegates were destined for Sonora Resort, a once small, rustic fishing lodge, now world class, luxury resort.

The flight took the guests over thick coniferous forests and deep, blue-green ocean whirlpools. Fifty minutes later as the helicopter approached Sonora Island, it swooped to the right in a wide turn, giving the guests an uninhibited view of the sparkling, expansive property which seemed to appear out of nowhere.

London Air Services Helicopter
Flying over kelp beds
Flying over whirl pools
Sonora Resort


The Relais & Châteaux guests’ adventure had begun.

Over the following three days property owners and hoteliers from across North America shared the art of how they create unique and unforgettable experiences for their guests. The theme of the discussion reflected the founding motto of the Relais & Châteaux brand, “All around the world, unique in the world.”


In between meetings delegates feasted on local cuisine crafted by Sonora’s team of talented chefs, led by Sonora's executive Chef, Terry Pichor. 

Sonora's Executive Chef Terry Pichor
Dining in the Tyee Dining Room



In the afternoon a picnic was served on a neighboring shoreline, reached by travelling a short distance across the ocean channel in a sleek, powerful Grady White. This picnic was no ordinary affair. The extensive feast, which was inspired by locally sourced ingredients, included spot prawns, oysters, dungeness crab and local berries over pavlova. 






On the final day of the event the delegates ventured out onto the ocean to experience the surrounding wilderness up close. The winding ocean channels that they had first viewed from the helicopter came to life. Bald Eagles swooped through the air, black bears meandered on the shoreline and steller sea lions swam in the 14 knot currents with mere flicks of their powerful fins. One sea lion even battled an octopus.

Sea Lion Battling an Octopus
Jonathan and Laura Esptein





View a video that Jonathan and Laura took on their eco-adventure tour
http://instagram.com/p/njnediHv2h/





That night some of the most talented chefs from across Western Canada pooled their skills in Sonora’s kitchens in an effort to thrill and delight the refined senses of the Relais & Châteaux guests. These chefs included Sonora’s Executive Chef Terry Pichor, Wickaninnish Inn’s Chef David Sider, Hasting House’s Marcel Kauer, and Chef Duncan Ly of Kensington Riverside Inn.





From left to right: Dominic Fortin, Lukas Gurtner, Carmen Ingham, Duncan Ly, Terry Pichor, David Sider, Marcel Kauer
To all who attended the event, we thank you for giving us the opportunity to showcase our treasured property. To those who have not yet experienced Sonora Resort we invite you to explore the possibility.


Our President and CEO, Wynne Powell and General Manager, Sean Ross thank Relais & Châteaux for the opportunity to host the conference this year and look forward to attending the 2015 North American meeting.