It will be three busy days of cooking for hundreds of people, but David Vatcher is hoping to still find the time to thoroughly enjoy his upcoming experience at The Gathering.
The owner of Best Coast Café in Corner Brook has been appointed lead chef for this year’s festival based in the Burlington area of the Baie Verte Peninsula.
The Gathering, which takes place Aug. 23-25, has become one of Newfoundland and Labrador’s more popular festivals since its inception in 2012. Its hallmark has been showcasing true local hospitality and reviving the tourism industry in rural Newfoundland.
As lead chef, Vatcher will head up a team of nine or 10 other cooks who will be whipping up dishes from noon to 7 p.m. each day of the event for festival goers, organizers, volunteers and entertainers.
“I’ve looked at the lineup of chefs who have done this in the past and it’s quite an honour just to have been asked to do it, let alone the actual opportunity to do it,” Vatcher said. “It’s going to be fun and hopefully it all works out and we can keep doing it into the future.”
Vatcher and his team of chefs began a Facebook chat group to begin bouncing around ideas for the menu. Only one of the chefs has worked The Gathering before, but Vatcher is confident they have a menu that will keep everyone sated for the duration of the festival.
The menu will feature a variety of foods, but will be laden with a number of cod and mussel recipes as organizers try to keep elements of the event as local as possible. Vatcher said organizers have helped put him in contact with local farmers and fish harvesters to source local ingredients wherever they could.
With the theme of “Fire Food Music,” the visual and olfactory aspects of meal preparation will be a big part of the culinary experience.
“A lot of it will be open-flame cooking with barbecues and pots boiling over fire that you can see and smell,” said Vatcher.
The event also features chef hikes, during which a chef will take a smaller group on an excursion and cook more refined meals for them. Vatcher won’t be doing any of those, but would love to have an opportunity to lead a chef hike at a future festival.
“If I was going (as a festival patron), I would definitely be taking in some of those because those menus are going to be really nice,” he said.
While he won’t get to have that experience this year, Vatcher does hope to get time to enjoy some of the long list of musicians and comedians on the festival’s bill.