As written by Jennifer Schell for iNwine Spotlight, November 16, 2020
The Bear, The Fish, The Root & The Berry restaurant at Spirit Ridge, part of the Unbound Collection by Hyatt, is an extraordinary culinary adventure. Coined as “modern vineyard cuisine inspired by our Indigenous roots”, the unique name has a wonderful legend attached. There is a chaptik story passed down through the generations of the First Nations people of the Okanagan and the name is based on their story of the Four Food Chiefs that represent the key elements of Indigenous cuisine.
“The Four Food Chiefs are central: Skimxist Black Bear (chief of animals, representing self-sacrifice, leadership, giving), Ntytikxw Chinook Salmon (water creatures, perseverance, hard work), Speetlum Bitterroot (plants below the ground, relationships to the land) and Seeya Saskatoon Berry (plants above the ground, growth, strength, community) are legendary.”
Chef Murray McDonald epitomizes the deep cultural connection of this restaurant, as his own Indigenous roots have been personally inspired here.
“Chef McDonald is extremely talented, and his style is a perfect fit with our resort and the Unbound Collection by Hyatt brand,” Executive Director and General Manager Daniel Bibby says.
Chef McDonald has an epic background in the culinary world. Prior to moving to Osoyoos, he was executive chef at the Ritz-Carlton in Toronto and before that, he was the founding executive chef of the celebrated Fogo Island Inn, Newfoundland, ranked in the Top 100 Restaurants in Canada.
Chef McDonald’s personal culinary journey plays a serendipitous role in his relocation to the desert. Murray grew up in Newfoundland and his mother’s family is part Montagnais Innu from Labrador. Growing up, he never had the opportunity to learn about his Innu culture because this was not widely documented and shared at the time.
“When the opportunity came to move here and to actually be on the sacred land of the Osoyoos Indian Band and cooking Indigenous food I said let’s go and do it,” Murray explains. “For me, the best way to learn any culture is through the people and discover it through the culinary aspects.”
The menu is divided into categories: The Root, The Bear, The Fish & The Berry. The Root includes wonderful vegetable dishes like Hasselback Butternut Squash with salsa verde and deep-fried sage or hay roasted carrots with spiced nuts, cattail pollen and vegetable ash. The Bear includes indigenous classics like bison, venison or rabbit. The delicious bison tenderloin comes with delicious duck fat potato tostones, WTF mushrooms, hay roasted carrots, kale and spruce demi-glace.
The Fish section features another one of the favourite menu items: Pacific pan seared halibut, chestnut pappardelle pasta, peas, chorizo, spinach with white onion velouté.
Desserts are also inspired – love the name Campfire Songs with a spin on smores: graham ice cream, fluff, devil’s food cake, berry wojape and sumac sticks.
Everything is a celebration of the spirit of our good earth and the stunning little desert corner of the world called Osoyoos. Book a room at Spirit Ridge and escape into the magic.