You know a chef is serious about his food when he remodels an entire kitchen to accommodate a new cooking implement.
Cedars Restaurant at Tigh-Na-Mara Seaside Spa Resort is now home to a 6,000-pound Wood Stone oven, a beautiful natural gas appliance that’s on display to diners in the open kitchen. Chef Eric Edwards is baking gourmet pizzas like his “forager” with caramelized onions and goat cheese topping wild mushrooms, as well as skillet breads, flatbreads, rack of lamb and cod in the oven.
“We were looking for another cooking surface, something modern and rustic Canadian, and we knew this was a great fit,” he said.
He and his team were so convinced that they gutted Cedars right down to the floorboards in a $1.5-million renovation to make space for this top-of-the-line appliance. Manufactured in Bellingham, Washington, it is used by top chefs throughout the world and Edwards was determined to make his both a decorative and a practical feature of the restaurant.
“Our kitchen is now semi-open and the Wood Stone oven is the main focus,” he explained. “As soon as you open the door to the restaurant, you see it. Guests can now see chefs cooking, kneading and tossing the dough as they craft the pizzas.”
Bryan Stokes, food and beverage director at Tigh-Na-Mara, was fully supportive of the initiative to add this new appliance, saying it offers a whole new dining experience.
“Designing our new layout with the huge stone oven up front allows our guests to watch chefs create culinary magic right in front of them,” he said. “Our new stone oven adds one more fun, flavourful way to enhance our contemporary rustic offerings and our guests are loving it.”
Edwards and his team spent time at Wood Stone Corporation’s pizza school in Bellingham and came back inspired to add new dishes and flavours to the menu. Edwards, who has been at Cedars for more than 25 years, said he is still exploring all the possible cooking opportunities it presents.
“It’s a beautiful thing to cook with because you can cook very quickly and the oven delivers some really nice flavours,” he reflected.
This summer the Wood Stone will be cooking succulent seafood skillets like roasted mussels, clams and rock fish, rustic artisan pizzas and lamb. It’s designed for high-volume pizzas, which Edwards suspects will be a popular offering at the 300-seat restaurant.
Cedars is now offering a take-out menu so guests can view the menu online, order and take it to-go for picnics on the beach, at their homes or in their guest rooms. The pizza selection includes a “cedar club” with pulled rotisserie chicken and prosciutto, the Mediterranean with roasted artichoke hearts, feta and olives, and the “meatatarian,” with ground bison, pork, beef and lamb.
|Dishes prepared by Chef Eric Edwards and Sous Chef Everett Askeland at Tigh-Na-Mara Seaside Spa Resort's Cedar's Restauarant & Lounge include (foreground) a Red Snapper and strawberry salsa and avocado and watermelon relish with mixed vegetables. (Don Denton photography)
Crispy Skin Rock Fish & Strawberry Avocado Salsa
(Cooked at Tigh-Na-Mara’s Cedars Restaurant on a cast iron skillet in the new Wood Stone oven.)
4 to 6 ozs rock fish fillet with skin on
1½ pounds fresh strawberries, diced
2 avocados, sliced
¼ cup sweet red onion
¼ cup cilantro chopped
3 ozs basil, chopped
2 oz mint, chopped
2 lime, zest and juiced
1 oz sriracha sauce
2 oz olive oil
Sea salt and pepper
For rockfish: Heat 2 oz of olive oil in a warm cast iron skillet, season fish and place it in the skillet. Cook until temperature reaches 145° F.
For salsa: Combine strawberry, onion, cilantro, basil, mint, sauce and lime.
Add salt and pepper just before plating. Place rock fish on plate and add about 2 oz of salsa on top.
- Story by Lauren Kramer