Sometimes you just need to get back to the basics – honest food, local ingredients, and a community of good friends. One of the restaurants we visited on Vancouver Island that illustrates this was RedCan Gourmet, a small eatery housed in a no-nonsense industrial building just outside the tiny town of Tofino on Vancouver Island. It’s here that Chef Tim May, a culinary veteran who spent 30 years honing his cooking skills at places like Pan Pacific Hotel in Whistler and upscale Clayoquot Wilderness Resort, strips cooking down to its delicious essentials.
In this tiny, no-frills space, Tim and his young wife, Sarah, churn out artisan pizzas made with the best Italian flour, milled Roma tomatoes, and the freshest local ingredients like chanterelles from nearby forests. He also makes gourmet sandwiches and dishes like handmade lasagna. And savvy, in-the-know locals line up.
But it wasn’t until the lights went out and the kitchen was plunged into darkness that we really learned what RedCan Gourmet is all about. As Tim, Sarah, and his assistant chefs toiled in the dimness, unwilling to close the place despite the power failure, his gaggle of hungry customers swung into action. Without being asked, several of them hustled up flashlights. One man went to a nearby store and bought a battery-operated light. Others carefully lit candles to chase away the gloom. All the while, Chef Tim and his staff stayed the course, spinning pizzas, ladling out hot food, bantering with those who waited, and feeding more than just customers’ stomachs, but also tending to this tight-knit community’s soul.
by Anne Weaver, RFT Editor