Nature’s Chef Tipi is hosted by Nature’s Chef Tom Kral. Tom is a private chef who forages from the land and sea just outside of Sooke B.C.
Upon arrival we were greeted with a wild, foraged charcuterie board and tepid tea infusion. This appetizer to hold us over until dinner was foraged from the land and the sea. It featured smoked bison jerky, fresh snap peas, young radishes and mustard flowers from the garden, smoked trout from the lake, pickled bull kelp from the ocean, lentil flatbread that was made specially for our gluten free dietary request and his own fermented mustard that was out of this world! Our tea was a blend of lemon balm, mint and some kind of spruce or evergreen tree that I can’t quite remember right now! It was incredibly refreshing and also began the process of supporting and preparing our digestive system for the wonderful foods that were to come.
Part of what was so wonderful about the entire visit was the way that our hosts Tom and his two workaway helpers Lance and Jupiter hosted us through the entire stay. When we arrived, they greeted us at the outdoor lounge space. The space was shaded with an overhead cover. It was a lovely space to sit and enjoy the charcuterie board and share in great conversation.
From there, Tom gave us a tour of the 8 acres of land, just a 10 minute walk from the beach and ocean. It was an adventure to travel the same paths as the deer and animals to our tent (when we stayed the tipi was being repaired). These tunnels inside blackberry, salal berry and salmonberry bushes are quite an experience and added to the overall experience of staying in this special place. When we stayed, the salmon berries were in season. As we entered into the covered pathways, the salmon berries lit up the tunnels like twinkle lights. The nukta flowers or wild roses were also in full bloom and during the daylight sunlight hours you were treated with the aromatherapy of wild roses. There is a composting toilet by the tipi. This was our first experience with a composting outhouse. I’ve seen a lot of them in tiny house shows and the rave reviews were spot on.
Attention to detail extended to the indoor spaces as well. Inside our tent was a double bed with comfortable bedding. Wildflowers were collected and arranged in a bouquet in the tent for our enjoyment. There was also a selection of reading for us to delve into that added to the feeling of the trip with themes from mindfulness, fishing, cooking, and foraging. Inside our spacious tent was a jug of fresh water, candles and incense to support our stay as well.
Before dinner we took a 10 minute walk down to the ocean and sat on the driftwood watching the waves roll in.
For dinner, Tom and his crew created a beautiful table setting on the picnic tables in the outdoor dining area. The fire was burning and Tom prepared most of our dinner over the hot coals of an open fire. For our main course we had wild pacific salmon sourced from Finest At Sea https://www.finestatsea.com/ which provides wild, locally sourced, sustainable fish in Victoria BC.
The first course was a wild seaweed soba bowl. The biggest surprise of this bowl were the wild spruce tips which Tom preserved in apple cider vinegar. Their citrusy flavour was a delight to the tastebuds. The soba bowls included a variety of different foraged seaweeds from the sea, soba noodles and cucumber, radishes and green onion from the garden.
The main course features wild pacific salmon from Finest At Sea over a thick and crispy pattie of brown and black rice with seaweed and salmon berries on the side as well as a blackberry reduction.
The meal was paired with a rhubarb, ginger and wild rose ferment which was incredible.
For dessert there was a blackberry brownie that was so rich and chewy, OMG! Paired with a nukta rose vanilla ice cream and salmon berry compote flamed over the fire, topped with toasted hazelnuts. The dessert was paired with a wild mushroom and chai blend which included reishi, chaga, and turkey tail.
We enjoyed this incredible meal in community, eating, talking and sipping from 7 pm until 10 pm. We sat around the fire and enjoyed conversation, company and good food. Then we made our way through the maze of paths and slept deeply after all that fresh air and good food.
Breakfast was at 9 am (as per our request). For breakfast Tom served buckwheat waffles, another kind accommodation for our dietary considerations. I know Tom does wonderful ferments and works extensively with sourdough and so I hope that those of you who eat wheat will definitely get to experience his bread baking and sourdough. Our waffles were topped with salmon berries, chopped apple, toasted hazelnuts, blackberry compote, maple syrup and coconut whip cream. We ate the meal at another picnic table in the sun to start the day community style again. They were so delicious we all went back for seconds. Many of us mentioned that although we usually start our day with savory and protein rich breakfasts that these buckwheat waffles are really satisfying.
I highly recommend booking an overnight trip to the tipi for delicious, wild, foraged food, personally cooked for you by nature’s chef, Tom Kral. We will be back when the season shifts ever so slightly to see what the garden has to offer a little later in the season. We will also be recommending this to all our friends and family in Victoria as well as any friends and family who come to visit Vancouver Island as a once in a lifetime memorable and not to be missed experience.
Tom has been featured in Eat Magazine http://eatmagazine.ca/natures-chef/
Book with Tom https://natureschef.ca/