Creating Canadian Cuisine

The Butternut Tree, at 110 Street and 97 Avenue, at the edge of Oliver, is chef Scott Downey’s attempt to answer that most difficult question in Canada: what’s ours cuisine. We caught up with Downey and, in his own words, he told us about his restaurant.

I just want to provoke the question of ‘What’s Canadian food?’ What’s the flavour of Canada and how are we as a country, as a group of people, going to give an identity to that? The whole goal is just being able to share everything that we learn all the way along and tell people exactly where to get it.

photo: William Frost

It’s not like I got this special ingredient and I want to hide it and nobody else is going to be able to have it anymore. That’s the complete opposite of what we want to do. Once we have that, we say exactly who we got it from, where we got it from, when you can get it, and I think that’s just the big thing – the sharing of knowledge.

I ended up looking at about 130 spots through all of downtown … and finally, when I came to this spot, I knew immediately. The big part was the location and the view. When I walked in here and just saw this giant park, the river valley, we have the streetcar that goes across and then also being Canadian, we have the legislature, it was just this perfect fit.

This type of mentality that you can have a dinner as your night … I want to build a restaurant that was around that philosophy. I want you to come in, spend the night with us, let us take care of you. Drink some wine, eat some food and relax and actually enjoy your whole night here.

We want to be fine dining in our quality of service. We want to be fine dining in the quality of our food, but I want it to be like you’re coming and having dinner at my house. If you come in, I just want to welcome you, take care of you and make sure that you’re having a good time and that you’re comfortable.

– Interview by Miranda Herchen