This article is a guest post written by local artist and writer Marcus Jackson of Luckyjack Press. Marcus is an avid fisherman and participated in many of the events at the World Shore Lunch Championships. This is his recount of it. If you are interested in writing a guest post, contact us here.
There are so many events in Yellowknife on any given weekend, a person can feel overwhelmed trying to decide which ones to attend. The Northern Frontier Visitor’s Centre hosts one of those events you just don’t want to miss: The World Shore Lunch Championships. It brings together two things that Yellowknifers love: good food and stiff competition.
This year, eight teams competed for the title of “World Champion” and the chefs didn’t disappoint. Despite their differences in technical culinary skills, outfitters, tour operators, business owners, and pro chefs entered their best fish recipe hoping to land the coveted title and bragging rights of “Best Shore Lunch”.
A shore lunch is exactly what it sounds like: a lunch made of freshly caught fish made right on shore. If you are not familiar with a shore lunch, the best way to experience one is to come to Yellowknife! Depending on where you are fishing, a shore lunch can include a number of types of fish: Northern Pike, Pickerel (Walleye), Lake Trout, Grayling, Whitefish, Burbot, or Inconnu could all potentially end up on your plate. If your guide really likes you, they might bring along some fresh greens, homemade salad dressing, freshly baked bread, and a couple bottles of nearly-impossible-to-get locally-brewed birch beer.
While the Shore Lunch Championships weren’t technically held on shore, the fish was as fresh as you can get it, there was a beer garden where you could relax with a beverage, and there was even a hot dog stand for the folks who are a little less fickle about their food fare.
Besides all the great food, there were also other folks in attendance that made this a truly family-friendly event. Artists were set up selling soap, sculptures, and other handmade goodies. The Department of Fish and Oceans was also in attendance giving out information and answering questions about fishing. But my two favourite experiences were the fish printing booth and the traditional fish-drying demonstration.
The fish printing booth was filled with kids excited to try their hand at Gyotaku the traditional Japanese process of printing fish. Kids were able to print their own whitefish using acrylic paint and newsprint. The process originated in Japan as a way for fishermen to record their prize-winning catches in a time before photography. To create a Gyotaku print, ink (or paint in this case), is applied to the body of a fresh fish. Then a piece of paper is laid over the fish and rubbed with the hand. This transfers the ink to the paper leaving behind a fairly realistic impression. Strong Interpretation had three stations where kids could paint and print fresh whitefish and have an artful souvenir to take home with them.
Visitors were offered a uniquely northern experience this weekend was thanks to BDene Adventures who were demonstrating traditional Dene methods of fish drying. I’ve never had the opportunity to see this technique up close and I was excited to watch an Elder demonstrate her fast and flawless filleting skills. Dene people have been drying fish for generations. Their method of preserving it makes fish lightweight and easy to transport yet it still maintains its nutritional value. BDene’s owner, Bobby Drygeese, was very generous, and brought a whole bucketful of dry fish for people to try. And the fish is exactly as described – dry, similar to jerky but is less salty.
If you missed the competition this year don’t worry, there will be another one in 2016. You can bet the competition will ramp up next year and the crowds will only get larger as people hear more and more about what a delicious event takes place on the shores of Great Slave Lake in early June.
View all the competing dishes:
Which was your favourite?