Spot Prawn Festival returns to Vancouver for 9th year

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Spot Prawn season is short and sweet, and to kick things off right, the 9th annual Spot Prawn Festival is taking place on Sunday, May 17, 2015.

Bringing together some of Vancouver’s top chefs for a fun day of eating, learning, celebrating, and interacting, the popular festival at False Creek Fishermen’s Wharf is a fun event for the whole family.

Chef Ryan Bissell is the chair of the Spot Prawn Festival committee, and has been working to bring together all the components that make the event so dynamic, including live music, on-stage culinary demos, vendors, kids’ activities, and the glorious fresh, local spot prawns themselves.

With just a five week fishing season, Bissell says there will be 450 pounds of the crustacean culled from waters as local as just outside the Burrard Inlet up to the Sunshine Coast, used for the boil, which is the ticketed tasting event. There will also be fresh, live spot prawns available for purchase right from the boats for enthusiasts who want to cook and eat the local delicacy at home.

This is Bissell’s third year participating in the organization of the Festival, which is put on as a fundraiser for the Chefs’ Table Society of British Columbia, a group that provides financial support to the local culinary industry.

The CTS is able to help chefs out financially in order to support their careers in the local industry and further their education, by helping them get anything from knives to cookbooks to travel opportunities. Building and maintaining the culinary community is key to the CTS, and community is at the core of an event like the Spot Prawn Festival, which gives attendees the chance to interact with local chefs.

Chefs who will be at this year’s Spot Prawn Festival include luminaries like Vikram Vij (Vij’s), Robert Belcham (Campagnolo), and Scott Jaeger (Pear Tree), and many more.

Bissell hails the BC spot prawn as “west coast lobster” and the Spot Prawn Festival as a gateway to both summer and the spot prawn season.

“It’s such an amazing prawn, so good raw, so good cooked,” says Bissell, who is also busy in his role as the Executive Chef for UBC’s exciting new student union building. For Bissell, the spot prawn tastes best when it’s done simply, describing his favourite mode of prep as scampi-style, with lemon, garlic, butter, and white wine done quickly in the pan then peel and eat.

“It’s so simple,” notes Bissell. “You don’t really do much. Even just the raw tail dipped in a bit of soy sauce is so delicious.”

Get to know more about sustainable BC spot prawns at the Festival, and grab tickets to the boil to taste them in all their glory.

BC Spot Prawn Festival

When: Sunday May 17, 2015 (11 a.m. to 3 p.m.)
Where: False Creek Fisherman’s Wharf, 1505 West 1st Avenue, Vancouver
Tickets: Spot Prawn Boil Single Admission: $17.50 (plus tax and service fee); available online

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Lindsay William-Ross Lindsay is a Senior Editor at Vancity Buzz, and currently runs the site's Food section. A fourth generation Vancouverite, she spent the last two decades in Los Angeles, where she was EIC of the city's top blog, earned her MA, attended culinary school, and was an English professor (among other things). Lindsay's first published piece was December 1980 in The Province; it was her letter to Santa. E-mail: lindsay@vancitybuzz.com
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