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New chef creating ‘plant forward’ dishes at Okanagan Falls winery

The 2020 riesling paired with the summer squash.
The 2020 riesling paired with the summer squash.

In pursuit of fresh, seasonal ingredients, the new chef at Liquidity Wines is bringing vegetables to the spotlight with a menu created to complement the array of wines available.

Phil Tees, executive chef at Liquidity winery, has spent the last 15 years honing his skills in kitchens across Canada, including 1888 Chop House and The Fairmont Banff Springs. He was born and raised in Montreal, Quebec and joined the Okanagan Falls winery team in May.

“Every dish, every wine, every season is different but this is the culmination of over 15 years of trying to work on pairings and it led to here,” he said. Prior to his job at Liquidity, the role of pairing was given to service professionals after he created the dishes but at the winery, dish creation begins with the wine, he said.

His favourite pairing is with the winery’s new vintage 2020 Riesling which has good acidity to it, he said. The acid can bring a challenge to food pairings but for Tees, it’s all about bringing it back to the basics, balancing the wine’s flavour with texture, spice and fat.

The Riesling pairs well with the bistro’s summer squash dish, where Tees combines the squash with sunflower tahini, puffed quinoa and shallots.

“The wine is the main ingredient in the dish and everything else gravitates around it,” Tees said. “It’s one of the pairings that I’ve been the most proud of.”

Tees sees creating a dish like a puzzle, first exploring one ingredient and building on different flavours and textures while working with that element.

With the opportunity to use fresh produce, he enjoys taking a local ingredient and making it the star of the show, like summer squash, carrots and cucumber.

“The Okanagan fruits and vegetables are amazing,” he said. “Being able to visit the farms, I have to say this season, it mostly started with wanting to work with specific fresh ingredients."

“What’s great with Liquidity Wines is we’re very plant forward. We’re not a vegetarian restaurant, we do have some meat options but right now out of the 12 dishes that we have on the menu, only two have meat.”

Chef Phil Tees of Liquidity Bistro holding his summer squash dish.
Chef Phil Tees of Liquidity Bistro holding his summer squash dish.

The winery has many varietals, including Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Viognier, Merlot, Riesling and Dornfelder but Liquidity’s focus is on Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, said Nic Vanbergen, wine educator at Liquidity Wines.

New winemaker Amy Paynter is also bringing her experience from working in Napa Valley, California to the team. Hailing from New Zealand, she was also an assistant winemaker at CedarCreek Estate Winery, he said.

Visit Liquidity Wines at 4720 Allendale Road. For more information on the winery's hours of operation, visit its website.

Liquidity Wines in Okanagan Falls.
Liquidity Wines in Okanagan Falls.

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