There is no closer knit community amongst restaurants and producers than in Comox Valley. For this year’s 11th annual BC Shellfish & Seafood Festival, we had a chance to sit down with Locals Restaurant co-owner and chef, Ronald St. Pierre. We were excited to learn the way he works with his community to run his business. Keep reading for a full interview.
Click the link below for an audio interview.
Chef Ronald St. Pierre: In any community, large or small, people need to think beyond their four walls. Yes, you are an establishment, but you have to consider the community you are in. So if you are involved in growing the community and the tourism towards the area, everyone needs to work together. You’ll all benefit as one.
Instead of having a competitive approach where you are trying to get the customer into your business alone, we can work together to promote the community at large and even refer customers to each other. Even if they choose a competitor, maybe next time, the customer will come and see you when they come back to the Comox Valley. They’ll be educated on how much there is to do here and will come back – it won’t be a one-off trip.
So for us, it has been very important to do that. And when it comes to working to increase tourism in the area, working with your community through pure involvement is so important.
There are very different aspects of being involved in the community. You can help to run run functions, fundraisers, take part in all the festivals. All the effort we make together will meet a mutual goal of creating more tourism and economic activity for the Comox Valley.
Act Like a Local Concierge
It’s crucial to help the public that comes and eats in our restaurant be aware of all the activities that are around besides just us. Humans can only have maybe three or maybe four meals that day (for the really hungry ones) and if you are here for a whole day, there are many other activities that will make the trip worthwhile.
And so when you are involved in the community, you have those connections, you have the knowledge to be able to recommend the customers activities such as going to the farm, a winery, a brewery… All of that tourism creates the synergy that makes it more fun for people to come to the area to have a great experience and want to come back and tell their friends.
So it’s very important that when you are involved in the community and working in collaboration with other people, we are all able to achieve bigger and better things.
We have a culinary branch uniting us here called the Canadian Culinary Federation, or the CCFCC that brings us together as a network. But also, just by nature in the Comox Valley, it is a pretty friendly place. People are by nature easy to get along with.
We were talking earlier about sustainability in restaurants (Paul & chef, link here). When we moved to this location, we decided it was important for us to ensure our business had environmental sustainability. We were able to achieve Level 3 with Leaf Canada, which is the environmental assessment for restaurants. We were the first one in BC to get that!
It is important not only what you do, but also how you do it to minimize the footprint you leave behind.
From all of us at Tangoo, thank you, chef, for sharing with us your experience and reflections on the food community in the Comox Valley. We’ll be back for more next year!