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FATHOM: A deep dive into island ingredients from Chef Peter Kim

From the fathomable to the unfathomable, Fathom is a great spot to explore creative, locally-inpired food and drink, from morning 'till night.

Sablefish with prawn cake odens, cauliflower puree and nori sand at Fathom



It’s always tricky to design a hotel restaurant to serve both visitors and lure locals, but the new F&B team at Fathom in the Hotel Grand Pacific is hitting the sweet spot.

There’s a comfortable vibe in the new modern space, whether you take a seat at the long bar for a creative cocktail or sink into a comfortable sofa at a low table overlooking the harbour. The glass enclosed terrace, with its dancing fire pits and cosy blankets, may well be the best place in town to enjoy a wintery hot toddy or a bubbly pot of fondue with friends.

Firepit tables on the cosy covered patio at Fathom make it an alluring spot for cocktails, even in winter

And, thanks to the creative vision of Executive Chef Peter Kim, diving into Fathom’s eclectic menu is equally alluring.

When I sat down with the Chef Kim to talk about his culinary inspirations, it was soon apparent that he loves to riff on all of the local island ingredients at his fingertips, while exploring the broader world of food.

Kim — who has cooked in Singapore, Brisbane, San Francisco, Vancouver and the Alberta Rockies — brings a wide breadth of experience to Fathom. He trained at the Le Cordon Bleu cooking school in Ottawa so French cooking is his foundation, but classic recipes are only the starting point for his imaginative treatment of local and seasonal ingredients.

“I try to dive into local products and do something unique,” he says. “It’s important for every chef to diversify their knowledge and experience. There’s always a UN meeting happening in my head.”

Spaghetti Vongole with squid ink pasta, gem tomatoes, chili, clams, white tiger prawns, ricotta, tobiko, bottarga

While running Vancouver kitchens, Kim says much of the seafood he used came from Vancouver Island and now he’s inspired to create unique dishes with the fresh Albacore tuna, sablefish, Giant Pacific octopus and Humboldt squid available from local suppliers.

Other island ingredients are top of mind, with foragers and growers arriving with Lion’s Mane and shimeji mushrooms or briny fresh seaweed, and Kim is seeking sources for gooseneck barnacles, razor clams and spruce tips, too.

Humboldt squid with fried brussels sprouts at Fathom

For now, Fathom’s menu includes many lovely local and sharable plates, elevated with Kim’s creative touch — from the tender Humbolt squid in his crispy calamari appetizer with fried Brussels sprouts and chorizo vinaigrette, to the octopus plate, with fingerling potatoes, edamame and house made XO sauce.

Addictive cheese bun roll with charred onion and Gruyere to nosh with cocktails at Fathom

Kim describes his menu as multicultural, but his Korean heritage is reflected in almost every dish — whether the beef tartare, theatrically delivered in a smoking bowl with hoisin and sesame goma sauce, the crisp karaage chicken starter with a sweet and spicy gochujang glaze, or the bulgogi marinade and Asian slaw with his Wagyu Burger. There’s even a Japanese twist to the seafood chowder, with kaiso (mixed seaweed), and a soft green Matcha Cheesecake with yuzu yogurt cream for dessert.

By day, the large restaurant space, with its big arched windows overlooking the harbour, is perfect for a late breakfast or brunch. But as night falls, the darker, moodier lounge is enticing for both singles and groups, to share plates or engage with the creative mixologists. On weekends, there’s live jazz to enjoy while you dive into the drinks menu, one that plunges from familiar to “unfathomable” depths.

Diving into the deep with Fathom bartender Patrick Woo.

Artfully illustrated with line drawings by a local tattoo artist, the cocktail list features an impressive whisky selection, including their own Spirit of the Deep whisky, created exclusively for Fathom by DeVine Distillery in Saanich.

Cocktails on the artfully illustrated menu — from fathomable to unfathomable.

Whether it’s a piece of art pottery or a seasonal ingredient, Kim says his generous share plates reflect this creative space, where diners are invited to relax and connect. In future, he hopes to have sharable platters featuring whole fish or big bone-in, Tomahawk steaks, taking the family-style concept to a new level.

“I tell my chefs, you should never be satisfied with the menu you have,” says Kim, “because if you don’t experiment, if you stop exploring other ideas, you don’t grow.”

His goal is to create innovative and approachable food in a room that takes its name and inspiration from the sea — a menu that, like the ocean depths, is something wild and wonderful to explore.

This story originally appeared in EAT magazine

©Cinda Chavich 2024


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