Last year Ned Bell — author of seafood cookbook Lure: Sustainable Seafood Recipes from the West Coast and former executive chef of Vancouver Aquarium’s Ocean Wise Seafood conservation program — returned home. The Penticton-born chef became a co-owner — with his wife, PR whiz Kate Colley, and partners Paul Hollands and Maria Wiesner — of the Naramata Inn, an unpolished 1907 wine-country gem, now regaining its lustre as “a really good restaurant…with rooms,” as touted on the inn’s website. Bell describes becoming an owner as “memoir-making stuff…a roller-coaster ride.” Already, the Naramata is the hottest reservation of summer.
What’s on the menu? Should we expect seafood at the Naramata Inn?
I affectionately call our food “French Naramatian.” The seasons change weekly here, and we are proud to forage, harvest and elevate our menus with the best of this region. Seafood features prominently and our customers really enjoy it. We’ve got wild B.C. sockeye salmon caught in Osoyoos Lake by the Okanagan Nation Alliance fisheries, and farmed Arctic char from an apple orchard in [the town of] Oliver.
You created an “At Home” food line this past winter. Any other products in the works?
We are working with our farmer, Gurmit, on harvesting fallen fruits that are left in orchards and turning them into preserves, ferments, pickles and butters.
What’s it like to be back in a restaurant kitchen?
Having the opportunity to design this kitchen from scratch, on a project centred around a hyper-local culinary experience in my “home region,” is a happy evolution. I am most at home in a restaurant kitchen and I get a lot of energy from working with creative teams, passionate chefs, dedicated suppliers and feeding people really good, really thoughtful food.
Photo credit: (Naramata Inn) John Hollands