Wild Blue has launched in Whistler, B.C.
And, you might be wondering what all the fuss is about. Another steak-and-seafood restaurant in a resort town that already has one in every major hotel? Big whoop.
Actually, yes, this is a very big deal because Wild Blue’s three principles — Jack Evrensel, Alex Chen, and Neil Henderson — are West Coast restaurant royalty. Evrensel is the restauranteur that put B.C. on the fine-dining map. In 1981, when Whistler was still a sleepy village with aging hippies squatting along the highway, he and his wife, Araxi, opened one of its first decent restaurants, an Italian trattoria, in her name.
Chef James Walt later elevated Araxi by diving deep into regional ingredients. The restaurant gained international recognition after the head chef position was dangled as a prize on Season 6 of Gordon Ramsay’s Hell’s Kitchen. And for our inaugural Canada’s 100 Best list, it ranked #58.
In the meantime, Evresenl’s Toptable Group had expanded into Vancouver with a succession of solid gold hits — CinCin, Blue Water Cafe, West, and Thierry. When Evrensel sold his empire to the Aquilini family in 2014, he was at the top of his game. And now, out of the blue, Jack is back.
Henderson was Evrensel’s most trusted lieutenant. He was the long-time director of both Araxi and special projects. He stay with Toptable and co-developed the spectacular Bar Oso and the new, vastly improved Il Caminetto.
Last but far from least is Alex Chen — the celebrated chef who vanquished HushAceson on the 2019 season of Iron Chef Canada, won the 2018 Canadian Culinary Championships, and led Team Canada to a top-10 finish at the 2013 Bocuse d’Or.
Chen is not leaving Vancouver’s Boulevard Kitchen + Oyster Bar, #9 on our 2022 list. But he has been camped in the mountains for the last few months overseeing every last detail in the kitchen and will be on-site weekly.
— ALEXANDRA GILL