World-renowned Chef Michael Smith has outdone himself. When he and his wife, Chastity, bought the Inn at Bay Fortune two years ago, it was bankrupt. Since then, all the rooms have been refurbished and the Inn has morphed into a Canada Select 5-star Country Inn. It’s now practically booked solid until the fall. Moreover, they threw the word “fine dining” out the window, replacing it with the FireWorks Feast. It’s so popular that every dinner is sold out days ahead of time.
What caused this astounding turn-around? Chef Smith focused on three words: farm, fire, and feast.
They hired a farm couple to run “the farm” and grow large plots of herbs and eight acres of vegetables. The on-site farmers also built greenhouses, and are raising pigs with names like Crispy and Bacon.
But here is where things get really interesting. “One hundred percent of our menu is prepared with live fire. Not just prepared with live fire, but prepared interactively with the guests. It’s a kitchen party,” Chef Michael says with a grin. “This is the Maritimes! This is how we roll.”
How it all works
An atelier of young chefs, referred to as “The Fire Brigade”—led by Chef de Cuisine Cobey Adams—not only cook the food, they also harvest it, prepare it, and serve it.
Dinner is a 7-course meal spanning four hours. We gathered at 6 p.m. for the first course, called the “Oyster hour” and roamed about to four different food stations.
In the upper corner of the herb garden we watched sausages being grilled over a maple-wood fire, and dipped bite-sized hunks in a farm-made mustard sauce followed by chopped herbs. Closer to the Inn, we enjoyed slivers of seasoned lamb cooked in cast iron pans over the fire pit then wrapped in bok choy, grilled, and finally laced with a curried onion cream.
Inside, we were served Lucky Lime oysters with a dollop of Bloody Mary ice, then meandered into another area to enjoy smoked catfish on an inn-made seedy cracker drizzled with Cajun spiced aioli.
At each stop we chatted with the chefs, learned where the food came from and what was involved in its preparation. And that was the first course!
The next six courses were staged in the FireWorks kitchen that features everything from a wood- burning oven to an open hearth, grill, rotisserie, and smoke house along the back wall of the dining room.
We sat at long tables, elbow to elbow with strangers. But they weren’t strangers for long. Collectively, we enjoyed a celebration of island food like no other. Six more courses followed with simple names like “Bread & Butter Board,” “Chowder Kettle,” and “Today’s Catch.” Yet each course was spectacular. Even the simple “Home Grown Salad” featured 33 ingredients from the farm.
Words fail. After a dazzling desert that consisted in part of a parsnip sponge cake and home-made ice cream, we waddled to bed. Book now. Seats (and beds) are getting to be a scarce commodity. http://innatbayfortune.com/