By Quinn Bender
If there’s one thing Rachel Braman is more passionate about than good food, it’s good local food. Since April the Sandspit resident (formerly of Masset) has taken that passion to the road with Haida Gwaii’s latest lunchtime offering, the I Love Local Mobile Eatery.
For Braman the small business is a dream come true. For the diners it’s an exiting (and welcome) new pasture in the Haida Gwaii food landscape.
“I’m called I Love Local. I need to use as many local, fresh ingredients as I possibly can, and I’ll forage for them and support local producers to get them,” she said
From sushi and salad rolls, Rubens and beef dips, to a light coconut curry salmon soup, Braman refuses to confine herself into a culinary corner (as demonstrated with her gourmet sous-vide prepared burgers with Chanterelle powder and sea asparagus seasoning).
The newly-minted proprietor got her start away from the heat of the kitchen, working as a front-end staffer for nearly a decade at five-star hotels across western Canada. At every opportunity, however, she lingered in the kitchen, speaking with chefs, observing their techniques, “adoring their food” and learning their craft. Then in 2007, after moving to Haida Gwaii, Masset’s Naden Lodge offered her first opportunity as a professional cook, where her skills and confidence found their rhythm.
The mobile eatery, in other words, is two decades in the making. And after Braman gave birth to her son, now six, it was time to put her aspirations into motion, in part to spend more time with her child.
“This is my total dream,” she said. “A dream come true. I can’t imagine anything else.”
At the heart of this dream is a black and chrome 20-foot cargo trailer that has only ever known a life as a kitchen (complete with six burners, two ovens, a flattop, a steamer and coolers) catering to hundreds of people per day in the Vancouver film industry. After some mechanical and aesthetic upgrades, and a long haul north last November, family helped Breman outfit the unit with a new water heater, and generator. Wayne Edenshaw designed a striking Haida-inspired logo, emblazoned across its sides, to add the finishing touch.
I Love Local officially opened for business April 30 at the Willows Golf Course. Since then the mobile eatery has been appearing regularly at the summer events scattered around the islands, but diners can usually find Braman at the Sandspit Community Centre from 11:30 to 2:30. Come summer’s end she is considering a move to the Sandspit Airport for regular lunches four days a week, and later plans to hire staff and expand her reach with pop-ups on Graham Island. Check out her Facebook page (I Love Local – Mobile Eatery) for daily menus and location updates.