Fishy People seeks to share the joy of inventive festive food
“Food is artistic expression at its absolute finest. We all need to eat, it’s a necessity of life – but there’s no reason why that has to be mundane.”
For Niki Mckenzie, chef and owner of Fishy People in Yellowknife, food is an experience to be shared this holiday. But not just the regular festive food you might imagine.
Ahead of this holiday season, Mckenzie is previewing fresh oysters she plans to serve.
“We are very fortunate to have an oyster broker who’s coming in from the Wayfarer Oyster House in Whitehorse, and he’s bringing 1,000 oysters with him,” she said.
“So those are available for the holiday season – $50 for shucked or unshucked – and they come with accoutrements. And they are for dining or take away.”
Mckenzie also has five Christmas cakes for sale that incorporate about two bottles of brandy between them.
“They’re an absolute pain to make, but I did it,” she said.
More broadly, Mckenzie views the concept of a meal as a “sensory overload” and says she tries to create unique menus that touch the senses of taste, sound, texture and smell, alongside the more general ambience of dining.
Freshly caught fish are incorporated into the meals she serves at her restaurant, where fish sausages, livers and hearts can be purchased through the attached butchery.
The fish and fish parts, she said, are great to share with Elders who may not have easy access to country foods.
Looking for foodie stocking stuffers? Mckenzie pointed to sauces she makes like tomato jam, spicy mango ginger chutney, and habanero mustard. Fillets, sauces, and gift cards for the butchery and restaurant are available both online and in store.
“You have the joy of receiving and then you have the joy of sharing, because very, very few people receive a food gift and then keep it to themselves,” she said.
“[Food] often then leads into another shared experience, which might lead us to another shared experience, and so on and so forth. So say you get a bottle of sauce, and you give that to someone, then that someone creates a meal and invites you over to share that meal together. You know, it’s much, much bigger than just the product itself.”
She pointed to her own restaurant as an example.
“You don’t come and expect to leave in 45 minutes, you’re going to be there for an hour, hour and a half. You’re going to be tasting a new experience and all different flavours and elements and textures, and smells and sights and sounds,” she said, noting weekend brunch is becoming a very popular time to come with friends and share a meal.
Mckenzie said the menu is “constantly rotating” to ensure there is something new to try. “I have been known to change the menu three to four times a week.”
She encouraged people to shop locally at small businesses this season, which she said are working hard to make Yellowknife a vibrant place to live.
“The best gift you can give your community is to be involved in it. The small businesses around town that are here are trying to do something very special to create a place for us all to live and enjoy,” she said.
“The town doesn’t really function without small businesses to build that sense of community and that sense of belonging.”
Fishy People will be closed on Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Mckenzie is still setting the rest of the holiday hours, so check Fishy People’s Facebook page for updates.
This article appears as part of a paid partnership with NWT Tourism inviting northerners to Give the Gift of Experience this holiday season. Watch out for six articles highlighting different experiences you can try in the Northwest Territories, even if you already live here.