Elevated Dining Onboard the Rocky Mountaineer

Eating while remaining stationary is for squares; eating aboard the Rocky Mountaineer is the real ticket

Executive chefs Jean Pierre Guerin and Frédéric Couton, hard at work.

It’s hard to top British Columbia salmon when it’s at its peak, but it’s even harder to top when it’s served in the GoldLeaf dining room onboard the Rocky Mountaineer train as it winds its way through the majestic Rocky Mountains past cascading rivers and waterfalls. Among the Mountaineer’s sleek blue-and-gold passenger cars are fully-staffed galley kitchens — tight quarters where chefs create three-course meals fresh from scratch, to serve in dining rooms outfitted with white table cloths, hotel silver, fresh flowers, and wine service. The food, service, and scenery make the greatest train journey in North America a culinary journey as well, and a luxury travel experience beyond description.

Which is a good thing, because being at a loss for words left my mouth free to savor the onboard menu created by French executive chefs Jean Pierre Guerin and Frédéric Couton. The pair brought their expertise from Michelin-starred restaurants and five-star hotels to the luxe Rocky Mountaineer train for luxurious menus that celebrate the distinctive flavors of the Pacific Northwest and Western Canada. 

“First and foremost, we use quality ingredients, including very high-quality seafood,” said Guerin, who spoke with The Daily Meal following lunch service onboard the Rocky Mountaineer as it was bound for achingly beautiful Banff National Park. Dishes include local ingredients such as Aldergrove berries, Alberta beef and pork, and wild Pacific tuna, paired with surprisingly fine Canadian wines from the Okanagan and Kamloops wine trails.

Asked about the many varieties of salmon in British Columbia, Chef Guerin happily gave a detailed, 15-minute answer. The gist: “The wild salmon must be optimal quality, so it has to be caught in the ocean at a certain time. The easiest place to catch wild British Columbia salmon is right at the mouth of the rivers when the salmon go up to spawn. That’s where it’s plentiful, but it’s not when the fish is at its best. ”

For consistent quality and flavor, Guerin sources his Rocky Mountaineer dining room fish from a BC specialist. “We use very high-quality farmed steelhead and Coho because they’re raised through excellent, sustainable techniques. The result is consistently delicious, unlike with wild fish.”

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A favorite with passengers is a sweet and smoky salmon recipe that uses Canadian maple sugar during the curing process.  Click here to see the recipe.