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Gourmet vinegar on the menu in Alert Bay

By Kathy O'Reilly, North Island Eagle, July 12 2024

 hippie phase with a tantalizing taste sensation that is making a splash on the North Island. Bill and Jenny Phillips have created a new gourmet food product - Alert Bay Vinegars. 

Alert Bay Vinegars was inspired by Jenny’s love of berries.

“Jenny has always enjoyed being out and picking berries since she was a young girl with her mother making jams and jellies. She started making vinegars,” Bill recalls.

“A few years later as part of her ‘hippie stage’ as she has called it,” she started to make them and share them with friends and family.

The biggest part of making vinegars is time. 

“It does take a few weeks of curing the berries to get the right flavour. We then cook off the vinegar and add a little natural cane sugar to it,” Bill explained.

“We have learned about the high antioxidants in a lot of the berries we pick and use the vinegars in salad dressing and as a cordial in water or soda water.”

Alert Bay Vinegars and jellies are sold at the Alert Bay Sunday market all summer long, although the couple did venture across the pond for the Port Alice Canada Day Farmers’ Market.

“We really enjoyed the Port Alice market and would love to do more. I am hoping to do the Port McNeill market at some point this summer, but working in the restaurant takes a lot of our time.” 

There are some Air BnBs that feature their product and they are also sold at the Orca Restaurant.

“We feature our vinegars in all types of cocktails and mocktails that have proved very popular,” he said.

“Both Jenny and I work at the Orca Restaurant. It has been open for just over a year now and it has been fun to work with a small, but dedicated, group of staff that have all been in the industry for many decades. We have all enjoyed showing and sharing different menu items not always found on menus up in the North Island here,” says Bill. 

Both Jenny and Bill are long time servers that have worked in high end resorts and restaurants, both as managers and serving. At the Orca Restaurant, they work with a great chef (Stef) from Quebec. 

Bill and Jenny moved to Cormorant Island just over four years ago. 

“COVID was the main reason we ended up moving up to Alert Bay. We had sold our house in Courtenay in February of 2020 and had to move out in mid-March,” said Bill. 

“Of course, COVID was in full bloom by then and we had to change all our plans. We ended up in Alert Bay doing a volunteer opportunity and we just fell in love with the community and the people here,” he said. 

“We were in Courtenay for just a couple of years, thought it was a good idea to settle down and enjoy our grandkids that were being born around then. It was not where we wanted to be,” he said. 

“We both love Alert Bay and look forward to spending our lives here and sharing with the community while just enjoying all it has to offer.”

Photo — Submitted

Bill and Jenny Phillips, with cat Uki Uki, have created a new gourmet food product - Alert Bay Vinegars. Their home has 99.5 per cent edible food that they grow and share with the community, including some berries for heir vinegars.

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