Hungry? Go local-organic in Qualicum Beach

Restaurant uses as many local ingredients as possible

Kyla Campbell and James Hannah

They planned on a food truck, but when the space came open, Radius Food Co. settled into a little house in Qualicum Beach in March and have been busy ever since.

“Oh yeah, people have all kinds of opinions about a different sign,” said co-owner Kyla Campbell of their understated location near the beach, “but we get the word out through social media and keep pretty busy.”

Campbell, from Qualicum Beach, and her partner and co-chef James Hannah, met working at Butlers Restaurant in town and have worked in higher end restaurants in Montreal and the Okanagan, but moved back here to start their business.

Hannah, a formally trained red seal chef, Campbell points out, is from Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, and both were happy to move back to the coast.

Wanting to work for themselves, they staged a few “pop up” restaurant events over the winter, offering a special menu for a night when existing restaurants were closed.

They purchased a truck and began refurbishing to start a mobile business before deciding to settle into the permanent location.

“I’ve always been in love with food,” Campbell recently told The NEWS, while Hannah kept the kitchen running.

“When we thought about starting a business here, we were a bit fearful at first,” she admitted, “but people were looking for something different.”

She added they are proud to be the first local-organic focused restaurant in the area “and we want to encourage others to do the same.”

She said they wouldn’t see it so much as competition, but an important  new way of thinking about food.

While Campbell thinks of genetically modified-free and organic as the way of the future, she doesn’t expect everyone to switch overnight, “it’s just about awareness.”

“People realize if you use higher quality ingredients from the start, the food tastes better,” she said, suggesting their style is ‘Island Soul Food,’ with the tag “real local flavour.”

The extra focus on quality local ingredients adds work to their long days, Campbell said, explaining they don’t use a central food distributor like most restaurants, but order individually from local producers and even drive around the region to pick it up.

They get their pork from Slopping Hill Farm, just up the hill, she pointed out, and have an arrangement with the Kwalikum Food Forest garden to provide all their kale, while they give them back all their compost.

They serve things like Tofino coffee, Island Soda Works drinks and tea from Cowichan’s Teafarm.

The local focus also means they have a lot of seasonal offerings like their current — made fresh when ordered — strawberry fritter.

Other notable menu items include their bone broth, “just like mom gives you when you’re sick,” their popular fish tacos with Island-made corn tortillas, and their most local, “Qualicum bowl” with pork, rice and veggies.

“It has been quite the learning curve.”

Radius (250-738-1158) is at 3298 Island Highway, open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday to Saturday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday and closed Monday and Tuesday.

Check www.facebook.com/radiusfoodco for more information including details on their occasional Sunday live music, with Luca Fogale scheduled for July 19.

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