Chef’s Corner: Derek Bendig, Wild Blue Restaurant + Bar, Whistler, B.C.

Chef Derek Bendig of Wild Blue Restaurant

By Roseline Victoria Vijayakumar 

Every dish tells a story — its ingredients woven with purpose, inspiration and creativity. Chef Derek Bendig’s culinary journey reflects his profound connection to food, rooted in warm childhood memories of family gatherings and celebrations. Today, he helms Wild Blue Restaurant + Bar in Whistler, B.C. What got me into cooking is the teamwork and the competitiveness of the kitchen rather than just a passion for food,” he reminisces.

Bendig says the kitchen became an outlet for his creative side and the collaborative atmosphere, “hooked him into the industry.”

“I played competitive sports my whole life and was always big into team sports. Pushing each other to be better was the drive for me.” The kitchen was the chef’s arena for growth and collaboration — an environment where individuals pushed each other to excel. 

Equipped with a strong foundation in culinary arts from Vancouver’s Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts, Bendig embarked on a journey of exploration, including working in Toronto for more than a decade, a brief stint in France and teaching at George Brown College. 

With his vast culinary repertoire shaped by each of his diverse experiences, Bendig is currently the executive chef at Wild Blue Restaurant + Bar in Whistler, B.C., where he crafts his menu with a focus on simplicity and authenticity. He says his culinary style is characterized by his reverence for ingredients. “My culinary style is pretty understated. I like to keep it simple and just let the ingredients speak. I give a little nudge to make them shine and not confuse it too much. When you’re younger, you keep adding things to dishes. I’m at a stage in my career where [I’d rather] take ingredients away to keep it cleaner and simpler.”

Wild Blue’s menu emphasizes the local seafood culture of B.C., while drawing inspiration from coastal regions worldwide. The restaurant aims to offer novelty to its diverse clientele, with a menu highlighting an exploration of exciting flavours. Chef recommendations include the Sablefish with turnip, radish, mistake mushroom, sesame and roasted fish bone sauce ($64) and house-made linguine served with geoduck, littleneck clams, basil and chilies ($36). 

Reflecting on his culinary journey, Bendig acknowledges the incredible success he has seen in a short time. His joy, however, stems from seeing his staff grow under his mentorship. 

“The biggest achievement for me is teaching others and then watching them grow and become excellent cooks.” Witnessing his team’s success and watching them evolve into skilled professionals, competing and winning competitions gives him a sense of fulfilment. “Their success is the biggest achievement of my career.”

Looking ahead, Bendig remains staunchly committed to the pursuit of culinary excellence with aspirations of further growth and expansion. He emphatically concludes, “We have done excellent so far, but there is still a long way to go.” 

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.