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Credit: Catherine Roscoe Barr

BC spot prawns are only in season from May to June but you can now eat sustainable seafood all year long at YEW Restaurant

YEW Restaurant's executive chef Ned Bell’s commitment to sustainable seafood and support of local producers heightens his exquisite seasonal menus for brunch, lunch, cocktails and dinner

One of my favourite things about living in Vancouver is the people. And the more I get to know many of the forward-thinking people in Vancouver’s restaurant industry who practice and model sustainable ways of eating, the more inspired I am to transform the way I eat out, buy groceries and prepare food at home.

Eating is not only one of the greatest joys in life (in my opinion), but is the fuel that builds our bodies – we truly are what we eat – and what we eat has an enormous impact on our environment.

On June 8 – World Oceans Day – I had dinner at YEW restaurant + bar in celebration of its partnership with the Vancouver Aquarium's Ocean Wise program.

Ocean Wise Has over 3,100 Partner Locations across Canada

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A giant prawn graces the lobby outside of YEW in the Four Seasons, marking its commitment to sustainable seafood and partnership with the Vancouver Aquarium's Ocean Wise program

YEW joins over 3,100 Ocean Wise partner locations across Canada who proudly display the Ocean Wise symbol next to sustainable seafood menu items, so you can rest assured that what’s on your plate is ocean-friendly.

And with executive chef Bell, who joined YEW last summer after a string of high profile stints beginning at Lumiere and leading to Food Network Canada, you can also expect a super fresh menu of delicate, light-hearted and precisely prepared seafood, as well as steak, chicken and pasta, and even a gourmet vegan menu.

Overfishing is the Number One Issue for Oceans

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Vancouver Aquarium president John Nightingale, left, and executive chef Ned Bell at YEW’s World Oceans Day dinner

The Vancouver Aquarium’s president, John Nightingale, says that overfishing is currently the number one issue for the world’s oceans. When he kicked off the World Oceans Day dinner at YEW, he said that the decision to eat sustainable seafood is one of the most important things we can do for our oceans.

Organizations like Ocean Wise, which focuses on restaurants, and Sea Choice, which focuses on retail products, make it easy to make the right choices by placing their seal of approval on sustainable products.

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Chef Bell and Steve Johansen from Organic Ocean teamed up to make the best canned tuna ever (I’ve tried it and here's what I made with mine), which can be purchased at YEW, while quantities last, for $9 each. The Ocean Wise certified tuna has only two ingredients: tuna and love

Chef Bell not only supports local fishers – like his good friend Steve Johansen from Organic Ocean – and farmers, but is a big believer in education. YEW’s "ocean-to-table" philosophy empowers diners to help support local producers and do their part to ensure the oceans' health for years to come. 

"My focus on local and sustainable comes from my love and appreciation for our sense of place," says Bell. "I was born on a farm [in the Okanagan] and I have always loved the honest, authentic quality that artisans bring."

"I am simply the artist who brings it to life on the plate," he says. "Seafood, fruits, veggies… it just doesn’t get any better than the west coast and surrounding areas."

Bell’s menus - from brunch and lunch to cocktails and dinner - reflect his reverence for the products of our local oceans and land.

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YEW's lead bartender Justin Taylor, left, and his new (and super refreshing) Eden 100-mile cocktail with organic vodka from Pemberton, balsamic vinegar from Vancouver Island, tomatoes from the Fraser Valley, and basil from YEW’s rooftop garden

Be sure to sidle up to the bar where bartender Justin Taylor will make you an Eden 100-mile cocktail (pictured above), $13 – which he calls a "bizarre twist on a Bloody Mary" and I call an upgrade. It tastes like a caprese salad and is lightly carbonated using a special carbonation machine.

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The lobster nachos, $19, and composed oysters, $5 to $8, are part of YEW’s new cocktail and lounge menu

Order the decadent lobster nachos, $19, with big chunks of lobster, a sweet and sour vinaigrette and a delicious jalapeno kick, or get fancy with your choice of composed oysters: Sweet ‘n’ Sour Effingham, $5, with Glasshouse strawberries and balsamic vinegar mignonette; Foie Gras Fat Bastard, $6, with frozen foie gras and honey pearls; Caviar Kumamoto, $8, with Northern Divine Caviar, preserved lemon and creme fraiche.

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Apparently a lot of couples order the "We Make It YEW Shake It" whiskey sour, pictured above – definitely a surefire way to break the ice on a first date

If you want to precede an amazing drink with a little fun and fitness, order the “We Make It YEW Shake It” whiskey sour, $11, made with house-spiced whiskey aged in an American Oak barrel for six weeks, lemon, cane sugar, egg whites, and homemade bitters. The drink is assembled in a glass mason jar and then it’s up to you to shake it to perfection. Fun!

Warning: Taylor's whiskey sour is one of those bevvies that is so delicious and easy to drink that I found myself at the bottom of the glass not long after I was done shaking.

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The seafood charcuterie board is a tasty sampling of tuna, salmon, oysters and seafood sausage – and the accompanying scones are to die for

The seafood charcuterie, $29, is a must-order. It comes with delicate smoked albacore tuna, cured wild salmon, smoked oysters, seafood sausage, fromage frais, homemade pickles, and melt-in-your-mouth lemon nori scones.

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The World Oceans Day dinner, featuring roasted halibut with sweet and sour cherries and chimichurri, pictured above, was a one-off menu but guests can enjoy similar dishes like the grilled halibut with little neck clams until halibut season is over in November

For dinner expect expertly prepared seafood like the grilled halibut, $30, with little neck clams, olive oil broth, sweet peppers, fennel, zucchini and celery hearts, or terrestrial dishes with equal pizazz like the beef filet mignon, $41, with buttered lobster, sweet carrot purée and handmade gnocchi.

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The grilled and marinated flank steak with warm lobster, potato salad, fresh peas and ramps, pictured above, was part of the Word Oceans Day menu but you can order similar surf and turf like the beef filet mignon with buttered lobster from the current dinner menu

Sommelier and sales manager Emily Walker gets credit for a fantastic wine list with over 300 labels – and, thanks to YEW's wine preservation machine, guests can enjoy every single bottle by the glass.

Be sure to stop by YEW on "Wine Down Sundays," where every bottle in the cellar is 50% off, and get Walker’s expert opinion on perfect pairings for your seafood (or terrestrial eats) whether you’re having brunch, lunch, cocktails or dinner.

YEW restaurant + bar is located in the Four Seasons hotel at 791 West Georgia Street, Vancouver.