Prawn festival gathering steam

The second annual Okanagan Spot Prawn Festival was recently held at The Cove Lakeside Resort in West Kelowna

Jon Crofts

Jon Crofts

The second annual Okanagan Spot Prawn Festival at The Cove Lakeside Resort in West Kelowna was a huge success.

With sunny skies above, the patio was roared with seafood fans roaming the restaurant stations tasting delicious spot prawn-focused bites prepared by local chefs.

The Cove’s Bonfire Grill chef Grant de Montreuil was sautéing spot prawns with a splash of Sambuca, sending tempting aromas through the air while Poppadom’s across the way perfumed the air with exotic Indian spice. Hillside Estate Bistro, Joy Road Catering, Nineteen Grill & Lounge, Ricardo’s Mediterranean Kitchen and The Terrace at Mission Hill Family Estate all had stations set up with beautiful creations to share.

Jon and Anne-Marie Crofts from Kelowna’s Codfathers Seafood were at the centre of it all with live spot prawns on display and for sale. Jon Crofts, the sea-loving gent who spearheaded bringing this coastal celebration home to the interior, made a grueling dash down to the Coast the day before to fetch this live haul direct from the sea.

The venerable chef Robert Clark from Vancouver’s C Restaurant was also set up nearby, offering lucky guests a soupcon of his Spot Prawn Gazpacho (see recipe). Jon describes chef Clark as being “responsible basically for reintroducing spot prawns to the B.C. culinary scene.”

Crofts explains that “previously, 90 per cent of prawns were being exported to Asia, so Rob got together with some progressive local fishermen and decided to change this.

“With the help of the chefs table society, they started the Vancouver Spot Prawn Festival to increase public awareness of the product, and to stimulate local demand in order to get the fishermen the price locally that they could get abroad for the prawns. It became a great success, and has spawned other festivals in the province including our own, so that now our prawns are 80 per cent consumed in Canada.”

As a result of this initiative, Crofts “has seen demand in the Okanagan increase exponentially in the last three years”.

Wild B.C. spot prawns are a delicacy known around the world for their sweet, delicate flavour and firm texture. They are most recognizable for their reddish brown colour, which turns bright pink when cooked, defining white spots on their tail and white horizontal bars on the carapace. Spot prawns are the largest of the seven commercial species of shrimp found on the West Coast of Canada.

For more information about wild B.C. spot prawns, visit



Jennifer Schell  is the editor of B.C. Food and Wine Trails magazine.