Glen Emond sits near the Yukon River in Whitehorse on May. 9 and chows down on “The Glen” while his pup Pickle watches intently.(Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Putting a face to your food (and drink): the Yukoners who inspired menu items downtown

Spend enough time eating in downtown Whitehorse and you’ll find several establishments with food named after Yukoners.

Never has a bagel sandwich in downtown Whitehorse been more meta. Its layers have been picked with precision. Together they capture the ethos of the man who inspired it.

Called “The Glen,” named after musician Glen Emond, the sandwich is a combination of heaps of roast beef, pickled onions, Dijon aioli, lettuce and tomatoes.

“Because it’s the most beautiful, the most powerful, monosyllabic name we can think of, and also, our friend Glen is a wonderful, beefy, handsome God of a man,” said Adrian Burrill, co-owner of Bullet Hole Bagels, adding that the sandwich was wildly popular when the shop offered it as one of its weekly specials in the past.

“We came up with this beautiful sandwich, this glorious sandwich,” he said, “and we were like, ‘This needs a good name. We can’t just call this the roast beef and pickles.’”

There’s another layer to both sandwich and story: Pickles.

Yes, Emond has a dog named Pickle.

Burrill called this a “happy accident,” and “perfect,” so he naturally decided to throw on house-made pickles for good measure.

When “The Glen” was first introduced, Emond, a guitarist in Major Funk and the Employment, in which Burrill is also a member, came into the shop unaware of his sudden celebrity.

“He (Burrill) didn’t tell me about it or anything. I just happened to show up and they had ‘The Glen’ on the menu,” he said, noting that he did, in fact, order it. “I was thinking, ‘Is this some sort of conspiracy against me?’

“I’ll take it as half compliment, half poking fun at me. I’m just a regular guy, you know.”

(To coincide with the date of this article, Bullet Hole Bagels is bringing “The Glen” back.)

“I think it’s cool,” Emond said speaking about the idea. “It gives some homey vibes to the city. Little bit more personal touch for everyone involved, and there’s a bit of lore, I guess — I don’t know if I should be part of that lore.”

Spend enough time eating in downtown Whitehorse and you’ll pick up on the trend. Several downtown establishments have food named after Yukoners.

Jim Robb eats “The Jim Robb Special” at the Gold Pan Saloon in Whitehorse on May 11, 2019. The breakfast sandwich comes with lettuce, tomatoes, eggs and bacon, but Robb prefers his sandwich without veggies. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Walk up Main Street to the Gold Pan Saloon and you’ll find the “The Jim Robb Special,” for instance, a “glorified” toasted bacon and egg sandwich with tomatoes, cheese and lettuce.

Manager Heather Horsnell said Robb, a well-known local artist, is a fixture there.

“He frequents our bar at many different hours of the morning or evening and that’s what he always wanted to have,” she said.

Asked how it all started, Robb, who’s lived in the Yukon for more than 60 years, said, “I got no idea. All of a sudden, I’m at the restaurant, gonna order something to eat and I see my name there, ha, you know, it’s a surprise to me.

“It’s a novel idea,” he continued. “Not exactly Popeye and spinach, but interesting.”

When it comes to showcasing the Yukon’s character, this is one way to do that, Robb said.

“I think our territory should be paying more attention to our colourful individuals. I think tourism should do more along that line. I believe we’re missing the boat by not showing our interesting people. What we have right now is an explosion of the arts up here.”

Heather’s husband, Shane Horsnell, who isn’t affiliated with the Gold Pan Saloon but conceded to spending too much money at the establishment over the years, said that Robb is part of the “colourful five per cent.”

“To see Jim walking down the street at 4 p.m. to get some bacon and eggs when nobody’s selling that — that’s just Jim,” he said.

Colin Asselstine inspired “Colin’s Breakfast” at Woodcutter’s Blanket. It’s a dish without frills, inexpensive, one that sticks to your ribs.

Colin Asselstine enjoys a “Colin’s Breakfast” and a “Long Colin” at Woodcutter’s Blanket in Whitehorse on May 12.(Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

“I don’t like fancy things,” he said. “I’m pretty meat and potatoes kind of guy.”

When Ayla Smith, the chef, was putting together her menu, Asselstine said he told her, “You need a breakfast for like, you know, hungry guys.

“Ayla was able to come up with a breakfast for me that is just amazing,” he said.

The plate was introduced in mid-March, when Woodcutter’s rolled out its brunch menu. It comes with bacon and sausage from Off the Hook Meat Works, eggs, hash browns and toast from Alpine Bakery.

“He’s a real cowboy,” said co-owner James Maltby.

The brunch is going on hiatus because of a staffing issue, Maltby said, but it could be brought back in the fall. There could also be brunch pop-ups.

There’s an item that isn’t going anywhere, though, another nod to Asselstine.

“The Long Colin,” a play on a Long Island iced tea in that it subs extra vodka in for tequila (Asselstine has an aversion to the latter).

“The only place in the Yukon that makes one of those is the Woodcutter’s,” he said, noting that the drink eventually became permanent with his “strange requests.”

“My friends started drinking it now and there’s bars in Vancouver that even know what a Long Colin is.”

Contact Julien Gignac at julien.gignac@yukon-news.com

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