Breakwater Cafe Chef David Furlonger Influenced by Ocean Kelp

The objects we surround ourselves with can remind us of who we are and connect us to other people, places and times. YAM invited some of Victoria’s most fascinating people to tell the story of the object that matters most to them.

By Kerry Slavens // Photo by Jeffrey Bosdet

OBJECTS: Bull kelp and Polaris handmade Spanish knife

OWNER: David Furlonger, avid forager and executive chef, Breakwater Tasting Room.

It’s ironic we asked David Furlonger to model for us with his favourite objects, because one of the first things he says when he arrives for the photo shoot is that’s he’s not the kind of person who feels attachment to inanimate objects. But the beautiful piece of bull kelp he foraged just that morning from the local shore is different. “There’s spirit in there,” he says. “It feels like it has life right up until you ingest it.”

And that’s Furlonger to the core. A guy who values experience over things, who thrives on surfing in Nicaragua, who loves to forage and bring the wild to his menus, which quickly put the Breakwater Tasting Room, opened last summer, on the city’s culinary list.

But back to that bull kelp. “To me, bull kelp represents my entire adult life and coming into my own, culinary-wise,” he says. He first encountered it as surfer who had to come to terms with the slimy, tangled nature of the kelp.

As his comfort level with the ocean grew, fear turned to irritation when he discovered bull kelp could actually dent a surfboard. “Finally, I got over all of that and just became amused. Then the culinary stuff came in and I looked at it in a whole new way.” Today, the aquatic plant is featured on Furlonger’s menus at the Breakwater in everything from pickles to relishes. 

As for that Spanish knife with the stainless steel blade and beechwood handle, it’s beautiful but it’s not the sharpest knife or the best knife, he says. “But it has character and that means a lot to me. That adds pleasure to cooking.”

This article is from the September/October 2019 issue of YAM.