An Afternoon Well Spent With Tofino Fisherman Lutz Zilliken
by Bobby Lax | In this interview I sit down with Lutz Zilliken, owner of Tofino’s West Pacific Seafood and the Fish Store (because he smokes a beautiful fish and has a great big grin on as he does it).
Born and raised: Born in Weilburg Germany, moved to Canada when I was 13.
Education: Bailed after grade 11.
What brought you to Tofino? Salmon fishing and commercial diving for geoduck and sea cucumbers.
What keeps you here? In the short term my store needs fish cut. In the long term I love the summers.
The person in town you most respect and why? Spencer Vaird. I have never heard him say a single bad word about anybody.
The best place to go in the area that not many people know about? Cannery Bay. There is this dock with a slide. You got to go there to understand.
The number of times that you have moved away from Tofino and then moved back? Zero, been here since 1993.
Your favourite local artist? Can’t pick one so I would say Mark Hobson for his underwater paintings, Paul Sam for his jewellery and Keith Plummley for his beautiful wooden plates.
First place you take friends who are visiting? Out on the ocean.
Best drink in town? SoBo’s hand squeezed key lime Margaritas.
Best job you have ever had? Cod Jigger. You just had to reel them up nice and slow.
Worst job you have ever had? When I was 16 my Dad’s friend who was a welder gave me a job as a “favour” to my Dad. He then told me to paint six 12×18 ft doors with a two inch brush so I would stay out of his way.
The music you most want to listen to while you cut fish? Kid Rock, ACDC, Moe, Snoop Dog and Offspring.
Luckiest moment of your life? Winning $17,000 between 3 guys at the Port of Sydney fishing derby after catching a 28lb salmon.
Your favourite musical instrument? Fish whistle.
Your greatest accomplishment? I have not done it yet. I am always looking for a new project.
The Biggest Salmon you ever caught? 50lbs, even.
The item that you have had the longest? My Dad’s old fishing rod. It is from the 1950s. I know that I have it somewhere in my house.
Salmon or Halibut? Salmon. It is all about the fatty belly.
Flip Flops or Wellies? Flip Flops.
Tofino in the summer or Tofino in the winter? Summer. As I said earlier, I do not like the winters.
Coyote or the Roadrunner? The Coyote, hehe.
Fiction or non-fiction? Fiction.
Bicycle or motorcycle? Bicycle, every time I get on a motorcycle I drive too fast and nearly kill myself.
Dog or cat? Dog.
Indoor or outdoor? Outdoor.
Lantern Festival or Food and Wine Festival? Food and Wine. I like food a lot, and the Lantern Festival is more for kids.
The Beatles or the Clash? The Clash, definitely.
Olympic hockey men’s Gold or catching a 70lb Salmon? Obviously 70lb Salmon (I am from Germany). I like the Canucks, does that count?
The best thing you have ever tasted? Mom’s bouillabaisse.
Dish you ate most as a child? Rolled Oats.
Ingredients you did not like as a child that you love now? Appropriately for where we live, fish and mushrooms.
The food in Tofino you most crave after working long days? Gary’s Salt and Pepper Squid or SoBo’s Thai Chicken Roti.
The reason you opened West Pacific Seafood and the Fish Store? My Dad had a trout farm as a hobby when we were growing up. He would also go to Ireland and catch Irish Salmon so we were smoking both all the time. I also smoked fish at the lodge that he bought in Canada which is the whole reason I am here. It is something that I am very familiar with and take a lot of pride in.
Favourite thing to put on the BBQ? Steak tenderloin.
Earliest food memory? The awful smell of mom frying pig’s kidney.
The ocean animal that you enjoy eating most? Dungy’s (Dungeness Crab), steamed. They do not even need butter.
Your favourite country for food? Thailand, with Germany second.
What you wish more people thought about when they eat? I want more people to consider eating less shit out of a can and truly indulge in what we have here on the west coast.
The weirdest food you have ever eaten? Actually, once I ate a live goldfish on a dare. Is that weird enough?