To know Tofino is to know SoBo, the restaurant at the heart of this magnetic West Coast surf town. Since opening as a purple food truck 20 years ago, SoBo (short for “sophisticated bohemian”) has been bringing people together with Chef Lisa Ahier’s fresh West Coast fare.
Year after year, locals and visitors alike return for her killer cooking and the relaxed warmth that can only be found here. Bring home this new slice of SoBo to share with your loved ones.
In Together at SoBo, Chef Lisa Ahier shares all-new recipes from her beloved restaurant. Lisa’s recipes are love letters to Tofino and its position as the most westerly point of Canada. Drawing from local produce and a wealth of seafood, these are Pacific Northwest recipes enhanced by Lisa’s Southern flair.
- Local and seasonal: recipes like the Chanterelle and Corn Chowder and the Nettle, Clam and Shrimp Tagliatelle highlight Tofino’s coastal bounty
- Classics inspired by Lisa’s Southern childhood: reminisce with her family’s Summer Ratatouille and Grilled Peach and Raspberry Melba recipes
- Seafood standouts: embrace the ocean with the Chinook Salmon with Parsnip Puffs and the Halibut Cheeks with Celeriac Cream
- Perennial SoBo favourites: try the beloved Roasted Acorn Squash and Kale Pizza and White Bean and Chicken Chili
And, in true, community-driven SoBo spirit, throughout the book, Lisa also introduces the people around her who have shaped the restaurant into the quintessential destination it is today.
Two decades on from its purple food truck beginnings, SoBo has never lost its namesake “sophisticated bohemian” essence: down-to-earth goodness forged through a connection to the people and place—land and sea—surrounding it.
Together at SoBo: More Recipes and Stories from Tofino’s Beloved Restaurant by
Mushroom, Caramelized Onion and Goat Cheese Pizza
One of the great perks of living in British Columbia’s rainforest is the abundance of wild forest mushrooms. Chanterelles, pine, chicken of the woods, porcini . . . I encourage you to experiment with the different varieties and find what best suits you. The key to this pizza is the earthiness of the mushrooms and the sweetness of the caramelized onions. And the acidic nature of the goat cheese really perks it up.
MAKES FOUR 10-INCH PIZZAS
2 Tbsp butter
¼ cup plus 2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
2 onions, thinly sliced
½ lb shiitake mushrooms, destemmed, cleaned and sliced ½ inch thick
2 large portobello mushrooms, cleaned and diced
½ lb cremini mushrooms, cleaned and sliced ½ inch thick
½ tsp salt
Pizza Dough, Tofino Style (see below)
1–2 cups Red Sauce (see below)
1 cup Pumpkin Seed Pesto (see below)
3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup crumbled soft goat cheese
2 cups baby arugula
In a medium heavy-bottomed frying pan over medium-high heat, add the butter and 2 Tbsp of the olive oil. As soon as the butter melts, add the onions and turn the heat to medium-low, stirring the onions frequently to prevent them from burning, until they reach a rich, dark brown, about 20 to 30 minutes. By cooking low and slow, you are creating so much flavour, bringing out the onion’s natural sweetness without any sharp, bitter taste. If the onions start to stick or burn, turn the heat to low and add 1 Tbsp water. Stir too much and the onions won’t brown; stir too little and they burn. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
Heat the remaining ¼ cup olive oil in a separate medium heavy-bottomed frying pan over high heat. As soon as it starts to smoke, add all the mushrooms and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and season with the salt.
Preheat the oven to 450°F.
Form the dough for one pizza at a time on its floured pan, following the method on page 120.
Once you have shaped one piece of dough, immediately spoon ¼ cup red sauce and ¼ cup pesto on top. Use a spatula or the back of the spoon to spread them out evenly. Sprinkle with one-quarter of the onions, ¾ cup mozzarella, one-quarter of the mushrooms, and ¼ cup goat cheese.
Repeat the shaping and topping process with the remaining balls of dough.
Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and the cheese golden.
Remove from the oven and garnish with arugula.
Pizza Dough, Tofino Style
At SoBo, our own Marco Procopio takes an almost spiritual approach to pizza, using an overnight fermentation process. He was born and raised in southern Italy’s Calabria region, where he inherited his love of food—particularly pizza, which he then travelled the world for, spending hours, days and years in search of the perfect recipe. Here in Tofino, he surfs and works and says, “When I know there is a pizza dough fermenting in my house, everything is better—I surf better, I walk happier. The round shape of a pizza symbolizes unity. It brings everyone together in harmony.” He could write a book about his technique if he ever decides to hang up his surfboard.
MAKES FOUR 10-INCH PIZZAS
2 cups lukewarm water (about 110°F, from the tap), plus extra as needed
½ tsp active dry yeast
¼ cup dark beer (I like Hoyne Brewing Co.’s Dark Matter)
3 Tbsp olive oil
3¾ cups 00 flour (see Cook’s Note below)
3¾ cups all-purpose flour, plus extra as needed
1½ Tbsp salt
First mix: In a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, combine the water, yeast, beer, oil and 00 flour and mix for 5 minutes on low speed or until well incorporated. If you don’t have a stand mixer with a dough hook, you can mix the ingredients in a large bowl by hand: Use one hand to mix the dough until it forms a ball and all the dough has pulled away from the sides of the bowl. Transfer to a clean, dry work surface (marble or granite is fabulous) and knead, using the heels of your palm, for about 5 minutes, then stretch and flip. Repeat, until the dough can’t be stretched any more. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes. (Never let your dough get a crust from the air.)
Second mix: Return the dough to the stand mixer or bowl and add the all-purpose flour and salt. Mix for 5 minutes on medium speed. If mixing by hand, it will take about 7 minutes. The dough should form a cohesive ball and pull away cleanly from the sides of the bowl. If it is too wet and sticking to the bowl, add more flour, 1 tsp at a time. If it is too dry and not all the flour is incorporated, add more lukewarm water, 1 tsp at a time, until you have a smooth, shiny dough.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a plate and let rest for 20 minutes.
Divide the dough into four pieces. One at a time, cup each piece of dough in your hand and roll it around in a circle on a clean, dry work surface until you’ve formed a smooth, round ball. Place the dough balls in a large container, spaced about 4 inches apart, to allow them room to expand.
Seal the container tightly with its lid or plastic wrap and let the dough rest at room temperature for 1 hour. Then place in the fridge for at least 24 hours, and up to 72 hours. One hour before shaping and assembling the pizzas, remove the dough from the fridge and let it come to room temperature.
Form the dough: Flour your hands and transfer one ball of dough to a lightly floured work surface. Sprinkle more flour onto the dough and your hands to prevent sticking.
Starting at one side of the ball, press down with your fingertips and gently stretch it with a circular motion until it expands into a disk about 6 to 8 inches in diameter. Continue massaging the dough, shaping it with your palms and fingers until the disk is about 10 inches across.
Don’t worry about making a perfect circle, or making a doughy rim (aka the cornicione); this will naturally form when baking. Just go for a completely flat disk. Whatever you do, don’t overhandle the dough: be gentle with the blisters and bubbles that air will create in the crust; they will add texture and character to your final creation. Remember: no rolling pin!
Flop the dough onto a lightly floured, perforated 14-inch pizza pan (or a regular pizza pan or an inverted baking sheet, if that’s what you have) and gently pull the edges outward, leaving some space so as not to cover the pan completely. I do this so that when transferring to and from the oven, the outer crust remains undisturbed
Assemble and bake: Follow each recipe’s method for assembly and baking instructions, topping your dough immediately with your desired toppings. Timing is critical here! Waiting too long before topping your stretched dough can result in dry dough.
COOK’ S NOTE: in Italy, flour is classified either as 1, 0 or 00, referring to how finely ground the flour is, and how much of the bran and germ have been removed. For instance, 00 flour is the most refined, similar to unbleached all-purpose/plain flour, which is a mix of hard and soft wheat, though somewhat finer. invest in a bag of Tipo 00 flour (aka doppio zero, meaning “double zero” in Italian) and fall in love (a light crust that’s crisp on the outside but tender to the bite? That’s amore). Or try the grand don, the Godflour: the Caputo 00 made from a selection of the finest grains sourced by the Naples- based Caputo family—and have been for three generations.
Pumpkin Seed Pesto
MAKES 4 CUPS
½ cup toasted pumpkin seeds (see below)
¼ cup minced garlic
1 cup fresh basil leaves 1 cup spinach leaves
½ cup arugula or watercress
¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp crushed red chili flakes
1 tsp salt
½ cup olive oil, plus extra as needed
¼ cup grated hard-aged cheese, like Parmesan, pecorino, Asiago or Romano
In a food processor or blender, combine the toasted seeds, garlic, basil, spinach, arugula, lemon juice, chili flakes and salt.
Pulse until the herbs are finely chopped, then, with the food processor running, drizzle in the olive oil and blend to your desired texture (I like it smooth and creamy. If you want a thinner sauce, add a bit more olive oil). Transfer to a bowl and fold in the cheese.
MAKES 4 CUPS
One 28-oz can San Marzano tomatoes or whole plum tomatoes
1 Tbsp salt
¼ cup olive oil
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
¼ cup Roasted Garlic, puréed (page 259)
1 cup fresh basil leaves
¼ cup fresh oregano leaves
In a food processor or a blender, purée all the ingredients to your desired smoothness (I like mine smooth enough to spread really well).
Excerpted from Together at Sobo by Lisa Ahier, with Susan Musgrave. Copyright © 2023 Lisa Elaine Ahier. Photographs by Jeremy Koreski. Published by Appetite by Random House®, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.