I was very lucky to grow up in the Canadian Rockies. We had a life of skiing, camping and hiking. Most of our friends were Chefs and Restaurant owners from Germany, Switzerland and Italy. My parents loved to entertain. From a very young age I was surrounded by delicious food and great wine. I always knew I wanted to be a Chef but it wouldn’t happen right away. My first summer job was as a cabin girl at Shadow Lake Lodge, where guests and staff had to hike or bike 16 km from the road to the cabins. No running water or electricity so I learned to cook in very primitive conditions. I worked at the Fairmont Banff Springs for three years in a retail gourmet kitchen shop with a demo kitchen. I also worked as a server at St. James’s Gate Irish Pub for three years. I then moved to London, England for two years and worked in a Gypsy Jazz Bar dedicated to Django Reinhardt. I was a cook, server and bartender and absolutely loved it. Lots of late nights filled with Gypsy Swing Guitar – I was hooked! I went to France twice for the Gypsy Jazz Festival with side trips to the Loire. I also backpacked around Europe with a friend for several months. At this point, my passion was for food, wine, music and travel (and still is.) I returned home to Banff and knew I had to do something more - I was ready to become a Chef!
I moved to Nanaimo in 2007 and enrolled in the Culinary Arts Program at Vancouver Island University. The program was amazing and I learned so much from the Instructors. I graduated with honors and a Gold Medal in 2008. It was then off to Hastings House Country Hotel, a Relais and Chateau on Salt Spring Island for a three-year apprenticeship under Swiss Chef Marcel Kauer. This is where my love of cooking with local fish, meat, fruits and vegetables began. We had our own garden and picked our produce fresh every day. The Island farmers would come to the back door with the seasons’ bounty including fresh caught Dungeness crab which I cooked and picked to be turned into delicious Crab Cakes and Crab Bisque.
I moved back to Nanaimo in 2011 and challenged the Provincial Red Seal exam. I passed on the first attempt. I then started working at the Bistro at Westwood Lake as the Sous Chef. I became the Chef in 2014. In the summer of 2015 the Bistro was featured in Forbes Travel Magazine as one of six top restaurants to eat at on Vancouver Island. I took a sabbatical from cooking in October 2015. I spent a month in Hawaii in January and three months this summer in Europe. I visited 12 countries and had the time of my life. I spent a week in Tuscany, staying at Agriturismos at two different wineries (Which we have on our amazing Wine List!) I rented a car and drove the whole coastline of Croatia. I also spent four weeks in the south of Germany on the Swiss border with my best friend who recently had a baby. It was the greatest experience I have ever had - a much needed break from the kitchen but I missed cooking. I am now back in Nanaimo and very excited for my next venture, opening a new restaurant called ‘Christina’s on the Lake.’ It is located on beautiful Westwood Lake at the Westwood Tennis Club. Our grand opening was on November 1, 2016. The Dining Room has a fresh and bright new look with a warm and welcoming atmosphere. The Menu is old favorites and new - always based around what is fresh and in season. We are proud to use the following local businesses - Nanaimo Bakery, Nesvog Meats, Seadrift Fish Market, St. Jean's Cannery, Karma Coffee, Meat Craft, D Original Sausage (Vancouver) and many more!
Our family looks forward to seeing you! - Cheryl, Nigel and Christina