One of Tapestry’s key differentiating features as an active aging community for independent adults is its commitment to delivering an exceptional culinary experience. We do this by hiring professional Red Seal chefs who bring their passion and creativity to create delicious and nutritious offerings in our Restaurants and Pubs.
Cameron Ballendine is the new Executive Chef at Tapestry at Victoria Harbour, which opened in February 2021. Cameron, who has worked all over the world, has assembled a talented team that is not only creating the community’s delectable menu options, but also serving our residents to create a powerful intimacy between the kitchen and diners.
We had an opportunity to connect with Executive Chef Cameron to discuss his passion for food and how he finds inspiration both in and out of the kitchen.
Tell me about your earliest memory of working with food. What inspired you to become a chef?
My passion for food really flourished in junior high, which was my first real exposure to an industrial kitchen environment. From then onwards, I was hooked. I watched the older students in the kitchen creating all these different meals at the same time and I was fascinated at the flow of the kitchen.
Your career has taken you around the world. Could you describe that experience?
I have been very fortunate to have a career that has given me the opportunity to work in many exciting countries such as China, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, France and Singapore. The exposure to different cultures and cuisines has really helped broaden and strengthen my cooking repertoire. It has also given me the chance to learn from some very talented chefs from across the globe.
As you were creating the initial menu for Tapestry at Victoria Harbour, what inspired you?
Several key factors come into play when creating a menu for a Tapestry community. Creating an authentically local dining experience by using sustainable and fresh ingredients from our immediate area is crucial. You will see that reflected in our initial menu, which features lovely in season seafood and vegetables, with a definite Asian influence to make it unique and especially flavourful. I do feel creating fresh, exciting, flavourful food that makes our residents proud of their community is of huge importance in my role as Executive Chef.
Tapestry has a committed focus to the 7 Dimensions of Wellness. How has this influenced your menu and restaurant experience?
Tapestry’s 7 Dimensions of Wellness play a pivotal role in how I plan our residents’ food and beverage experiences. We have to consider not only what tastes great, but how we balance nutritional considerations to support our approach to healthy and active living. It often means being more creative, adapting recipes and using unique ingredients to create exceptional offerings. I love partnering with residents to develop options that satisfy their appetites and lifestyle!
How do you hope to inspire residents from a culinary perspective?
I hope I inspire residents to give food you may not have ordinarily enjoyed a second chance! Most times, I have found it’s a dislike for the preparation, as opposed to the food itself. I encourage our residents to broaden their views on food and open themselves up to try and experiment new foods and preparations. I am proud to say I have converted many non-believers of brussels sprouts into avid fans!
What has been one of your favourite things about opening a new Restaurant?
For me, by far, the most amazing part of opening a new Tapestry community has been the opportunity to create new relationships with our residents. The life stories and experiences we all get to share with each other is very rewarding and our residents relish the opportunity to share about grandchildren and family alike. Encouraging my fellow employees to openly engage with our residents is fulfilling and creates a comfortable and inspiring environment throughout our community.
Tell us about a current menu item at Tapestry that excites you. Would you like to share a recipe?
The menu items that excite me the most are the ones that create a memory for our residents. These items do not have to be complicated by any means; they simply need to be well prepared, fresh, healthy and consistent quality food items. I have included a recipe for our extremely popular minestrone soup, which utilizes many locally grown vegetables from the Saanich Peninsula.