If there’s one word to describe the team behind the amazing food at Tapestry at Arbutus Walk, it’s passion.
The culinary team is led by Chef Valentino Pereira, who at only 43 years old has a long list of accomplishments from his 23 years as a chef including:
- Winner of the Food Network’s Chopped Canada competition in 2016
- Chef de Cuisine at the University of British Columbia
- Executive Chef at several hotels, including Vancouver’s Sylvia Hotel
- Trained under internationally recognized chefs in Michelin Star restaurants in London and Dorset, England.
Chef Valentino’s biggest passion is working with his employees to improve their skills and deliver ever improving dining experiences to the residents at Arbutus Walk. His culinary team of 16 people includes Sous Chef Chuck So, first cooks, cooks and dishwashers, and together they service breakfast, lunch and dinner, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
“I try to bring out the best in everyone by motivating them and providing them with growth opportunities,” Chef Valentino says.
Case in point is Cedric Stewart, a dishwasher who joined the team almost seven years ago after training in culinary arts at Vancouver Community College. Cedric is keen to push his skills to the next level, so Chef Valentino has been working with him to increase his knowledge of key basics. Chef has also taught Cedric to make pita bread and focaccia bread, expanding the variety of choices for residents.
“The way people treat me here is motivating,” says Cedric. “Most kitchens you are pretty much on your own, but here everyone is looking out for each other. That’s the example that Chef Valentino has set.”
Sous Chef Chuck So has also benefited from learning and development in the Tapestry kitchen. He’s worked at Arbutus Walk for 10 years, and during that time he achieved his Red Seal certification and worked his way up to his current Sous Chef (or second in charge) position. (Red Seal is a National certification for chefs and a sign of alignment to interprovincial professional standards.)
All three employees talk about the great work environment at Arbutus Walk. Chef Valentino says he enjoys the work-life balance, which allows him to spend more time with his wife and five-year-old daughter.
Chuck says his work community is like a second family. “The people I work with, the residents, my other co-workers; we form a community, and we try to uplift each other. I see working here as a privilege,” he says.
“The restaurant industry has been quite volatile the past few years, but at Tapestry we’ve had minimal turnover – our employees are really appreciated here, and training and learning is encouraged,” Chuck adds.
The residents appreciate the culinary team, too. Tom, who has lived at Arbutus Walk with his wife Anne for four years, is celiac, meaning he cannot eat gluten, which is found in many foods, but most notably in wheat. When he mentioned to Chef Valentino that he missed eating bread with dinner, Chef and Cedric together made Pao de Queijo, a delicious gluten free Brazilian cheese bread made with tapioca flour.
Tom is on the resident advisory committee that provides regular feedback to Arbutus Walk employees, including the kitchen staff. “They do so many things to keep us happy and engage us. Chef Valentino takes his job very seriously. I give him five stars!” he says.
On top of daily meals, the culinary team also works with the Wellness team to offer special meals and treats for cultural and other events such as Lunar New Year, Robbie Burns Day, St. Patrick’s Day and Oktoberfest. Chuck’s wife and his son, 11, and daughter, 6, often join him to help offer cooking workshops for residents. Past workshops have included Greek salad with watermelon smoothies, and cranberry tarts with mulled cider.
Vancouver’s Annual Hot Chocolate Festival was marked with a special offering created by Chuck that included various drink toppings, pastries and chocolate-dipped strawberries.
Enjoyable and nutritious meals are part of Tapestry’s 7 Dimensions of Wellness and give residents the energy they need to continue to be active. Residents have fully equipped kitchens and are encouraged to cook for themselves, but, Chuck says, “We’re here when they don’t feel like cooking.”
If you are considering a move to independent retirement living, please contact us. We would be pleased to host you for lunch and a tour and introduce you to the community’s amazing Tapestry employees who work together to deliver an unparalleled experience for our residents every day.
If the culinary team’s story has inspired you to explore joining the Tapestry team, please visit our Careers page for a complete list of job postings.