Jen has always had a passion for the food and beverage/tourism industry and has completed various diplomas/studies within this realm. After completing the chefs training program and finishing as the top student in her class Jen completed a practicum under multiple gold medal winning Chef Ernst Dorfler and his culinary team at the Pan Pacific Hotel (she was also offered a practicum at the Vancouver Four Seasons Hotel but passed due to union grievances at the time). After working at restaurants, golf courses and hotels, Jen started her first business- a cookie company. Jen’s cookies were shipped across Canada and the United States and featured in coffee shops daily. After one of her largest orders-Valentines cookies to a law firm in New York- were held at the border for just a little too long (they did however make it to a very happy client) Jen decided to expand to a full service catering business.
Jen’s passion for the hotel industry encouraged her to complete a diploma in Hotel/Resort management and Supervisory Tourism Development. She completed this diploma with honors standing and secured a position at The Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel. During her time in the Rockies Jen also successfully owned and operated a catering business cooking for parties of 2-300. Her clients included CEO’s of Microsoft, pharmaceutical companies, NHL players, children of Canada’s Premiers as well as weddings, tour groups and parties for both plated and buffet style dinners.
In 2007 Jen successfully completed 2 levels of the Wine and Spirit Education Trust at the Art Institute in Vancouver. Working as a wine specialist at The Sutton Place Hotel allowed Jen to improve her palate daily and increase her wine knowledge through wine makers and continuous tastings of local and international wines. Through working in this position Jen had the pleasure of helping clients select and pair wines for personal and special occasions. Clients included countless celebrities and so many wonderful Vancouverites looking for that special bottle. At the top of Jen’s celebrity encounters Ryan Reynolds and Hayden Panettiere proved to be some of the loveliest people out there. Fun facts: largest volume sale-cases upon cases for the “Twilight” wrap party, most expensive bottle in the store at the time-$13,000 Mouton Rothschild gold painted bottle of Bordeaux, funniest customer experience-upon learning staff were not permitted to buy it musician Prevail(Swollen Members) purchased Jen a bottle of the Blue Mountain Pinot Blanc-awesome! Favourite food/wine gig- Jen & her accomplice organized a series of four dinner parties for the creator of the X-Files (Chris Carter) and friends.
During the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver Jen was a part of the team cooking on The Russian Tall Ship-definitely her craziest experience- The galleys, ladders and language barrier proved to be a great challenge as well as an unforgettable experience.
Opening The Nest Bistro in Nanaimo has been a super experience and we are grateful for all of the wonderful customers here and across the globe who have allowed us to continue to do what we love.
Nic took on his first kitchen position in 1988, which was to help fund his music education, but soon found himself fascinated with the world of cooks and chefs. His chef was a graduate of the prestigious Culinary Institute of America and took the time to mentor Nic. It was a formative influence Nic has never forgotten.
Nic trained to be a professional musician and toured forty eight of the fifty U.S. states with the renowned Vancouver Wind Trio, also serving as guest principal oboist with the Vancouver Symphony, CBC Radio Orchestra, Symphonia of the North Shore, Vancouver Opera and as guest musician with the Victoria Symphony. Nic was a founding member of the Ad Mare woodwind quintet, which was active in the Vancouver area and broadcast on CBC radio two. All the while, however, Nic also worked positions cooking to support his income and to broaden his culinary experience.
By the time Nic retired from active duty as an oboist, he had worked in the kitchens of ten different restaurants as well, under several chefs of distinguished pedigree, always eager to glean any and every bit of knowledge available. After earning his Canadian Red Seal trades designation, more positions of responsibility opened for Nic in some of Vancouver’s busiest restaurants. He also worked at the Vancouver Convention and Exhibition Centre, serving thousands of people at a time. After serving as a sous chef for two and a half years, eventually Nic served as executive chef and pastry chef for two years at a boutique hotel, building custom cakes and pastries, doing banquet catering and off-site events and chef’s tables.
Notable highlights of Nic’s culinary career include cooking for two B.C. premiers, being a finalist in the Vancouver Community College Apprentice of the Year Competition, semifinalist in the City TV Master Chef of the Pacific Northwest Black Box Competition and catering a banquet for Constantine, King of Greece.
Nic’s predecessors at the hotel were great mentors. Nic is gratefully indebted to Chef Pascal Dagorne, whose Michelin star restaurant skill set and entrepreneurial spirit was highly inspirational, as well as Rajeev Arora (now executive chef of the Mumbai Hilton), who taught Nic how to use spices and techniques from India to deepen flavours and aromas.
When Jen joined the hotel team, the two chefs, working easily and efficiently together, quickly realized a tremendous partnership was developing between them, and they joined up in life and in business, taking advantage of their amazing synergy. Now they are the husband and wife team behind Nanaimo’s Nest Bistro.