My Husband, Keith, and I had been working in the Hotel & Resort industry for over 22 years when we attended a wedding in Gold River. I remember being overwhelmed by the magnificence of the mountains, rivers, and trees as we drove along Highway 28 through Strathcona Park. It only took 30 minutes, after arriving in town, before we both said, “This is the place to open our very own restaurant.” This was the kind of challenge that we were ready to take on.
Our dream was to join a community and put down roots. After working in four different provinces, in various resorts and venues, we heard from a family member that a cafe was for sale in Gold River. We knew this was our opportunity. The property was unbelievably inviting, starting with a patio that offered picturesque views of the mountains and that followed with the calming sound of the river.
The decision was made, but we still had a few hurdles to overcome. Besides starting a new business during COVID — in a remote community of 1300 people — we still had to find a team to work with us in such a rural area. We were surprised when Jessica Blanchard, a co-worker and friend, said she would come with us. Then when we arrived, we met a young up-and-coming culinary enthusiast, Shaylene Gjesdal, who was excited to work under a chef with CCC credentials. We also had Riley Last join our front-of-house team. Both Shaylene and Riley were born and raised here in Gold River. Originally, our goal was to have 80 per cent of the menu be locally sourced products, it looks like that goal applied to our staffing too.
Our next challenge was the name and concept. Surrounded by water and the forest, the name Sea & Field Bistro just made sense. We both knew that we did not want deep fryers in our life anymore and that we wanted to serve traditional, fresh options with an inspired twist. Keith, our Chef, adapted many of his original recipes to suit what is available locally. The chowder now includes candied west coast salmon, the mussels are from Salt Spring Island, and we serve artisan cheese from Little Qualicum Cheese works.
Because of all it has to offer— mountain climbing, kayaking, hiking and camping— many visitors pass through our village. With this active tourism sector, we found a large demand for grab-and-go items like hearty homemade sandwiches, salads, and desserts. We adapted our menu to address the need for these items and also to provide a refuge for everyone who recreates here or calls this place home.
Even with the challenges preceding us, with our experience, and the strong support that we have received from the Gold River community, we know this endeavor will succeed. Here in this small bistro, nestled amongst the mountains, lush rainforest, and clear, cold ocean, we have found our home and we’re here to stay.