Personal caterer Alice Savage's connection to the west coast reaches all the way back to 1926, though she is a transplant from the U.K. herself.
Along with her passion for cooking she also loves genealogy, which led her to finding the grave markers of her great, great grandfather and a great aunt in Burnaby.
"My grandmother used to live in Vancouver back in the early 20th century and that was my link," says Savage with the Stawamus Chief visible through the massive south-facing windows of the Squamish Adventure Centre café where we meet to chat.
She's even taken her kids to see the graves of her long-lost relatives.
Like many in the Sea to Sky, Savage landed here in a rather roundabout way, at the age of 24.
In 1999, while in Mexico, she met a couple from Whistler and they captivated her with tales of how Whistler residents ski and golf in the same day.
"I decided to emigrate here and give it a go," she says.
Armed with her degree in hotel and restaurant management from Nottingham Trent University, she worked in the kitchen at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler in her early days in the resort, then to round out her experience switched over to working front-of-the house at the hotel. Even when Savage wasn't working in the kitchen she always felt a pull in that direction.
Many years later and now with a pair of children she's based in Squamish, back doing what she loves most, in the place she loves, with clients from Vancouver to Whistler.
"I just want to help them have healthier choices rather than eating out at restaurants," says Savage of her clients, who she serves in a number of ways.
She prepares freezer meals in client homes while they are at work and school, so they come home to healthy, home-cooked meals filled with organic food sourced as close to home as Savage can find it.
Her more interesting work comes in the form of meal preparation for Whistler visitors who want home cooked meals, or simply can't eat at the restaurants in the resort, like a group of 19 from Seattle she cooked for recently in Whistler for a family reunion.
"They rented three condos right next to each other," says Savage.
She made buffet dinners for the group five out of the 10 nights in Whistler.
"One of the parents had five kids and two of them were two (years of age)," recalls Savage. "Going out to a restaurant with 19 people multiple nights just isn't very easy."
They loved the meals Savage prepared.
"They wanted a theme every night so I did an Asian night and a barbecue night. It was really fun," says Savage.
Gigs like that put her in direct contact with her clients and she prefers that setting to working alone preparing freezer meals.
"I love to chat, I like that communication and socialization with my clients when I do that kind of work," says Savage. "That's what I'm going for in Whistler."
Recently, she cooked at her first bachelor party.
"They were business guys from New Jersey and they were such fun," she says.
"They were Indian and they wanted an Indian take on stuff, so I did a halibut dish with Indian spices and with some mussels.
"I love trying new things and I just want to try things all the time and learn about every kind of food that's on the planet."
That was her first bachelor party but she says she's done a number of bachelorette parties in the past.
December is busy for Savage and she's already committed to cooking at a New Year's party in Whistler as well.
When Savage isn't cooking and spending time with her family, she's studying at the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition in Kitsilano to become a Registered Natural Nutritionist. In the future she sees herself teaching people how to nourish their bodies effectively. Sharing her knowledge and showing other people the skills she uses every day fits nicely with her values and what drives her to press ahead with her personal-chef business.
"I want people to have better health," she says simply.
Roasted Yam Salad with sesame, lime dressing
This salad is great for lunches as it is high in complex carbs — it keeps you and your mind working well!
1 large yam cut into bite size chunks
Cracked black pepper
1 sliced small red pepper
1 sliced small green pepper
2 ribs of celery
1 large leaf of kale thinly sliced
A handful fresh cilantro
Red chilies to taste
Black sesame seeds
1 large clove of garlic
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 lime juiced and zested splash of apple
2 tbsp gluten-free tamari
1tbsp honey or maple syrup
Toss yam chunks in avocado oil along with Himalayan salt and cracked black pepper. Roast at 375 degrees for around 20 minutes. After roasting the yams let them come to room temperature before adding the raw vegetables and dressing. Toss and enjoy! (Find more recipes at www.alicesavage.com)