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Foodlovers in the fields



If you've ever ventured onto the fields of North Arm Farm, you already know it's one of the best places to go to stock up on local produce or sate a sweet tooth. Their cold room is fully stocked with the freshest of everyday items - carrots and beets - to more obscure foods, like crosnes. Plus, the freshest of pies and butter tarts also line their shelves.

But this summer, the farm is being transformed into something of a culinary destination, thanks, in part, to the help of two newcomers to the community.

Jenna Dashney and Maxim Ridorossi are both distinguished culinary talents in their own rights. Dashney is a reputable pastry chef with over 20 years of experience in the industry and Ridorossi is an executive chef who has already captured top honours at the inaugural Whistler Chef Challenge.

The busy couple has decided to slow down their individual business pursuits - namely their respective consulting companies - and dive headfirst into a brand-new joint business venture: the Foodlovers Cooking Co.

"It's the closest we'll ever come to getting married," Dashney said with a laugh.

They just moved to the region last fall, falling in love with the diverse options of culture and nature on offer. During the winter months they launched an underground supper club, preparing eight-course meals using seasonal and organic ingredients paired with wines, all for a suggested donation. It was a huge success.

"We're very individualistic people... but then hosting those things gave us a real taste for working together, because both of our skills complement each other really well," Dashney explained. "He's such an excellent chef that it allows me to focus on pastry and the hostessing aspects of the dinner."

The pair very recently entered into an exciting new partnership with the owners of North Arm Farm, the Sturdys, after Ridorossi answered an ad seeking someone to handle catering from the farm. He quickly realized they could also use some help managing the store, especially during the busy summer and fall months, and the Foodlovers stepped in to help cultivate a unique culinary experience right on the farm.

Now, they plan to work with the Sturdys to operate the North Arm Farm Store this summer, enhancing the current operation by bringing in house made charcuterie - a hormone-free, nitrate-free, organic selection, of course - fresh B.C. cheeses from Les Amis du Fromage, plus Tiger Blue and other cheeses from Salt Spring, and coffee from Pemberton Valley Roasters. They'll also offer up cooking classes, catered events and their Sea to Sky Supperclub upon reservation.