|André Cadieux, Zuzana Riha, Brendan Phelps, Tom Patry, and Lisa Patry, owners and head chef at the Woolsey. (Submitted)|
Special to the Review
It started at a Grizzlies game this winter when Tom Patry and André Cadieux, season ticket holders and minor hockey coaches, started chatting.
“What are you up to these days?” Patry, Revelstoke’s Grizzly Auto owner, asked Cadieux.
“Not much at the moment,” answered Cadieux, former maintenance manager for the Best Western and with extensive experience in the fine-dining industry.
“What are you going to be up to?” was Patry’s next question.
“I’ll be managing something for someone,” replied Cadieux.
Three weeks later, the opportunity to buy the Woolsey Creek Bistro arose and Patry asked Cadieux and his partner Zuzana Riha if they were interested in a joint venture with him and his wife, Lisa.
For artist and Parks Canada employee Riha, the new endeavour has meant playing on the inland temperate rainforest location of the actual Woolsey Creek.
“It’s at the eastern border of Mount Revelstoke National Park and we wanted to bring that essence indoors, both for our international visitors and to remind our locals what a beautiful place we live in,” she said.
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The refresh includes extended booths topped with birch branches intertwined with sparkling lights. The service counter is now enclosed to incorporate the vast wine selection and a cozy table for two has been added near the door. The bar is also now more accessible, with seating for six and the washrooms have been updated to reflect the main space.
Riha is the artistic engineer and Cadieux, as predicted, is the general manager, using his skills from high-end restaurants in Whistler and elsewhere.
Lisa Patry takes care of payroll and bookkeeping and Tom Patry is the facilitator, motivator, and fixer. “We call Tom and say such-and-such is broken, and he zips over from the garage and fixes it,” laughs Riha.
Riha’s striking acrylics of local fauna grace the walls, and flora adorns the tables. The large patio with a view of Mounts Begbie and Macpherson is bordered by flower and herb gardens, which head chef Brendan Phelps gathers ingredients from and feeds with the restaurant’s compost.
Phelps has worked at the Woolsey on and off since 2012 and returned as head chef in January of this year. His cooking history includes a two-year course at NAIT in Edmonton and a stint in London, England at a Michelin-starred restaurant.
“I often worked from 7:30 a.m. to midnight in London, plus a one-hour commute both ways,” said Phelps. “There wasn’t much work-life balance, but I learned about planning, precision, timing and focus – aspects of a restaurant that aren’t just about service.”
Phelps was granted almost full control of the menu for the refresh, which allowed him to be more creative with the dishes.
“I’ve been cooking since I was 12 and I like making people happy with the food I make,” he said. “My favourite item on the menu is the Berkshire pork. It’s happy meat. Some people think a pork chop’s a pork chop. This is different.”
|Blueberry cheesecake. (Submitted)|
“As good as our food is, we also want to be known for our wines,” said Cadieux. “We have the best B.C. wine list between Banff and Kelowna.”
Riha said it also has the only sommelier in Revelstoke.
“(Sommelier) Milène (Nantel) can tell you not only about the wine, but about the vineyard’s soil and the grapes’ orientation,” she said.
Riha wants locals to rediscover the Woolsey.
“People have been saying to us, ‘oh yes, we used to go there,’ or ‘that was our favourite date-night place,’” she said. “We’re not just for a full meal. Come in for appetizers or dessert.”