My career in the hospitality industry began in 1988 when I flew from New Brunswick to Alberta for a summer job as a Kitchen Attendant in a large resort in Jasper. It was there that I first experienced the chaotic energy of the food industry. I was hooked. From then on, I continued to work as a busboy, cocktail waiter, front desk clerk, bartender, fine dining server, and bar manager learning the art of service. It was during that time I met my future wife, Wendy Lyn.
On a visit back to NB, Wendy and I found a charming old historic house for sale in Shediac, NB, a beautiful seaside community. We thought it would make a cool restaurant. We headed back to Jasper, quit our jobs, packed up our stuff, and drove across the country to start our own business. It was a fantastic partnership from the beginning. We worked together for a year turning this house built in 1890 in to a successful casual fine dining restaurant called The Green House on Main. That's when I became a Chef and took over the reigns running the kitchen. Wendy would manage the "front of the house" and everything else. This is where the value of a great partnership came in to play. It was a lot of hard work. Anyone who thinks owning a restaurant is easy has obviously never owned a restaurant. We worked up to 16 hours a day. This was our baby. We grew it in to a 100-seat restaurant. We took pride in our clean, friendly and charming business. We served up Atlantic lobster, scallops, salmon, mussels, and whatever Wendy might have bought at the fishmonger that day. It was a great experience building lasting relationships with our awesome staff and loyal customers.
In 2010, we sold our beloved restaurant and packed up and move back to Jasper. That summer we toured around BC looking for our next opportunity. Wendy and I both knew the moment we drove in to Fernie that this was the place for us. I always liked making desserts for the restaurant and Happy Cow Ice Cream grew from that passion. I love making ice cream. It's part science, part creative art.
One of the great things about having a business in Fernie is that many people here appreciate the fact that we are hand crafting an edible artisan product. I enjoy taking basic ingredients (milk, cream, eggs, and sugar) and churning them in to tasty palate pleasers. The best part is being able to see people enjoying our ice cream. We love it when you spoon us. Ice cream does not discriminate. It has been an absolute pleasure building relationships with all of our wonderful ice cream-eating customers of all ages and working together with fellow business owners here in the valley. We will continue to Keep Rocking in the Freeze World.
I love watching Chopped Canada on the Food Network. It's a fantastic food competition. Four Chefs, four mystery ingredients, and one timer... GO! One night watching the show I thought, "I can do this." I had never been in any sort of culinary competition and thought it was a great way to challenge myself. And who couldn't use the $10,000 prize? The process of applying, being interviewed by phone, then on camera, then being accepted to compete on the show has been one of the most exciting experiences of my culinary career. It was surreal being on set in the Chopped Canada kitchen standing in front of the judges with all the lights and cameras. I tried to soak up every minute of it. Opportunities like this don't come around often. It's been a great experience taking myself out of my comfort zone to compete on a national stage.
Fernie is such a wonderful place to live and operate a business. I am truly thankful for the friendships and relationships I've made since moving here. I consider myself very fortunate to have such a wonderful wife and business partner to enjoy this life journey with as well.
This note is compliments of your friendly neighbourhood ice cream man.
Tune in to Chopped Canada March 5, 2016 to see Dan in action!