New chef in charge of hotel kitchens

It seems the community has developed a taste for the Oak Bay Beach Hotel.

Executive chef Ian Rennie has joined the staff at the Oak Bay Beach Hotel.

It seems the community has developed a taste for the Oak Bay Beach Hotel.

Since opening last November, the hotel has been a hive of activity, especially in its café and restaurants.

“We underestimated the overwhelming demand on our food and beverage outlets,” said owner Kevin Walker. “Guests come for the spectacular views and gorgeous surroundings, but they stay and return for the food and hospitality.”

Walker and hotel manager Michelle LeSage recently hired executive chef Iain Rennie to manage the team. He brings with him Josh Houston, his sous chef of more than seven years. The pair started March 1.

“(We) had the opportunity to bring in an executive chef who had the experience to manage a hotel with so many food and beverage options for its guests, while managing a team that can deliver the best possible dining experience,” Walker said.

Since November, more than 20,000 people have visited the Snug pub, where some 11,870 pints have been pulled, said Walker. In hiring Rennie, the hotel is responding to the community’s feedback on areas for improvement, in particular food and beverage leading into the busy spring and summer months.

Raised on Vancouver Island, Rennie honed his culinary skills working in some of the best kitchens in the world, with the brigade at the world-famous Savoy Hotel in London, England, as sous chef at Vancouver’s Pan Pacific hotel, executive sous chef at the Fairmont Empress, then landing the chef’s position with the Fairmont Vancouver Airport Hotel. He held this position for three years, until the opportunity arose for him to take on the executive chef position at the Fairmont Waterfront. During his most recent position as executive chef at the Westin Bear Mountain Golf Resort and Spa, Rennie oversaw the rebranding of the main dining room to an award-winning, Italian inspired venue.

Rennie has garnered 16 gold medals and five silver medals in world culinary competitions and has often been asked to judge various culinary competitions in Canada. He is also a mentor, working with students at the Culinary Institute of Vancouver Island and Camosun College on a monthly basis, sharing his passion for cooking with aspiring chefs.

Currently Kate’s Café, the Snug pub, the dining room, David Foster Foundation Theatre, and room and catering services are offered at the hotel. Following a review of all of the hotel’s menus and food preparation, the launch of the Oak Bay Beach Hotel’s afternoon tea service will be one of Rennie’s first priorities. The sun decks for both Kate’s Café and the Snug pub, along with a rooftop bistro on the hotel’s widow’s walk, and Boathouse Spa patio will open in time for what is anticipated to be a busy summer season.