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Nourish: Hayley Rosenberg

24 Jan
Hayley Rosenberg (centre) with her team at Nourish Garden Bistro// Photo by Megan Cole

Hayley Rosenberg (centre) with her team at Nourish Garden Bistro// Photo by Megan Cole

For most people their earliest food memories are wrapped around comfort food prepared and served with love by grandma or mom.

But even though the creamy mac and cheese or chicken pot pie may have been mouth wateringly delicious, they weren’t necessarily healthy (something more diners are looking for in their meals.)

While more of us are looking for more in our meals and dealing with various food sensitivities, the words “quinoa porridge” or “vegan cashew hollandaise” might put fear in people’s hearts.

“We deal with a lot of people who come in here who actually have fear in their eyes,” said owner of Nourish Garden Bistro Hayley Rosenberg. “It’s like we’re actually going to hurt them. Sometimes they look at the menu and they leave. It’s a rare occasion but it happens and I’m OK with it. There are lots of places for people to go eat fast food. I will never serve scones or fast food and that’s just the way that it is.”

Nourish is located on the edge of Saanich’s picturesque Horticultural Centre of the Pacific, and as the rain falls over the gardens around the restaurant, the small but warm dining room and kitchen is a project years in the making for Rosenberg.

“I think the idea for Nourish just started on its own kind of and I just followed its path,” she said.

From Vancouver originally, Rosenberg left to go travelling on her 30th birthday. She travelled around Europe but when she came home she realized she didn’t really want to be there.

Quickly she quit her job, packed her bags and made her way to Victoria.

“I was working at Canoe Brewpub and I didn’t want to eat pub food. When I moved over here I made some promises to myself that I would take better care of my body and my mind,” said Rosenberg.

With the knowledge she’d accumulated from studying holistic nutrition in Vancouver and the homegrown cooking skills she’d learned from her grandmother, she started cooking meals for herself and bringing them to work.

Eventually a couple of her co-workers took notice of the food Rosenberg was making and asked if she would cook for them.

At the same time, fueled by her interest in learning to grow her own fruits and vegetables, she started riding her bike to the Horticultural Centre to learn.

“It kind of came to the point where I had 10 clients that I was cooking for,” said Rosenberg. “I was cooking for them from my home and I quit my job because I couldn’t do both of them. I had the faith that this was something that was happening and I was going to go with it.”

With her business quickly expanding, and growing tired of the smell of onions in her house from cooking all day, Rosenberg began to search for a Vancouver Island Health Authority approved kitchen where she could continue her business.

Nourish's 'Under the Sea' is featured on their breakfast menu and includes an herb poached rock fish with baby potatoes and pea shoots// Photo courtesy of Nourish

Nourish’s ‘Under the Sea’ is featured on their breakfast menu and includes an herb poached rock fish with baby potatoes and pea shoots// Photo courtesy of Nourish

One day while out at the gardens, a VIHA approved sticker on a window caught her eye and she inquired about the small kitchen and dining room on the property.

“I went next door and asked the director if I could use the space to cook for my clients from and rent it out a couple days a week,” she said. “He said it was an option, but what they were really looking for was to have something for their guests when they come here; a space to have some tea and maybe a scone.”

Rosenberg said she could do that, but if she took the helm there would be no scones.

“I want to make sure people are eating healthy,” she said. “We agreed that it would be an opportunity for them here and within a month we agreed and opened up Nourish.”

This is the first year that Nourish has been open year round and Rosenberg has seen the restaurant grow into something she is proud of.

Even though the doors are open at the restaurant from 9 a.m.to 4 p.m., Rosenberg said the hottest item of the menu is their slightly non-traditional benny.

“We could be a benny breakfast place, literally,” she said. “Other than the benny, I wouldn’t say there is anything specifically that stands out. I think people are interested in how we are putting the dishes together. The benny is is probably the least normal dish that we have but it says benny. It has kale and sweet potatoes. The rest is either they see something they want or are curious about. There is no rhyme or reason.”

Nourish is located on Quayle Road at the Horticultural Centre of the Pacific. For more information visit them at nourishinsight.com

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