Chef Shannon Oxley is our go-to gal in all of our catering operations – wherever Truffles goes, chances are she’ll be there! Each day, she oversees all the food preparations for our VanDusen location, then delves into whatever catering ventures come up – everything from BBQs and weddings to phone orders and plated platters. That’s what she loves most about the job: every day is different. “We’re always busy,” she says happily. “There’s never a time when we’re looking for things to do or watching the clock. We’ve always got new clients to cater, and our menus are never the same – we carefully tailor them to suit each individual, so they’re always tweaked to accommodate any dietary restrictions and preferences. It definitely keeps us on our toes and pushes us to greater performance!”
For many of us, that type of environment would seem stressful, if not completely overwhelming. But not for Shannon! In her ninth year of working in the food industry, she still revels at every chance to experiment and grow as a chef. “I love having free range to get inventive and play with the menus till they’re just right. It’s great to work in an environment where the people are fun and creativity is encouraged.”
Needless to say, Shannon fits in perfectly here at Truffles. Originally from Nova Scotia, her family moved to a farm in Port Hope, Ontario; since then, home-grown food has been part of her nature. Throughout her childhood, she and her sisters would host family events and fancy tea parties for the British neighbours. Later, she sought further adventure after high school, and landed a job at a golf course restaurant in Invermere. She then dedicated four and a half years to honing her skills at Stella’s (now known as BierCraft) before exploring a diverse array of other venues, including a butcher shop, various bars, and the Waldorf Hotel. She graduated from the Art Institute of Vancouver’s Culinary Program in 2011, and eagerly anticipates earning her Red Seal as she apprentices under Chef Reto here at Truffles.
“Learning on the fly, hands-on in the industry has definitely been the best way for me to grow,” she reflects. “For anyone who’s interested in pursuing a career in culinary arts, I would highly recommend they start right in the kitchen, on the job, and gain experience before investing in a formal education program. That’s the best way to find out if it’s truly where your heart lies.”
And there can be no doubt as to where Shannon’s lies! Even after a hard day’s work of catering with Truffles, she loves cooking real comfort food at home. “Mac and cheese is my favourite thing to make on our menu,” she says, “because I love cheese and cream. But at home, it’s meat on the BBQ, shepherd’s pie, roast chicken – and mussels, my absolute favourite!” Outside the kitchen, Shannon’s a real outdoor adventurist: you might see her hunting or fishing around the outskirts of Squamish, or hiking one of our many beautiful local mountains. She also nurtures an appreciation for the diverse arts and culture alive in the city, something she never experienced much in the small towns of her youth.
One day she hopes to work on the larger film industry trucks, catering to cast and crew on a full-time basis. Owning her own restaurant doesn’t hold her appeal, but she would consider operating a food truck that could “move with the business”. In a perfect world, however, she would reconnect with her roots and live on a self-sufficient farm, growing her own fresh produce and raising chickens and cows to her heart’s content.