The Velvet Restaurant and Lounge is pleased to announce new culinary leadership and direction, with two industry powerhouses joining the team. Located in The Josie Hotel – the Kootenay Rockies’ luxury ski-in, ski-out/bike-in, bike-out resort – the restaurant is well on the way to elevating Rossland’s reputation as a must-visit culinary destination.
Leading the Velvet team is executive chef Derek Bendig, joined by restaurant manager Geoff Weddell, whose culinary pedigrees were shaped in Whistler, France and other global food hubs. Together, these industry leaders have ushered the Velvet into legacy territory: the restaurant is one of few in Canada where the executive chef, restaurant manager and bar manager all hold diplomas in wine studies.
Formerly the executive sous chef at Fairmont Chateau Whistler, Derek oversaw the hotel’s extensive restaurant operations, including The Wildflower Restaurant, Portobello, The Mallard Lounge, The Chalet, and The Grill Room – Whistler’s only AAA Four-Diamond rated hotel eatery. Derek has amassed decades of culinary experience, having worked at Pangaea Restaurant in Toronto, Siwash Lake Ranch in the Thompson Okanagan, and Maison Pic Hotel in Valence, France. He also served as a chef instructor at George Brown College, shaping future generations of culinary professionals.
Derek looks forward to building a regionally-led menu at the Velvet, featuring ingredients sourced by growers and farmers in the Kootenays. “Nature and my immediate environment have truly inspired what I feature on the plate, whether I’m in downtown Toronto or northern BC,” says Derek. “I can’t wait to forage in the area, connect with local farms, and see and taste the Kootenay produce – and then channel my findings into a fantastic plate of food.”
Most recently the general manager and sommelier at Quattro in Whistler, Geoff has spent over 20 years in various culinary leadership roles at hotel restaurants and fine dining establishments. He also holds an International Sommelier Guild’s diploma.
“I look forward to creating a culture of food and wine where guests can take the time to truly enjoy themselves and connect over a memorable meal,” says Geoff. “Our guest experience is built on the excitement and enthusiasm we see daily at RED Mountain, and we have plans to really amp it up.”
Together, the Velvet’s culinary leadership team will spotlight Rossland and BC’s cornucopia of ingredients, with a strong education and mentoring focus that aims to cultivate a bar-setting food service team at the property.
“We’re flipping the script of what it means to work in a kitchen by creating a platform for training and developing the next great culinary generation,” says Billy Kawaja, director of food and beverage at The Josie Hotel. “It’s integral to create a nurturing environment to deliver the exceptional service our guests expect. We begin with a knowledge-based approach, so our team members truly understand the ingredients: how they’re grown, what they can become and the process we take to deliver them to the table. It’s exciting to have seasoned professionals like Derek and Geoff join our team, so we can inspire and support staff while sharing the incredible bounty of our region with guests.”