December 11, 2020
Comfort Inn chef Maya Fetterly is receiving five-star reviews.
“The food is making a world of difference,” exclaimed a resident.
The Food Service’s Coordinator at the BC Housing-owned hotel and her staff prepare 200 meals daily for residents.
The meals are a welcome addition for the almost 100 clients that call the Comfort Inn home. BC Housing purchased the Victoria hotel in May to address the need for more supportive housing for those experiencing homelessness.
At the end of August, Fetterly, an accomplished chef and graduate of the Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Minneapolis, Minnesota, along with her staff of Brad Lewis, Teodoro Chavez and Chanh Lam, began preparing morning and evening meals, seven days a week.
“We usually try to do one hot breakfast a week like pancakes or bacon and eggs. We prepare a variety of dinner options that might include roast beef, pork or butter chicken. And we try and put out lots of fresh produce. We listen to the residents and try and meet their needs. It seems to be going really well. We also prepare snack bags for residents who might miss a meal and deliver them to their rooms,” said Fetterly.
A favourite day of the week has turned out to be the Sunday special when staff prepare soup and sandwiches along with a few savoury extras.
“The rice crispy squares and cookies are a big hit!”
Prior to BC Housing purchasing the Comfort Inn, Fetterly had been working as a chef at the hotel for about a year. When BC Housing took over ownership, she, Lam and Chavez stayed to offer their exceptional service to the new residents.
“When BC Housing came up with the Food Services Coordinator position it was a good fit with my experience. And Thanh and Teodoro are very talented. The residents are very lucky to have them preparing their food.”
Her previous clients were hotel guests, people who booked the large and small ballrooms for events, and patrons of the hotel’s pub. The difference in clientele doesn’t change the way she approaches her work.
“My staff and I are all very passionate about the quality of the food. When you’re well fed your life is a little happier. The quality of the food we are preparing is the same. It’s just a little bit different cooking for 100 people daily rather than 25 or so here and there.”
Fetterly is well aware of the importance of not only providing quality meals for residents, but also blending her team and clients with the community.
“Last month we had a barbeque and one of our local businesses, Megson FitzPatrick Insurance Services, paid for all the food. We cooked cheeseburgers, potato salad and had ice cream. Having our neighbour over to meet the residents was huge for community building. I think the residents here have been received fairly well.”
She is also able to expand her clientele through the support of the hotel operator, Our Place Society, which periodically calls upon Fetterly and her staff to provide food services for meetings and training sessions.
BC Housing gives a budget to purchase ingredients from Sysco and Gordon Food Services. Fetterly is also registered with the Mustard Seed Foundations’ Food Share Network program.
On the topic of sharing, Fetterly and her staff are working on a recipe to involve residents in the art of culinary food preparation.
“I’m hoping to have a couple of the residents cook in the kitchen for job skills training.”
It’s obvious Fetterly is passionate about her work and the impact it is having on her larger Comfort Inn family. She draws some of that inspiration from her own family, including her husband who is also a chef.
“We have three children and one is a hockey player and we’re feeding them all of the time. I definitely think of my children when I’m preparing and feeding this client group.”
Residents are so impressed they have requested larger portions because the food is so good.
“It’s a very rewarding experience and the feedback from the residents so far has been very positive,” said Fetterly.
One might say the positive impact her team is having on residents is icing on the cake.