Dressed in denim and leather, short hair spiked to a rebellious peak, Kayla Dhaliwall—aka the Dragon Chef—might not embody the usual image of a French bistro chef. But her unique style and passion for cooking have earned her praise from the Stevenson Insider—and have led her to a spot on Top Chef Canada. In January 2013, Dhaliwall brought her talents to the kitchen at Tapenade Bistro as its newest executive chef.
Founded a decade earlier by Vince Morlet, Tapenade Bistro began as an effort to blend French culinary traditions with a unique West Coast influence. Today, Vince's small harbor-side eatery holds true to this original intent with a focus on seasonal, local, and sustainable ingredients.
Chef Dhaliwall builds on this mission, improving on the Ocean Wise–approved menu with her own ideas, much like a hotshot mechanic who improves his tricycle with an ejector seat. Dhaliwall conjures platters of mussels and clams, pickle-battered fish ’n’ chips, yogurt-fried chicken and waffles, and Angus steaks. She also curates a local charcuterie and cheese platter, as well as makes her own blue-corn tortillas and ricotta cheese.
Complementing her dishes is a list of wines from small, independent BC producers—some of whom appear in the restaurant during Tapenade Bistro’s Winemakers Dinner Series.