A change in the lineup makes long-time fans of a winning team almost as nervous as the players. Akin to cheering on your favourite sports, as athletes move on to new horizons and group dynamics shift, you want everyone to succeed.
That’s how I’ve felt as I watched Joy Road Catering (JRC) emerge this season under new ownership. Olivia Fobert and Executive Chef Brett Turner, known as the family behind Vancouver’s Cocktails & Canapes, purchased beloved JRC from Dana Ewart and Cameron Smith. Many of us wondered whether their success in the Lower Mainland would transplant effectively in the Okanagan.
We were cheering them on hoping those JRC roots planted in 2006 we loved at the Penticton Farmers Market, at Alfresco Long Table Dining Series and any event they cooked would thrive. JRC became such an Okanagan institution it is a source of pride to the community
Truly the bar was high and while many key staff returned, folks wondered how the team would meld. Making stakes higher, the complexity of the Covid-19 pandemic dealt an additional challenge to the new partners.
JRC’s first fix was to establish The Container in downtown Penticton as a pickup point for Alfresco Sunday Night Dinners and Curated Market Bags to go. Available by pre-order, the take home boxes included a six-course meal paired with a local wine. The Alfresco Dinner Box and Market Bag highlighted local farmers and purveyors. Open Saturdays and Sundays, The Container sold JRC classics like sourdough bread and galettes. It was a brilliant twist and I can attest to the superb quality of the offerings.
Complete with comprehensive preparation guidelines, the Joy Road Catering Alfresco Dinner To Go
When safe to do so, JRC reconfigured its long table gatherings to fit within all the Covid-19 special protocols from Interior Health and WorkSafe BC. Guests booked ahead for open air dining seated in groups of six maximum set at least six feet apart from other parties. These Alfresco Dinners were offered in numerous locations. With our good friends Deb and Kevin Schellenberg from West Kelowna, we selected one held at Painted Rock Estate Winery.
It was inspiring to see how thoughtfully the whole team operated under these restrictions while ensuring each guest enjoyed an outstanding and safe experience.
Joy Road Catering Alfresco Dinner at Painted Rock Estate Winery
I also was privileged to attend the media launch of La Petite Abeille Cider and JRC’s Alfresco Dining Series at The Blue Bee Orchard. In the picturesque setting on the Naramata Bench with Okanagan Lake shimmering in the vista, we enjoyed a private cider tasting, tour of Blue Bee’s working orchard and Plot Twist Farms that culminated with an exquisite plated lunch.
La Petite Abeille Cider and Joy Road Catering Launch an Alfresco Dining Series at The Blue Bee Orchard
After its busy debut amid additional stress, JRC winds down this season in September. JRC’s new team shone through, protecting the brand we love and mixing in some delightful surprises of its own. In the future, there’s rumours of a JRC permanent bakery downtown with a few suites above. We can hardly wait to see what’s next.