Oliver Eats Ltd. Building Community One Bite at a Time
By Roslyne Buchanan
Oliver Eats Ltd. has a clean, industrial exterior tucked away from Oliver’s Main Street/Highway 97 on Station Street. The storefront is softened seasonally by what can be displayed outside – on my last visit pumpkins, squash and garlic.
The real welcome comes in opening the door as the scents and sounds spill out and the sights of a dynamic deli come into focus. The Cambridge Dictionary defines delicatessen as “a small shop that sells high-quality foods, such as types of cheese and cold cooked meat, often from other countries”.
Oliver Eats exudes that description and goes well beyond to create community in keeping with Slow Food International (www.slowfood.com) philosophy.
“Slow Food envisions a world in which all people can access and enjoy food that is good for them, good for those who grow it and good for the planet” … “defined by three interconnected principles:
GOOD: quality, flavorsome and healthy food
CLEAN: production that does not harm the environment
FAIR: accessible prices for consumers and fair conditions and pay for producers.”
I’ve known Chef/Founder Derek Uhlemann, his wife Sunnie and daughter Ruby Mae for years so I’m not surprised that tenet was key in launching Oliver Eats. They love to travel and share an affinity for Mexico with my husband Mark and me. We’ve often talked about how tacos taste better there served with such love and sense of family. Of course, they’d walk-the-talk with the belief “that connecting people through food creates a better community”.
Derek put sweat equity into startups for himself and others, so his empathy is heartfelt for food entrepreneurs trying to launch products or businesses. Read more about his background and the story of Oliver Eats, at https://olivereats.com
For long as I’ve known him, he’s been an influential advocate for certified organic, minimal intervention, and restorative agriculture – and a fantastic chef to boot! Little wonder that the Salmon Safe British Columbia third-party certification program with its mission to keep “water clean and watersheds healthy so wild salmon can thrive” selected him as Outreach Coordinator.
But I digress: This lays the foundation for a vibrant hub where you experience delicious food while food entrepreneurs gain resources. What catches your eye first is the well-stocked deli with cheeses not easily sourced, meats, breads, baking goods, pastas, artisan pickles, olives, and so much more. The décor is an eclectic mix of collectibles and edibles.
As you settle in, you’ll note the flurry of activity in the commercial kitchen where memberships are available for individual work stations or the kitchen incubator on a subscription or drop in basis. Access to quality equipment, storage and refrigeration is offered. Oliver Eats does catering and watch for cooking classes, communal dinners, industry nights, food truck weekends, and pop-up markets such as Codfathers Seafood from Kelowna. From 10 am to 2 pm, Saturday, December 8, a Winter Maker’s Market featuring South Okanagan Artisans Collective members is hosted.
Soup, salad, sandwich, daily special, and “dash away” categories comprise the menu. You’ll savour International cuisine influenced by the skilled team ranging from coconut curries to Bolognese sauce using local ingredients when possible. Plus, those freshly baked goodies will call your name. Quench your thirst with tasty beverage selections such as craft soda, juices, teas, and Italian-style cappuccino, latte et al using locally roasted Wolf Tree Coffee Co.
While “Chef Derek’s mission is to share the Pastrami sandwich with the world and create conversation around community and food”, I couldn’t resist the lure of a well-built egg salad sandwich with mixed green salad. My choice was delightful as was the bowl of chili Mark selected and our cappuccinos. Life goals = pastrami next visit because I know Oliver Eats won’t disappoint!
As I left with Garlic Freak pickles among my purchases, another waft of cinnamon, apple and roasted carrots intermingled aromas tickled my nose. Smells like community spirit to me.
Featured photo: Deli counter choice tantalize as team bustle to serve. Photo credit: Roslyne Buchanan.