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Bon Appetit and Buen Provecho! A mediterranean cruise in a Qualicum Beach dining room

At this retirement community, residents enjoy a full range of culinary experiences
Chef Matt Macdonald serves up mouthwatering, nutritious cuisine at Berwick Qualicum Beach, and enjoys connecting with residents for feedback on the menu. (Photo: Joshua Lawrence Studios Inc.)

‘Tis the season for festive feasts and enriching meals that bring cheer to long winter evenings. What’s been warming your kitchen these days? A Thanksgiving roast with all the fixings, a spicy curry, or a hearty soup featuring the best of fall’s harvest?

Chef Matt Macdonald at Berwick Qualicum Beach always lays out delicious meals designed to tempt tastebuds and optimize nutrition, and this autumn is no different.

“We started a cruise through the mediterranean, visiting a different port each month with international meals and wine pairings,” he says. In addition to meals, residents can participate in language classes, crafts and information sessions at each ‘port of call.’ “Next week we’re doing France, serving shredded duck a l’orange and other traditional French dishes. We’ve also planned ‘stops’ in Spain, Greece and North Africa,” he says.

But don’t get scared off if fine dining is not your style. Berwick’s Red Seal chefs serve a choice of mains and sides to please everyone, from fine dining to comfort food. Residents are welcome to eat in the main dining room or the bistro, or take a to-go meal in their suite, depending on their schedule, appetite and social calendar.

“The beauty of Berwick is it’s a small community with a family atmosphere. We get to know residents,” Macdonald says. “One of my favourite forums for feedback is to ‘work the floor’ while we’re serving. We also welcome residents to our food meetings, which helps me design the menu.”

Local harvests and garden-fresh meals

Chef Macdonald is developing relationships with local farmers to bring fresh, nutritious ingredients to Berwick Qualicum Beach, including the Hertels ham from Port Alberni that they served at Thanksgiving.

“The pandemic got in the way of some of our plans, but next year we’re going to do more feature meals based on local farmers. We’re also planning to do Saturday tours at the market across the street. We’ll visit the market with residents, and then cook a meal with the ingredients that are in season.”

Macdonald and the other talented Red Seal Chefs are engaging with residents to develop dining experiences that involve their input in new and creative ways. Macdonald also recently taught Mooch the puppet how to make Moroccan stew!

Next season Berwick Qualicum Beach plans to grow herbs and edible flowers to help flavour dinner each night.

“We like to use herbs and lemon to create an abundance of flavour, without relying on salt,” Macdonald says. By offering over five options at each meal, residents with varying palettes are sure to find something to tempt their tastebuds, and every meal comes with a spectacular dessert option from Red Seal Baker Jenny Jones.

For a copy of the Moroccan stew recipe or to learn more about life at Berwick, contact Krysta Robins at 250-738-6200 or at And don’t forget to follow Berwick Qualicum Beach on Facebook and Instagram for more cooking videos and amazing resident performances!

At the Berwick Qualicum Beach Bistro residents can connect with kitchen staff and enjoy fine dining or comfort food. (Photo: Joshua Lawrence Studios Inc.)
Red Seal Baker Jenny offers delicious desserts to cap off every meal at Berwick Qualicum Beach. (Photo: Joshua Lawrence Studios Inc.)