Published On: Wednesday, 08 August 2018

Big Award for Community-Oriented Restaurant

Big Award for Community-Oriented Restaurant

PENTICTON - They gave to their community, and their community gave back.

Opening just under two years ago, The Nest & Nectar celebrated a big win on June 14, being named Restaurant of the Year at the Grant Thornton LLP  Business Excellence Awards at Kelowna’s Coast Capri Hotel.

The restaurant offers wholesome, local food, and has established itself as a community centre and gathering place.

Co-owners Randy Foster and Kristen (Fergy) Ferguson fulfilled one of their life-long dreams when they opened the establishment in the historical Cannery Trade Centre in October 2016.

“Our vision was to open a restaurant that was more about community involvement than it was about food and beverage,” says Foster.

Throughout the last year, the restaurant has offered their space at no charge to various community groups from artists to musicians to non-profit organizations.

In addition to the Grant Thornton LLP Business Excellence Award, The Nest & Nectar has received awards from the Penticton & Wine Country Chamber of Commerce and been recognized in Okanagan Life Magazine.

“The awards are shocking to us,” says Foster. “I imagine it feels like when an artist sells their first work for a significant amount of money. We are literally living our dream out here which pays back ten-fold in our happiness.

“We felt most overwhelmed when our whole team stood up to receive ‘The Best New Business’ award at The Chamber of Commerce Awards last year. Our team was so excited. Some were moved to tears. This group of incredible individuals are helping to make our dream come true and they are just as excited as we are.”

Foster and Ferguson arrived at the Grant Thornton LLP Business Excellence Awards on a rented school bus along with a large group of Penticton businesses.

“Everyone met at The Nest & Nectar for some appetizers and cocktails and we all piled on the school bus in our finest attire,” says Foster.

“Penticton is a very community minded city and we were all there for each other. Some of us were competing in the same category but there was nothing but a feeling of support.”

The couple brings decades of experience in the food service, customer service, and hospitality industries to the table.

Ferguson got her start 25 years ago as a busser in a fine dining restaurant. Since then, she has helped to open several restaurants, managed a catering operation, and helped open the food services division of the Taylor Centre of Performing Arts.

“She is a pastry chef a holds her dear grandmothers recipes close to her heart,” says Foster.

Foster has extensive experience in restaurant customer service roles in the Calgary area, and has a passion for crafting cocktails and bartending.

“One of our most popular dishes is the BBQ Board, which is a build-your-own wild game board that starts off with grilled salad, corn bread, mustards and bbq'd local veggies. I personally love the nachos and wild mushroom risotto,” says Ferguson.

Foster is enamoured with the restaurant’s homemade waffles, made using a recipe passed down from Ferguson’s grandmother. “They are so fluffy,  and melt-in-your-mouth delicious,” he says.

According to Foster, local, simple food that is “made with love” has been key to their success.

“We make everything from scratch and we do not cut corners,” he says.  “Careful thought is put into absolutely everything, right down to our complimentary kids plates. If we cannot execute it onsite then we reach out to local suppliers.“

The culinary team, led by Chef Kendra Carlson and Alyssa Gobiel, are encouraged to get creative with their craft.

“They work collaboratively on the framework, recipes, plating and execution, with both having come from creative culinary backgrounds,” says Foster.

Giving back to the community is one of the Nest & Nectar’s chief values.

“We source our ingredients locally as much as we can,” says Foster. “We started working with Valley Produce Plus, which is a local food supplier that buys locally.

“We are also connected with What the Fungus mushrooms in Summerland, local honey supplier Okanagan Wild Brush Honey, Pioneer Gourmet Coffee in Kelowna, which roasts incredible organic coffee, Big Al’s Bakery, which provides us with incredible preservative free sandwich bread, and two organic farmers, who give us the freshest fruits and vegetables.”

Throughout 2017, the restaurant’s growth far exceeded Foster and Ferguson’s expectations. They attribute this growth to the overwhelming support they have received from their community.

“Everyday our guests are coming by for many various reasons - to purchase theatre tickets, to catch up with a friend for a coffee or a delicious homemade treat, a meal with a co-worker or friend, a craft cocktail on the patio, etc,” says Foster.

“All of these reasons lead to the restaurant having a greater impact on people's’ lives. We put in the effort to ensure that the guests coming to the restaurant make this one of the best parts of their day.”