Jeff Keenliside was born on the East coast and grew up on the West coast. He worked in kitchens while pursuing post-secondary education until landing at the Aerie Resort where his passion for cooking landed him an apprenticeship, finishing at the newly opening Café Brio where he built a strong foundation in localism, seasonality and menu composition.
His six years spent at Café Brio took him from an apprentice to the Chef position and brought him accolades such as Apprentice of the Year & Restaurant of the Year. He left Brio to open Tofino’s Shelter Restaurant and then joined the Marina Restaurant in 2005 where he received honours as Vancouver Island Chef of the Year and also helped his pastry team achieve top honours two years in a row at the Grand Marnier Challenge. He committed himself to the role of Vice-President of the Island Chef’s Collaborative and helped organize their first annual event, Defending Our Backyard, recognizing the importance of relationships between local producers and top local restaurants. Jeff was also asked to sit on the apprenticeship advisory board at Camosun College to help define the changing needs of this educational component for the industry.
Jeff left the Marina Restaurant in 2009 to pursue every chef’s dream of running their own establishment. Lucy’s in the Square achieved top restaurant honours by Vancouver Magazine in its first year out. While the small neighbourhood bistro only ran for two years, the insight and experience he gained as a restaurant owner was invaluable. Jeff then utilized his education and experience to start consulting in Victoria, and a couple of years later opportunity once again presented itself and he rejoined the Marina Restaurant as Executive Chef. This soon led to an even greater level of responsibility as Corporate Chef for the entire Oak Bay Marine Group of companies. Jeff oversees the Marina Restaurant and the kitchens of four distinctive resort properties including Cape Santa Maria in the Bahamas, where he acts as Head Chef for six weeks every year.
His tireless efforts and passion for sustainability have resulted in having all of the company’s B.C. restaurants 100% Ocean Wise certified, and under his guidance they are now also serving up sustainability in the Bahamas. This May, the Marina Restaurant will have the first and only 100% Ocean Wise certified Sushi Bar in Victoria.
Jeff fosters company-wide apprenticeship programs, assists Resort General Managers, Executive Chefs and kitchen crews with menu development, implements current food trend ideas, and evaluates overall consistency and quality across various operations. He will continue his passionate support of local products that bring freshness and uniqueness to the menus throughout the organization, and is the spokesperson for all culinary departments and restaurants at the Oak Bay Marine Group.
Jeff loves living on the West coast and he draws inspiration from it in all areas of his life. When not at work he can be found exploring the roads of BC on his motorcycle, salmon fishing from Pedder Bay, or gardening at home.