Craig Bay embraces Chef Denise Paré-Watson

        “Wow, you’re a chef!

Vancouver Island’s Chef is embraced by the local residents

“This community is so unique with people from all walks of life and all kinds of professions and they are quite intrigued about my being both a chef and a pastry chef.  That has definitely influenced what I am doing,” said Denise Paré-Watson of Urbnspice.  Ten years ago people may not have been as interested in her being a chef but things have changed and now she is met with comments such as, “Wow, you’re a chef!”

Denise Paré-Watson

Both a Culinary Chef and a Pastry Chef, Denise and her banking husband Harold retired from Calgary to Craig Bay in Parksville and absolutely love it. “This community of 426 homes is the most amazing community we have ever lived in,” says Denise. “We lived in many communities with my husband’s bank transfers.”

Retiring to Craig Bay in Parksville, Denise had no definitive plans except one thing. “I did want to write a cook book when I retired, which I did and it grew from there.” She continued, “We would invite our neighbours in for tastings to obtain feedback for the book and it just exploded.”  People became extremely excited and started asking her if she could teach them how to cook, if she could run classes or cater a little dinner.

From that one cook book she is now building courses, writing books, developing recipes, teaching and working as a chef and pastry chef. “I do offer classes and they are gaining so much in popularity that I must admit semi-retirement seems a bit of a way off yet!”

As a child Denise and her mother always had a market garden so there was always lovely fresh produce and fruit trees. She learned to do canning at a very young age and with her education and extensive skills she combined it all into what she is doing with her jams, chutneys and her gourmet items she sells at local special events.  “The community has embraced what I am doing and they are amazing.  They will come all year round for replenishment. It has been just lovely being here.”

The cooking classes are held in her kitchen with her husband Harold helping her and from all indications they are a lot of fun.  Harold calls himself the ‘kitchen rat’, but he is ever so much more than that! He IS the official sous-chef extraordinaire!

Needing to make some changes Denise, with her husband`s encouragement decided in 1999 to attend the very intense one year chef training program at S.A.I.T.  As the top student in her class she received a scholarship so was able to continue her training and added pastry chef to her accomplishments.  The decision to take time off from work and train to be a chef has notably changed the direction of her life and she has never looked back.

Denise has written a series of books called `Chocolate Desserts Made Easy and Delicious` with plans for more in the future.   She obviously loves what she is doing and the community of Craig Bay in Parksille appreciates what she has to offer.  It`s definitely a winning situation.  Learn more about Denise and Urbnspice at

Happy travels,

Carol Ann Quibell

PS:  I could never even come close to what Denise has accomplished but my life has been a lot easier in the kitchen since we purchased our Kitchen Aid Processor.  I never thought I needed one until I got it and now I can’t believe I managed without it all these years.  

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