One Slice at a Time: a Letter of Food and Connection

By Rebeka Carpenter. Posted on February 8, 2019 in Stories + Recipes

Rebeka Carpenter. Head chef by title, but she did more than just nourish the body. She was a nurturer of talent; steadfastly leading the kitchen team with vigour and gusto at the early hours of the morning into the evening. She was a nurturer of connecting food to the human spirit; using the freshest ingredients from the on-site organic garden to feed our guests, oft the catalyst needed to start their days full of programming and adventure. It is with a cup of joy and a pinch of sadness that we must bid her adieu, as she departs on another venture. This is truly a piece of bittersweet chocolate.

She was a program all of her own; proving that it is possible to value the garden, the kitchen, the food, and the mouths that would be fed. In this vein, she will be presenting “Garden to Table: Cooking & Mindful Movement” this year, which combines harvest, cooking, and yoga play; a natural fit.

After 12 seasons with us, Rebeka is moving on from her position as the Kitchen Manager. We wish Rebeka all the best and will keep her spirit alive with each vegetable cut, each bread baked, and every batch of Yeast Dressing whipped. Find her heartfelt, open letter to our community below.

Dear All,

After 12 seasons at Hollyhock as the Head Chef, I have decided to move on and take on a new adventure. A unique full-time, year-round position – rarely offered in my field – opened up, and it became apparent to me this would be the best choice for me at this point in my life. I am a newly-wed. My husband, Don, is building us a home on Cortes Island. There is a Bakery expansion in the works for the Cortes Natural food Co-op, where I accepted the position of Kitchen Supervisor. As I transition between these roles, there is an immense letting go for me as the leader of a truly talented and caring team who have worked closely together for many years.

I fully trust Hollyhock will find a super candidate to take on this role and lead the team in continuing the legacy of fresh-made family style buffet meals of outstanding variety, taste and presentation.


As I reflect on my tenure, I well remember the feeling I had upon arriving to the interview – I felt like I had come home! I am not unique in this. So many of us reclaim this feeling for ourselves as we make the wild choice to move to a wee island off the coast of British Columbia, surrounded by ocean waters. I have never looked back! Oh, I miss my dear family who live a day’s travel or more away, yet there is just something special about this place that is in my bones. I am sitting in my ocean-view kitchen office and looking out at the water and Hernando Island and Vancouver Island in the distance. It is simply stunning, in any weather or circumstance. Awe-inspiring, really. What’s not to love?


Thank you to Hollyhock and the incredible team that gathers every season to share a bounty of educational offerings, with the opportunity to delve deep into new visions, explore our creativity, and feel treasured, as we all are. It is so special to find renewed purpose and be supported by this sacred place.

I will miss the overwhelming success we enjoyed in 2018, with a consistent offerings of delicious, well-presented meals 3 times a day; totaling 33,484 meals! I will not, however, miss the days when we were short-staffed or had an unexpected delivery lapse and my role felt like that of a one armed paper hanger!

I will not say good-bye, but rather ask you stop by and say hello at the Cortes Natural Food Co-op Cafe. I will sorely miss all my many wonderful colleagues and co-workers, and I trust that this change will only deepen our connection and friendship.

Thank you to Hollyhock and the incredible team that gathers every season to share a bounty of educational offerings, with the opportunity to delve deep into new visions, explore our creativity, and feel treasured, as we all are. It is so special to find renewed purpose and be supported by this sacred place.

I will miss the smell and whirl of the many hundreds, if not thousands, of batches of Hollyhock Yeast Dressing I have made, seen made, and certainly heard, loud and clear, to creamy deliciousness on the amazing greens from the garden! Oh, I will miss the garden and all the herby goodness of the thyme and parsley grown in abundance!

I will hold dear the many sweet memories of the incredible people I have worked with and the wonderful guests and Presenters who traverse to Cortes Island and Hollyhock to unfold, explore, and remember their best selves.

Its been a day at the beach!

May you be nourished in all that you do, especially at meal time!
– Rebeka Joy

Do you know anyone passionate about culinary arts and leading with authenticity? Please pass along our Kitchen Manager job description to any of your Chef connections that you think would be fit to take the reigns of our kitchen and lead our team in creating the mouth-wartering, garden-to-table meals that Hollyhock is internationally known for.

Showing 5 comments
  • Penny Naldrett

    Wishing you all the best Rebeka. Thank you for the many soul-filling meals I have enjoyed at Hollyhock and for your utter understanding of what makes a good cake. I’ll be sure to visit you at the Co-op. xo

  • Steven V Smith

    Dear Rebeka, I am so delighted for your newly unfolding life, yet more creative nurturing, a life partner and a new home. I am also sad you are leaving Hollyhock, and will sorely miss the nurturing I personally felt from you, physically from your incredible, innovative food presentations and cooking creations, as well as the support of our metta and vipassana teaching team, and of our students over the past dozen years. And, notably, the spiritual connection I felt with you. Thank you for your generosity and loveliness of being. I loved noticing you escape through an upstairs window now and again to enjoy a meal in solitude.
    With much love and appreciation,
    Steven Smith

    • Rebeka Carpenter

      Oh Steven; thank you for your heartfelt and loving words. Over the years I so came to enjoy and cherish the 2 weeks you and Michelle, and your attendees and teaching team provided, as a soft opening to each season at Hollyhock. I so love feeding people and the joy I experience in that process, as daunting as it can be at times, like a high wire act, is fulfilling to my core! I will miss you and all that you bring in being at Hollyhock. It was one of my biggest pangs of regret, oh no I won’t be able to serve the Metta Vipassana folks! Maybe they will let me cook for a surprise shift! Godspeed as you travel to Cortes Island and Hollyhock in a few months. May I greet you soon… With gratitude and fondness.

  • Eduardo Schwartz

    Dear Rebeka:

    As someone who has enjoyed many, many of your wonderful meals I want to thank you for your many years at HH.
    We will miss you dearly, not only for the quality of the food you gave us, but also for your lovely personality.
    I wish you the best in your new venture and look forward to continue seeing you in the Island.

    With love and appreciation,


    • Rebeka Carpenter

      Dear Eduardo,
      Thank you for your sweet note.
      I will miss serving you and your wonderful and growing family, which brings such warmth and high energy to the meals shared in the Hollyhock lodge.
      Your support and encouragement during my tenure at Hollyhock has been a gift; I honor!
      Most fondly,

Leave a Reply