Female executive chefs are a lot like award-winning hotel restaurants — rarities in an industry where
both still face bias. So, in some respects,
Isabel Chung is practically a unicorn.
Executive chef of the Fairmont Chateau
Whistler, she is currently the only top-toque-wearing boss lady in the entire
group of 76 Fairmont hotels and resorts
Last spring, the fine-dining Grill Room
(one of six restaurants she oversees, in
addition to room service, banquets and
catering) was named best Whistler
restaurant in the Vancouver Magazine
Restaurant Awards, a decision that
stunned everyone — her and Executive
Sous Chef Derek Bendig most of all.
WHISTLER TRAVELLER 56
STORY BY ALEXANDRA GILL
“We promptly almost fell out of our
chairs,” she says, thinking back to the
awards ceremony. “I was not prepared to
make a speech of any sort. There might
have been some rambling.”
For the record, Chung is not the rambling
type. She speaks clearly, concisely and
looks you straight in the eye with a
disarming grin when she tells you just how
competitive she is. “I want to win — all
the time,” she says, with a long, serious
pause followed by a ripple of laughter.
Even her laugh, a high-octave trill, has
the ping of silvery coins falling neatly into
narrow slots. One can only imagine how
clean and organized her kitchens must be.
“There is no such thing as clean enough,”
she says — not jokingly.
Fairmont Executive Chef Revels
in Grill Room’s Recent Award
EXECUTIVE CHEF ISABEL CHUNG
FAIRMONT CHATEAU WHIS TLER / JULIE ZONE Y
FAIRMONT CHATEAU WHIS TLER / KEVIN CLARK