Official Liaison College Blog

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

A Culinary Journey

A career path can often be a bumpy and winding road filled with potholes of diversion and traffic jams of a busy life.  Meet Nadine Day:  mother, wife, daughter, entrepreneur, author and, ultimately, foodie.  And coincidentally or not, it was her father’s actual journey down a famous trail that lead her to where she is today.


Nadine is a graduate of Applied Human Sciences majoring in Nutrition and completed her  university educational experience as an intern at a hospital.  But not long after completing her family (a robust group of entrepreneurs of immigrant roots), with her mother at the helm, opened a small gardening boutique.  Nadine set out to add a cafĂ© to the little shop and started with a 30 seat cozy outlet featuring healthy and nutritional foods.  Nadine’s father, also a true entrepreneur, meanwhile was involved in many different projects.


In 2002 Nadine decided to take her love of cooking and baking to a more professional level and enrolled with Liaison College.  To her surprise, when she started classes, her Aunt was also enrolled in the same program.  The interesting twists on this path would continue.


While Nadine attended Culinary Arts training, she also worked part time for the City of Toronto in the “Eat Healthy” program.  Nadine was responsible for recipe development and nutritional counselling to a program that aimed to entice Torontonians to make healthy eating choices and maintain a healthy lifestyle.  But it was also during this time that Nadine realized that Chef Instructor, Simon Day, was a kindred spirit and when she completed her training program they started a romantic relationship.  They married a year later.


Nadine was working at what seemed to be her dream job at the flagship Loblaw Headquarters in Mississauga.  Her role was product development in the ground-breaking Blue Menu division where Loblaw’s was making convenience foods healthy, nutritional and most of all tasty.  Nadine thrived at this position.  Maternity leave intervened and upon her return Nadine worked as a dietician for the same firm.  Using all of her combined skills and knowledge was extremely rewarding.  As one of 15 in her department, Nadine worked with food all day long and relied on her food science meets culinary arts to create wonderful dishes that we enjoy at home today.  As well she was instrumental in the Guiding Stars program where Loblaw used algorithms to analyse the nutritional density of foods.


But Nadine’s restless spirit and foodie enthusiasm has kept her busy on the side.  She has developed recipes for Heart and Stroke and was able to do so from home while tending her young family.  Nadine wrote two cookbooks published by Robert Rose around healthy baby food as well as another publication for Health Canada around native cookery.  Since her favourite time is family time at the dinner table, she is busy contemplating her next book on family cooking and family gatherings.


Today Nadine is the operator and proprietor of Hacienda Sarria.  The story about this leads us back to her father’s journey, along with her brother, on the famous El Camino trail in Spain.  While trekking on the legendary pass through Spain, Nadine’s father was overcome with fatigue.  He stopped in a small village to rest a while and even considered abandoning the rest of the journey.  Suddenly a local resident appeared from her house and, noticing his discomfort, ushered him inside to ease his pain.  She fed them, comforted them, encouraged them and showed an unbelievable and improbable hospitality.  Nadine’s father would never forget this experience.


Upon his return to Canada he set out on a mission to re-create the feeling of overwhelming peace and satisfaction that he felt in Sarria.  And so Hacienda Sarria was born.

Out of a defunct and abandoned factory in Waterloo Ontario, Nadine’s father painstakingly recreated the ambience and character from the place in Sarria where hospitality was utterly genuine.  The idea was to live in this paradise, but it was soon apparent that this mansion of vision was an ideal banquet centre.  And the ever-present entrepreneurial spirit took over.


Medieval, romantic and charming the Hacienda Sarria is breathtaking.  Mere photographs cannot justify the magnitude of the beautifully manicured lawns, the imposing iron doorways, the lavish tile flooring and other details of the fixtures.  And here, in this magical place, Nadine hosts corporate events, banquets and, the specialty, weddings.  Starting only a few years ago, Nadine has more than tripled the wedding bookings and now employs two full time wedding planners.  In her community spirit, Nadine also sponsors the Nutrition Learning program in the Waterloo Region. 


When paths intersect and cross and meet, wonderful things can happen.  Nadine’s career journey is definitely not over.

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