Jeff Keenliside - Executive Chef
Jeff Keenliside, Executive Chef at ROAR in Tofino, B.C., has tried several times to not be a chef, but his true passion and calling in the culinary world has an irresistible, almost-gravitational pull. Instead of leaving the industry, he is joining forces with ROAR’s owner, rebellious hotelier Mandy Farmer in her mission to reimagine restaurant culture.
Originally, Jeff found his way into the kitchen as a part-time gig to help him get through accounting school, but his plans changed when he realized how deeply he was falling in love with the culinary world. The feeling was mutual: Jeff’s career rocketed when he was awarded Apprentice of the Year in 1997. Since then, Chef Jeff has been awarded Restaurant of the Year (twice—in 2001 and 2002) while at Café Brio in Victoria, in En Route Magazine’s Top Ten New Restaurants in Canada with Fire and Water in 2015, named Vancouver Island Chef of the Year in 2006, in Vancouver Magazine’s Top Five Restaurants in Victoria with lucy’s in the square in 2010 and competed twice in Gold Medal Plates for BC in 2013 and 2014.
Jeff’s love for the ocean is evident on every menu he creates, from high end to pub fare. Vancouver Island foodies will recognize Café Brio, Shelter, Apres, Fire and Water, the Oak Bay Marine Group’s Marina Restaurant, lucy’s in the square, Maude Hunter’s Pub, Vis a Vis Wine Bar, the Penny Farthing Pub, Elements Casino, the Italian Bakery and the Masthead which are all under his belt. What ties together his extensive resume is his deep passion for sustainable seafood and his unique gift for opening–or reopening–iconic eateries.
In 2020, Jeff briefly hung up his apron and started working as a landscaper. He thought he was ready for a change in career, but it turns out what he was really looking for was the next chapter in his culinary career. The tide pulled him back into the restaurant industry, and he is ready to continue his story that honours the ocean and all that it brings for us at ROAR.
He’s no stranger to Tofino, and loves the culture and coastal living. In fact, Jeff’s triumphant return to Tofino as ROAR’s Executive Chef marks twenty years almost to the day that he was Chef at Tofino’s beloved Shelter Restaurant during their grand opening. He appreciates the serenity of the landscape, the rebellious history of Tofino and being so close to the ocean that provide so much for him in terms of recreation and nourishment.
Carl Hamilton - Bar Manager
Carl Hamilton, Bar Manager at ROAR Tofino made his home in the food and beverage industry because of the wonderful chaos that defines it. He loves the spontaneity, the on-the-fly, real-world problem solving, and the people. Misfits are drawn to the bar—either sitting at it or working behind it—and Carl loves the sense of family and intimacy this environment creates.
Originally from Australia, Carl got his start behind the bar in Toronto on a working holiday, and fell in love with the craft. He spent several years learning as much as he could in the bars of Toronto, before moving to Melbourne and heading up the bar program at the Adelphi Hotel.
On a vacation to Vietnam, Carl and his wife decided to seize the day—and the bounty of fresh tropical fruits—by opening a 50-seat tiki bar in Hanoi. The Tay Ho Tiki Company was a huge success, and it taught him a lot about how western restaurant culture falls short. In Vietnam, family trumps every other type of responsibility. Carl was inspired by the flexibility this value created in his workplace, and determined to bring this culture with him when he left Vietnam. A reckoning is happening in the food and beverage industry and Carl sees himself as a vanguard of revitalizing how people treat each other and themselves within the restaurant scene.
At ROAR, his cocktails incorporate locally-sourced and foraged ingredients that help our guests find a sense of place on Vancouver Island. His menu serves as a guide book to Tofino and Carl is your trusty tour guide. He makes local shine by connecting folks to the unique eco-system of Vancouver Island’s incredible west coast.
Jamie Robb - Sous Chef
Saskatchewan-born Sous Chef Jamie Robb knew he wanted to be a Chef since his first job: the salad station of a truck stop in Moose Jaw at fifteen years old. A few years—and a few kitchen jobs—later, Jamie graduated with honours from the Culinary Arts and the Pastry Arts programs at the Culinary Institute of Canada in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island.
Jamie’s skills have taken him across Canada: cooking in competitions as part of Team PEI, and cooking in restaurants around the Maritimes and the Prairies. After a visit to Tofino in 2021, Jamie knew he’d found his next home. He joined ROAR as a combination Sous Chef and Pastry Chef in 2022, where he’s made meaningful contributions to the menu, the culture and the bakery case.
Outside of the kitchen, you’ll find Jamie surfing, hiking, camping, snowboard or curling. It should also come as no surprise that this Saskatchewan boy is a diehard Roughriders fan.
Megan York - Sous Chef
Megan York, Sous Chef at ROAR Tofino, isn’t very concerned with what she is “supposed” to do—and that’s why she’s so damn good in the kitchen. She’s a rulebreaker, a changemaker and a pioneer.
She wasn’t “supposed” to work in a kitchen. She had pressure to work a job that made more money and had more prestige. Yet, two weeks before she was supposed to start nursing school, Megan—the single mother of two toddlers– dropped out and started culinary school instead. She knew that was where she was supposed to be, and we’re grateful she took that risk.
She wasn’t “supposed” to dominate in a male-dominated industry. Megan is knocking down hurdles for other women or underrepresented folks who want to get into the restaurant industry. She’s not concerned with the oldschool culture of hierarchies—she’s concerned with merit. That’s why she doesn’t shy away from competing against chefs with much more experience in culinary competitions or raising her hand to take on a new challenge. She’s a firm believer in needing the space to try and to fail in order to succeed.
Megan’s creativity, confidence and culinary skills make her vital to the menu and culture at ROAR. She’s mastered the art of live fire cooking and delights in incorporating local ingredients into new dishes. And more importantly, Megan was born to rebel against the status quo.
Matt Brear - Resort Manager
Matt Brear, Resort Manager at Hotel Zed Tofino and ROAR, is a relentless optimist. With over 20 years of management experience in hotels, restaurants, pubs, and resorts across the world, Matt is still head-over-heels in love with the hospitality business and he’s got the show-stopping smile to prove it.
After conquering luxury hotels and the food and beverage industry in BC, Matt took his talents abroad with the Oak Bay Marine Group, settling in the Cape Santa Maria Beach Resort & Villas in the Bahamas for almost seven years. Here, he oversaw 70 staff members, 40 luxury rooms (including a renovation!) and 120 seats of food and beverage. Before landing in the Bahamas, Matt’s career with the Oak Bay Marine Group took him to the Canadian Princess Fishing Lodge and Marine Activities in Ucluelet and the Marina Restaurant in Victoria. He’s really a Vancouver Island guy at heart.
Matt is the youngest of eight kids and the very proud uncle to seventeen amazing humans! He is excited to be back on Vancouver Island, especially in Tofino where he can jog Chesterman’s Beach. During the rainiest season (which he insists he loves!), he does daydream of conch chowder in the Bahamas, but his home and his heart is with his team of rebels at Hotel Zed and ROAR.