Dino Renaerts, Partner and Executive Chef
Dino Renaerts has firmly established himself as one of the west coast’s culinary leaders. Born, raised, educated and trained in Vancouver, Renaerts has built a prolific career spanning over two decades that has seen him cook in a clutch of the city’s finest restaurants. Today, Renaerts applies his talent, passion and vision to his role as partner in The Bon Vivant Group, serving discerning clientele across the Lower Mainland.
A love of wine inspires Renaerts’s cuisine. In 1999, he was the first Red Seal chef in Canada to become a Certified Sommelier through the International Sommelier Guild, where he finished top in his class. Renaerts’s expertise in oenology earned him the runner-up Sommelier of the Year award at the Vancouver International Playhouse Wine Festival in 2006 and 2010.
Studies at the Dubrulle French Culinary School and a three-year apprenticeship at the William Tell led to roles at Bishop’s and Le Gavroche. Renaerts cooked for celebrities and royalty at the Fairmont Waterfront Hotel and Fairmont Hotel Vancouver and further honed his skills in the award-winning kitchens of Bistro Pastis and West. He later accepted executive chef positions at the Crown Plaza Hotel Georgia and the Metropolitan Hotel, home to the acclaimed Diva restaurant.
Recognition for his distinct, innovative approach to cooking has followed Renaerts throughout his career. He has garnered accolades for numerous regional and international competitions and was named ‘a culinary talent to watch’ by Vancouver and City Food magazines, and the Province newspaper. He has also earned Best Northshore Restaurant since moving across the bridge to West Vancouver.
Devoted to his province and his craft, Renaerts is actively involved in British Columbia’s culinary scene. In 2015, he showcased his talents at several high-profile events, including the David Hawksworth Culinary Adventure at the West Coast Fishing Club for the 9th year, the BC Hospitality Foundation's - Dish n' Dazzle, and the Chefs' Table Society of B.C.'s - Curry Cup. Renaerts served first on the board and later as President of the BC Chef’s Association from 2004 to 2009; he continues to be an active board member with the BC Hospitality Foundation and advisory board member for the Vancouver International Wine Festival.
Global influences have helped fuel Renaerts’s passion for cuisine. He has represented Canada’s culinary excellence in Indonesia and California and has drawn inspiration from visits to Singapore, Hong Kong, San Francisco, New York, the Napa Valley and Portland. Renaerts counts Greece and France’s Champagne region as his next culinary destinations.
Renaerts’s education in wine led to his most important partnership: his marriage to restaurant-industry veteran, Nessa van Bergen, whom he met during an International Sommelier Guild course at Dubrulle Culinary Arts. Today, Renaerts and van Bergen are partners in The Bon Vivant Group and have two vibrant girls who keep life busy and bright.
Nessa van Bergen, Partner and Sommelier
Nessa's first foray into high-end dining was with Umberto Menghi as part of the opening team for Mangiamo Ristorante in Yaletown in 1994, long before it became the ‘in’ neighbourhood it is now. She worked her way from Lunch Manager to Dining Room Manager after a year and credits her introduction into the world of wine to Chef Ken Bogas. Rising to the top of the restaurant scene in the 90's, van Bergen earned her International Sommelier Guild certification (ISG) in 1999, the first year it was available in Vancouver.
From Mangiamo, Nessa moved to Le Crocodile to become the youngest Maitre d’ chef/owner Michel Jacob had worked with at his award winning restaurant. At Le Crocodile, Nessa worked on her first, of many throughout her career, Chaines des Rotisseurs dinner.
A couple of years later she took on the General Manager’s position at The Creek Restaurant and Brewery on Granville Island, where in addition to overseeing the restaurant and lounge facilities, she oversaw the business of the onsite Micro-brewery. The venue was perfect for the many high profile events coordinated by her team for the likes of MGM Studios of Los Angeles, BMW Canada, and ‘Along Came a Spider’ Productions.
Three years later, Nessa would see her first foray into the hotel business with position of Outlet Manager at the four star Delta Pinnacle Hotel. During her time at the Pinnacle, Showcase Restaurant won ‘Best Hotel Dining’ by the Where Magazine Restaurant Awards; hosted Jean-Louis Palladin as a Guest Chef; held Canada’s first all-cognac dinner with Rémy Martin of France and a Wine Maker’s dinner with Ferrari-Carano of Sonoma; hosted Andretti Winery and proprietor Mario Andretti for an exclusive dinner to coincide with Molson Indy; hosted the American Wine Society for a dinner, and Chateau St. Michelle and Columbia Crest of Washington for a Wine Maker’s dinner.
A big move was to follow when Nessa was wooed to join the team at Joe Fortes Seafood & Chop House to run the beverage program and study under the tutelage of famed restaurateur, Bud Kanke. During her 7 years in this position Joe Fortes annually garnered the coveted ‘Best of Award of Excellence’ from the Wine Spectator and the ‘Award of Ultimate Distinction’ from the Wine Enthusiast, one of only 2 restaurants in BC to accomplish this. Her beverage program sold over 43,000 bottles of wine a year and was the largest individual purchaser of wine after the Convention Centre and GM Place (now Rogers Arena) for a 5 year period. She also took a pivotal role in the opening of sister restaurant, Goldfish Pacific Kitchen in her old digs in Yaletown and developed a Corporate Purchasing position that included beverages, as well as sundries, and later food. From that position she was chosen by her colleagues and Bud Kanke to take on the role of Operations Leader for both Joe Fortes Seafood & Chop House and Goldfish Pacific Kitchen in Vancouver which she fulfilled for a year while having 2 young children and successful celebrity chef husband.
Going back to her entrepreneurial roots, Nessa decided to concentrate fulltime on her restaurant acumen and focus solely on their catering and hospitality consulting business, The Bon Vivant Group. Past and present clients include California Wine Institute, Royal Bank of Canada, Herman Miller, Gateway Casinos & Entertainment Limited, Pinnacle International (PIER 7 restaurant + bar), Northland Properties, Power To Be, Bridgeman Services, Grady Wine Marketing, Diageo, BC Hospitality Foundation, New World Wines Inc., Skin Works, Electronic Arts, Heirloom Holdings, Hill & Knowlton, Kidsport Vancouver, Wine Australia, Wines of Provence, Wines of Chile, Wines of South Africa, Vitala Foods, Nita Lake Lodge, Wine Umbrella, Tugboat Group, and Joe Fortes Seafood & Chop House. They have developed partnerships with many of the local wine-centric public relations firms to provide wine and food pairings, catering, and media opportunities in Whistler, Vancouver, and the Gulf Islands. They are proud supporters of the BC Hospitality Foundation and partner regularly with them on fundraising events. Nessa also manages to find time to serve on the Executive Committee and Chair the PAC at her children's elementary school in West Vancouver.