COVID-19 has been keeping many people apart, but this father-daughter chef duo managed to get back together in a Richmond kitchen during the most challenging time.
Chefs Ken Iaci and Daniela Iaci, were elated to be working together as the executive and head chefs at Quilchena Golf and Country Club since September.
The duo, known for having owned Papi’s Ristorante in Steveston, had worked together until Daniela eventually took over as the corporate chef for the Kooner group.
“I worked at Papi’s on and off and then I worked at other places, but we would always end up working back together again,” said Daniela.
Ken told the Richmond News that they thought of opening up a small take-out and delivery food business during COVID-19 to “follow the trend” the food industry was going.
However, before they could start looking for a storefront, Ken received a message from a friend.
“A good friend of mine, who was also one of the members (at the Quilchena Golf and Country Club) asked if I could come down and have a chat with the guys because they were having a lot of discontent with the menu,” said Ken.
“There was a lack of excitement with what was going on, plus it was during COVID, so we had a couple of great meetings and things just panned out and here I am with my daughter.”
Since joining with the Quilchena team, the Iacis have brought in a new menu with additional seafood items, pasta nights, as well as a new dining membership for non-golfers at the Quilchena grill.
Their famous “pizza bread” – a popular item from when they were at Papi’s – has also been added to the menu as a result from many customers’ requests, according to Ken.
While the culinary industry has been a huge part of the Iaci’s family history, Ken said he and Daniela were the “two black sheep.”
“Daniela’s grandfather and all his brothers were bartenders so our whole family had been in the bar business for a while,” said Ken.
“Daniela and I were the two that kind of went off in the other direction as cooks and eventually our family opened Vancouver’s first Italian restaurant in 1939 called Iaci’s Casa Capri.”
But Daniela’s interest in the culinary industry started off a bit different than her father’s.
She told the News that she wasn’t too interested in being in the kitchen when her dad introduced it to her when she was 12-years-old.
“I never wanted to go to culinary school, but I eventually fell for the food industry and ended up liking it,” said Daniela, adding she remembered saying she “didn’t want to do it” in high school.
“We travelled to different countries and experienced cooking classes abroad and they were fun so I think that’s where my interest took a turn. Now this is what I want to do and it’s been 25 years since then.”
Daniela and Ken said it “feels good to be back in Richmond” surrounded by a “heart-warming community” and cannot wait to see more familiar faces.