When hiring a catering company, you’re putting your trust in us to help you create and carry out a truly memorable experience. To that end, Railtown Catering was founded on the idea that a caterer should anticipate the needs of each of our clients.
From your very first phone call to the time your last guest walks out the door, our friendly and knowledgable team of classically trained chefs and event coordinators will work with you every step of the way to help you showcase your creativity.
Born and raised in Vancouver, Chef Dan Olson sparked an abiding passion for food and wine during stints at the Century Grill Restaurant and Bacchus Restaurant at The Wedgewood Hotel, where he earned the coveted role of Apprentice under Chef Robert Sulatycky for the Bocuse d’Or, helping Canada record a best-ever fourth-place finish at the prestigious world chef championship in 1999 before embarking on an extensive culinary walkabout and honing his craft in top-tier kitchens throughout the world.
Dan comes by his classical French techniques honestly, having worked under Chef Guy Lassausaie at his eponymous Michelin-starred restaurant in Lyon and Chef Yannick Alleno at the Michelin-starred restaurant Les Muses at the Hotel Scribe in Paris. Olson returned from his overseas sojourn in 2002 and cheffed for Four Seasons Resorts and Hotels in Chicago, Whistler, Dallas, Cairo, Bahamas, Washington, D.C., Toronto and Jackson Hole before settling in California in 2006, where he worked as Senior Sous Chef and Executive Sous Chef at the Mobil Five-Star- and AAA Five-Diamond-award winning Beverly Hills Hotel before taking on the role of Executive Chef at the iconic Hotel Bel Air in Los Angeles in 2009.
Dan returned to both his Vancouver and Bocuse d’Or roots in 2012, founding Railtown Catering and Café with Chef Tyler Day and using the Downtown Eastside facility as a test kitchen to help coach the Canadian team to a top-ten finish among a field of 24 countries at the 2013 edition of the Bocuse d’Or competition in Lyon, France.
Chef Tyler Day’s interest in the culinary world was cultivated at an early age. From time spent picking wild blackberries to make pie with his grandmother, foraging for mushrooms or embarking on weekend fishing trips with his dad, Day quickly learned to appreciate fine food in all its freshest forms.
After graduating from the prestigious Dubrulle Culinary Arts School in Vancouver, Tyler travelled to Oxfordshire, England, where he studied under renowned Chef Raymond Blanc at the Michelin star hotel-restaurant Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons. Tyler then ventured to the Big Apple, working at Michelin star seafood restaurant Oceana in Manhattan before returning to Vancouver and serving as sous chef in such acclaimed, award-winning kitchens as Bistro Pastis, Diva at the Met and CinCin Ristorante + Bar as well as Restaurant Chef at Pearl Bistro & Oyster Bar in White Rock.
In 2012, with 15 years of experience in the kitchen already under his belt, Tyler embarked on a new challenge by partnering with Chef Dan Olson in Railtown Catering and Café and has since focused his career on the company’s continued success.
“I’ve dedicated my life to working and playing in the kitchen,” says Tyler. “It’s a window into ancient traditions, modern culture and a perfect way to spend time with family and friends. It’s always been my dream to start a business that offers food that is both healthy and delectable with an environmentally conscious approach, and at Railtown that dream has taken shape.”
While Ljubek may be a relatively new arrival to the often fast-paced, high-pressure world of luxury catering, he’s certainly no stranger to the kitchen.
After graduating from the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts in 2005, LJubek went on to sharpen his skills in a number of roles at high-end restaurants such as Burnaby’s Pear Tree and Vancouver’s L’Abattoir and Hawksworth before advancing in the role of sous chef at both L’Abattoir and Royal Dinette.
Ljubek, who joined the Railtown Catering team in May of 2016, benefitted from an early nudge of encouragement from his Croatian parents, who would regularly make their own sausage, pickle and preserve a variety of fruits and vegetables and hold pig and lamb spit-roasts in their home, setting the tone for their son’s future culinary career.
“It’s an exciting environment at Railtown and a great team to be a part of,” says Ljubek. “Every day offers new experiences, challenges and opportunities to both learn from and teach others, and while the logistics of catering are a whole different animal than working the line in a kitchen, the ultimate goal is the same: to make our guests happy with the quality of food we prepare and to create innovative dishes each and every day.”
It was a true family tradition that nurtured Railtown Corporate Sous Chef Amy Cho’s lifelong love affair with the kitchen. Some of her fondest memories as a child come from helping her mother peel garlic or watching her grandmother fire up the wok. As a result, after high school, Cho chose a career path that led straight through culinary school.
Upon graduation, she honed her skills on the line at the Michelin-starred Amber Restaurant at the Landmark Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Hong Kong before returning to the West Coast to further bolster her back-of-house acumen with stops at Joy Road Catering in Kelowna and Culinary Capers in Vancouver. Following stints at Maison Boulud Restaurant at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Montreal and Vancouver’s L’Abattoir, she went on a culinary walkabout in Australia, logging time at Melbourne’s Saint Crispin Restaurant and Code Black Café and Roastery before returning home to take on her current role with Railtown.
Beyond paying homage to her lineage, Amy credits a recipe of perseverance, determination and pure passion for helping her tackle the often-relentless pressure and countless hours that can go hand in hand with a career in the kitchen. She’s found the ideal match for her many talents at Railtown, where she draws a constant source of inspiration from co-partners and chefs Dan Olson and Tyler Day.
“Dan and Tyler are two of the most amazing and talented chefs I’ve had the pleasure to share the floor with,” she says. “It’s rare to find a kitchen with no set rules or recipes — they encourage us to learn by experimentation and to perfect our craft, and I really admire that.”
After graduating with honours from the Culinary Management program at Fanshawe College in London, Ont. and apprenticing in a local wedding-cake bakery, Alex Abley took on the role of Head Pastry Chef at French restaurants Decca 77 and Le Newtown in Montreal before coming to Vancouver and sharpening his skills for three years under celebrated fourth-generation patissier and chocolatier Thomas Haas.
As Railtown Pastry Chef, Alex oversees a team of four cooks in one of the fastest-growing sectors of the business and is responsible for the production scheduling and recipe creation for all of Railtown Catering and Café’s pastries and desserts as well as the in-house fresh bread program. Alex also boasts a background in visual arts, which helped him develop a keen eye for balance, form, composition and colour and allows him to infuse each of his menu creations with a delicately delicious finesse as pleasing to the eye as it is to the palate.
“Presentation is the key,” says Alex. “Looking down at a plate and realizing that you’ve created something that not only tastes good but looks beautiful as well is what I strive for. And the diversity of the items that we make at Railtown — everything from plated desserts to a wide assortment of sweet and savoury canapés to rustic, homestyle breads — means that neither myself nor my team is ever bored. There’s always something new to pique our interest.”
Railtown Catering’s Events and Marketing Manager Marli Anderson has been a familiar face and major player in the company’s success, helping to shepherd its growth and direction since it was first founded in 2012.
After earning her degree in Tourism Business Management at Capilano University in 2010 and working as Operations Supervisor for Opus Hotel’s high-end catering department, she began her career at Railtown as General Manager of the company’s sister café at 397 Railway St., building it from the ground up alongside chef/owners Dan Olson and Tyler Day. From there she moved into the role of Operations Director at Railtown Catering, where she helped forge the company’s high standard of culinary excellence and impeccable service as well as its reputation for creative cocktails and exceptional event coordination.
Today, as Railtown’s Events and Marketing Manager, Marli is a customer-service connoisseur, building relationships with both suppliers and clients and providing friendly, professional and to-the-point planning for a wide array of events, making sure every specific detail — from venue selection, décor, audio-visual services, specially designed cocktails and, of course, Railtown’s trademark gourmet, French-inspired cuisine — is covered.
“For me, it’s all about the food. Dan and Ty and Mat inspire and amaze me daily,” says Marli. “I’m always soaking up what they say when they talk about food and my goal here is to help people who want to have a great wedding, party or meeting realize their unique vision and impress each of their guests.”
The newest addition to the Railtown team, Dave brings plenty of front-of-house experience to the fold, having launched his career in the hospitality industry at the age of 15 when he began nurturing a love of fine food, wine and cocktails as well as a flair for tableside service.
Dave gained experience as a server at a variety of restaurants in the Lower Mainland before shifting into the roles of assistant manager, bar manager and wine director at Cielo’s Tapas and Oyster Bar and Pearl Bistro & Oyster Bar in White Rock and holding the title of manager at Uli’s Restaurant on White Rock Beach.
In his role as Railtown Catering’s Operations Manager, Dave oversees the logistical planning, staffing and execution of all private events, and liaises with clients and the kitchen and service staff to ensure that the menu preparation, required rentals, deliveries and set-up and take-down of each function goes smoothly.
“I love the atmosphere of teamwork and camaraderie that exists within the talented team here at Railtown,” says Dave. “It’s exciting to have the opportunity to not just meet, but constantly exceed, the expectations of an ever-changing portfolio of clients. Seeing and hearing our clients and their guests enjoy themselves while exposing them to an array of new flavours in both food and drink before makes all the effort worthwhile.”
Hailing from Kingston, Ont., Railtown Catering Event Sales Manager Ashley Szczepaniak was originally studying towards a psychology degree and working at a fine dining restaurant when she decided to switch gears and combine a love of event logistics and the food and beverage industry by enrolling in the Hotel & Restaurant Hospitality Management program at St. Lawrence College.
She headed west in 2010 and worked behind the bar in Vancouver before taking over as Banquet Manager at the Hyatt Regency Vancouver and then moving on to hold positions as Event Coordinator and Wedding & Event Specialist at Out to Lunch Catering and Savoury Chef Foods, respectively. Since August of 2014 she has played an integral role in the Railtown Catering family, working closely with a wide array of clients to provide unparalleled customer service from initial contact through the planning, set-up and take-down of each event.
As is the case with all her colleagues at Railtown Catering, Ashley shares the same strong sense of ownership, enjoys the collaborative atmosphere and views her role in the company as more than just work — it’s become her passion. From the first meeting she has with clients regarding their customized menu and specific event requests through follow-up and execution, she never forgets that a warm, friendly and personal approach, when combined with Railtown’s signature, French-inspired cuisine and superior service, can make the difference between a good event and one that is a truly outstanding and memorable experience from start to finish.
A graduate of Simon Fraser University’s Psychology program, Emily Cottrell has spent extensive time working in the hospitality industry as a banquet server, where she gained an appreciation for the fine art of logistics and customer service.
While new to the Railtown Catering family, Emily has plenty of experience dealing with the company in her previous job as an administrative and resource assistant at a local advertising agency, where she first became acquainted with Railtown’s signature brand of fresh, local cuisine and comprehensive suite of corporate delivery services.
In her new role, Emily joins forces with fellow Railtown Catering Corporate Sales Manager Hayley Okabe to custom-design menus and coordinate office deliveries for a host of regular clients throughout Greater Vancouver, and is committed to upholding the company’s high standards of service.
“I’m excited to join a team that’s already well known for its ability to create unique, and delicious menus while providing outstanding customer service from first point of contact through delivery,” says Emily. “Here at Railtown we always strive to find new ways to make every occasion a memorable one for each client.”
Originally from White Rock, BC, Hayley Okabe moved to Vancouver Island to enrol in the University of Victoria’s geography and environmental sustainability program in 2008 before returning to Vancouver and joining the Railtown Catering family as the company’s new Corporate Sales Manager in 2016.
A seasoned veteran in the field of customer service, Hayley honed her interpersonal skills in a variety of roles in the industry, most notably as host and eventually Front of House Manager at Milestones Inner Harbour in the Capital City for three years.
In her new position, Hayley connects her clients and Railtown’s classically trained chefs and team of drivers to help the company deliver a wide array of custom gourmet breakfast, hot and cold lunch menus and beverages to businesses across the city on a daily basis. She not only helps each client custom design their own unique menu featuring Railtown’s fresh, local and sustainably procured ingredients but ensures each and every order is a hassle-free experience from first point of contact through to delivery and pickup.
“I love the inspiring and creative atmosphere that is always on display at Railtown,” says Hayley. “Everyone is so passionate about their job and works with such enthusiasm, and I truly enjoy helping clients host unique and memorable events.”