Skip to content
Join our Newsletter

Whistler’s new community kitchen concept starting to take shape

Whistler ROCKS seeking permanent space and charitable status in 2024
wrocks-fundraiser
Attendees at Whistler ROCKS’ first fundraiser on Dec. 3.

A new community kitchen concept is starting to gain traction in Whistler.

A passion project of longtime local Natalie Kingi, the Whistler Recreate Our Community Kitchen Society (or Whistler ROCKS) held its first fundraiser on Dec. 3, bringing in $2,000—or about two per cent of the group’s overall target of $100,000.

“It had about 50 people there, and everyone seemed energized by the idea and vision,” Kingi said in an email, adding that attendees took part in a “chairlift pitch” contest in which they envisioned how best to sell the idea of Whistler ROCKS.

Even Mayor Jack Crompton was in attendance, and offered an “extremely clever” pitch of his own, Kingi said.

“We only need a few ears to prick up and say, ‘how do I get involved?’ and, ‘here, take all my money,’ (kidding),” she said.

Originally from New Zealand, Kingi has lived in Whistler for 15 years, overcoming all the obstacles that come with the territory along the way—whether that be learning to snowboard and mountain bike, navigating visas and citizenship, or dealing with Whistler’s tumultuous housing market… all while pursuing her own career in tech and raising a child.

“I was able to overcome all these obstacles, and want to make sure others can not only survive in this town, but thrive,” she said, of her passion for Whistler ROCKS. “I have determination and drive, and this gives me a great sense of purpose for this cause.”

On top of that, Kingi has seen many friends leave town for greener pastures over the years, whether that be Pemberton, Squamish, or moving back to their home countries, “and while there is little I can do to bring them back to Whistler, there is no reason I can’t help make it better for those who are still here,” she said.

To date, Whistler ROCKS and its four board members have connected with 195 people and groups, and have 36 “active volunteers” helping in various ways.

“We still have loads of community outreach to do, as I think we only scratched the surface, but everyone has agreed that there is definitely potential for a community kitchen in Whistler,” Kingi said. “This is giving us the fuel to keep driving forward.”

The society’s overall goal is to create a permanent place where anyone can come together to cook, laugh, and eat.

“Just like they did on Friends in Monica’s kitchen, or like going back to your parents’ for a Sunday-evening dinner, or cultures where you get together as a community on a weekly basis,” Kingi said.

“By having this permanent place, I think it’ll help to ‘recreate’ a sense of community in Whistler, as I feel like it’s slipping away a bit.”

Right now, the group is looking into two potential spaces—one in Tamarisk and another in Function Junction—but is unable to commit until it raises enough money to pay rent over the long-term.

“I know many businesses fail due to not understanding the complexity of commercial renting. My ideal space is Creekside and south, as not only is this area grossly underserved by hot food in general, [the community kitchen] is meant for the locals, and I want to keep it out of the village,” Kingi said.

“Right now, we are a small seedling looking for water (money), sunshine (energy) and nutrients (connections). An angel donor would obviously accelerate this, but if we need to take it step by step, we will. It’s just about tapping into the right resources, which is new to me and the board, so we still have a lot of learning to do.”

Looking ahead to 2024, Whistler ROCKS plans to continue its community outreach and look into potential partnerships, while also pursuing charitable status—an endeavour in its own right.

Anyone interested in getting involved can start by reviewing the society’s website at whistler-rocks.ca, reach out via the volunteer form, sign up for the newsletter, or email hello@whistler-rocks.ca.

“We have loads of resources in Whistler available to us,” Kingi said. “Don’t be too afraid/proud/scared/angry to reach out, as once you make that first step, the reception you’ll get is always warm and welcoming.”