Chef Stories: PK Bodnar

In Lodge Life, People
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Words by Morgan Dinsdale | may 2, 2017

Born and raised in Burlington, Ontario, PK has the classic east coast skier story. Skiing from age four on “east-coast-ice” and the small slopes of Ontario, he had grand dreams of moving out West in search of real mountains. Luckily, his other great passion, cooking, would compliment this dream perfectly. After earning his Red Seal papers, he packed his knives and skis into his station wagon and drove to Banff, Alberta.

Landing his first job quickly after relocating, PK began working at Banff’s Rimrock Resort Hotel in the fall of 1997. “I lived in Banff for four years, working at the Rimrock every night and skiing 100+ days a season at Lake Louise,” he recounts. “When I was moved from the main kitchen to their fine dining restaurant, which had been awarded four diamonds for several years running, I found my passion and technique for desserts growing.”

His work under the direction of their head pastry chef prepared him for his career with CMH. Though he wouldn’t know it at the time, a twist of fate would have it that his sous chef and good friend at Rimrock would be none other than Guy St. Hilaire, who today is the head of CMH’s Food and Beverage Program. Guy advised Paul to apply for a pastry position with CMH and in the winter of 2004/2005 PK began working for the world’s largest heli-ski company.

Photo: Pastry Chef and skier PK Bodnar creating delicious desserts at the lodge.

“I haven’t looked back since,” he says of his 10+ years working behind the pastry bench at CMH. “When I first started I saw it as an opportunity to get in some crazy good skiing from a helicopter in the middle of nowhere. What I ended up finding was a group of people and a lifestyle with whom I fit like a glove, into the embrace of a family that has nurtured me – as a chef and as a person – ever since!”

In a place where staff and guests alike are driven by a passion to be out in the beauty of the mountains, it’s no shock that this chef with a passion for the slopes found his calling. The immense pride for his job spills over into his smile, into his pastries and into every conversation you have with him.

Photo: I’m living my dream! I’m living at a remote mountain lodge with my best friends, experiencing the best powder skiing in the world and baking food that makes me incredibly proud to serve – PK Bodnar

“Being a chef for CMH is quite unique within the cooking industry. I don’t really know of any other job where there is so much freedom to follow your own path,” he says of his cooking theatre, which seems to mirror the freedom CMH has given his skis to lay tracks upon rarely skied mountainsides.

“We work as a team and support each other but we can bring our own personal style into our food. For me that means bringing my mother and grandmother into my pastries and my love for home baking that produces simple, delicious, satisfying tastes.”

Over the years he’s worked at almost every CMH lodge and the unequivocal truth remains that he’s still having a lot of fun out there! “I’m living my dream! I’m living at a remote mountain lodge with my best friends, experiencing the best powder skiing in the world and baking food that makes me incredibly proud to serve. It doesn’t get much better than that eh?”

Photo: PK shredding deep pow (dressed as Santa) during the holidays

More on heli-skiing at CMH here.