Cor Rhode – a slice of Kitimat’s culinary history

I am still going to do a lot of cooking now that I’ve sold the restaurant.

After 26 years Cor’s Restaurant’s Cor Rhode has hung up his apron and closed the door on a famous chapter of Kitimat’s culinary history.

“It was just time – physically it’s a very demanding job. Chefs don’t have a very long life,” said Cor, adding he will now have time to work on his house, which he has neglected due to the demands of running the restaurant fulltime.

“I’m also looking forward to finally having time for my hobbies, for travelling and for community work.”

He said while he enjoys cooking and making people happy with his food, Kitimat and the Service Centre changing a great deal over the last few years hastened his decision.

“When I bought the restaurant it was open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The place would be packed. The Friendship Society would meet here and discuss their business.

“There were four or five gas stations, a bank, a bakery and a liquor store. Right now you hardly hear a car go by,” said Cor, adding that if it wasn’t for the support from corporations and local businesses he would have struggled to keep the restaurant open

“I could never have done in the city what I did here,” said Cor. “I will miss the social aspect of the restaurant the most.”

When he bought the restaurant in 1992 it was called Tina’s.

“I hadn’t even thought about buying a restaurant. Tina saw me one day and said ‘there’s the guy that’s going to buy my restaurant’,” said Cor.

“I never gave it a second thought – I stepped into it, took the bull by the horns and went for it.”

That is the same attitude which got him into the restaurant business in the first place.

“I started working in a restaurant when I was just 17. I knew I was made for the restaurant business, and that it was meant for me,” said Cor.

He also knew that he would end up in Canada, which he did, emigrating from Holland, armed with just a little red dictionary to help him learn English.

He arrived in Vancouver in 1970, determined to make it in the restaurant business, which was slow going at the time. When he heard about work opportunities in Kitimat, he moved his family here in 1980.

His involvement with the restaurant business in Kitimat before he bought Tinas included owning La Forestiere i’n Nechako Centre for three years and the Clover Patch on the corner of Kuldo and Haisla boulevards.

What followed after establishing Cor’s Restaurant was a quarter century of providing fine dining to Kitimatians, through the towns boom and bust periods and changing tastes and fortunes.

While focusing on dishes like his steaks, filet mignon and rack of lamb, for which the restaurant was popular, it wouldn’t have been as successful if it hadn’t been for his not-so-secret weapon – his sauces.

His sauce pot is never empty – it constantly gets topped up with fresh ingredients and kept simmering for days.

He admits that he has a great fondness for sauces, especially the forestiere sauce, “from the woods”, made with ingredients like bacon, onion, mushrooms and lots of red wine.

He will continue producing his sauces, this time at home though.

“I am still going to do a lot of cooking now that I’ve sold the restaurant – I enjoy cooking and making people happy with my food,” said Cor.

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