Our Team

Offering you the highest level of professionalism and experience, Emelle's catering service staff will be there to make your event run smoothly so that you may enjoy time with your guests.

Emelle's service staff are all trained professionals with Serving It Right certificates, who can be hired to serve, bartend or be an on-site chef. Our service staff will arrive in traditional tuxedo-style uniform or dressed in a style appropriate to the theme of your function.

Emelle's is always looking for positive, outgoing and experienced catering staff to add to our roster. Please feel free to send in your resume to info@emelles.com

Mary Lee Newnham
CEO, Executive Chef

Mary Lee Newnham has an accomplished history as a highly-reputable chef and event planner. As formal education she has obtained a Bachelor of Commerce Degree and a Certified Management Accounting designation, as well as graduated from the Pierre Dubrulle Culinary School as an honour student.

Mary Lee has worked as a corporate, executive and private chef in a variety of restaurants, hotels, off-premise locations, yacht charters, convention and conference centers. As the executive chef for plaza catering and the atrium hotel, as well as cooking for such luminaries as Queen Elizabeth, Jean Chretien, Bill Gates, The Rolling Stones, Rod Stewart and Mel Gibson, Mary Lee has established herself as one of the premiere catering chefs in Vancouver.

Darren Upshaw
Head Chef

Darren Upshaw joined the Emelle's team in october 2003 as one of our catering chefs. He later took over our urban diner deli, showcasing his fresh flair. We were happy to promote Darren to sous-chef in 2005 where he quickly gained a loyal following for his smashing soups and delicious entrees. Now, as chef, Darren continues to WOW.

Darren had a rural upbringing, tending to a 10 acre farm in Nova Scotia where he gained his appreciation for "farm to fork" dining. He quickly realized that for him, life was in the city and after high school found himself in a local pizza parlour. Times were different back then, when "from scratch" was the only option. His love for food, cooking with only the freshest ingredients, and creating signature sauces started here. His travels then took him to downtown Halifax to work alongside Corado and Flavia who flew in from Milan to open Cafa San Marco, an upscale restaurant catering to professionals. Two years later he moved to an even bigger city. He found himself working with executive chef peter george at 360 Revolving Restaurant at the CN Tower.

After three years, the beckoning of the better weather of the west had him arriving in Victoria. For the the next seven years his career was as kitchen manager at Rebar, a funky well known vegetarian restaurant. He was a contributor to the very popular cook book inspired from the recipes at Rebar Rebar Modern Cooking.

Nicole Burke
Director, Catering Sales
Certified Events Coordinator EVC

Our award-winning director of catering sales, Nicole Burke, has been with the Emelle's team since may of 2001, and in the service industry since 1991. Prior to joining Emelle's, Nicole spent five years at Vancouver's premiere tourist attraction, Capilano Suspension Bridge and Park, where she was responsible for managing the restaurant and banquet facility, along with coordinating the events in all of their indoor and outdoor on-site venues.

Nicole's dedication to guest service and her consummate skill as a certified events coordinator have earned her awards from both the Bc Food and Restaurant Association (BCRFA) "Spirit of Excellence Award – Management", and the Canadian Special Events Society "Star Service Award".

In addition to her full-time commitment to Emelle's, Nicole has worked with Capilano College's Continuing Education department, facilitating special event planning workshops. She is also a past president (2005-07) of the Canadian Special Events Society (CSES), of which Emelle's is a proud member.

Jess Taylor
Operations Manager

​Sandra Singh
Events & Catering Sales Coordinator

Amanda Katz
Events & Catering Sales Coordinator

Ken Lee
Kitchen Manager

Meet our Kitchen Manager Ken Lee. Ken has spent over 20 years in the Chinese, Japanese and Thai fusion culinary world in B.C. and joined us here at Emelle’s in August of 2011. Ken was immersed in food scene early and as a youngster remembers helping his father make steamed dumplings. With that foundation, he has never forgotten the patience and love that goes hand in hand with cooking.

Managing Kamei Japanese Restaurant in his younger years and taking on further management challenges at The Chili Club Thai Restaurant on False Creek established firmly his dedication to the food and beverage hospitality industry. During his tenure at The Chili Club, it was nominated by Vancouver Magazine for best Thai Restaurant, every year he was there.

After the Chili Club, he was given a very different opportunity, to plan the foundation and kitchen layout for Abbotsford’s Mango Tree Thai Restaurant. With this new challenge came a new perspective, which provided him the motto he now lives by: never stop learning.

We are thrilled to have Ken as part of our team and continue to appreciate his fascination and passion to create new recipes and make our team environment fun & efficient.​

Jason King
Sous - Chef

Melissa Cameron
Pastry Chef Extraordinaire

Melbin "BEN" Sarabia
The Man Who Makes It All Happen!