Words by Carolina Novotny | Posted April 17, 2017
In many ways Katie Israelson is and isn’t the type of person you would picture working in a BC backcountry lodge.
Online she’s known as Katie Izzy of Katieizzynutrition.com. Her website is sleek, clean and colour-coordinated much like the food she prepares. The successful small business owner has found a niche as a holistic nutrition consultant and food photographer in a crowded Vancouver market. So what would make this talented, driven, young entrepreneur leave the city behind for a hospitality gig with CMH at a remote lodge, literally, in the middle of nowhere?
The answer is a complex one.
One may guess it has to do with her pedigree – the last name Israelson carries some weight in mountain communities across the Rockies. Katie’s father was a warden in Jasper National Park and Katie herself was born in the park. She started to ski at the age of two and was taught by her dad, who was the head of ski patrol at Marmot Basin at the time.
The mountains were bound to be in her blood and working for CMH runs in Katie’s family. For decades, family members have worked at either this lodge or that lodge, although up until recently the allure of living a remote mountain life was a path she had yet to take.
Katie’s path took her in another direction. She graduated. She travelled. She became a licensed nutritionist. She became conventionally successful. But after two years in the city, the Jasper-born mountain native began to miss the Rockies. Craving a return to nature, she headed in a new direction accepting a job as a house assistant at CMH Adamants.
“Looking back now after my first day heli-skiing here, I immediately thought, ‘why did I wait so long?’ admits Katie with a laugh. “It’s been really fun. You can’t find the energy that is up here anywhere else.”
The lifestyle isn’t for everyone; working at a backcountry lodge can be intense. You are isolated but you rarely have a moment alone. You spend up to three weeks being on every day and working with the same crew of roughly 20 people. Sure you get an influx of fresh faces as visitors come for their five to seven day stays, but the core staff remains the same. The days are long; Katie starts working at 7am and finishes at around 10pm each night. Split shifts are the norm.
But the intensity seems to suit Katie. “I feel like I have fallen into stride with it quite fast because all of my friends are either guides with CMH or have worked for CMH before. I feel very comfortable here,” affirms Katie.
What makes it sustainable for the talented, young go-getter is that she has been able to marry her passion for food and photography with lodge-life. Roughly once a week, she takes an hour of her break to practice her art and continue growing her photography portfolio. “For me it’s a way to express myself creatively so I will take an hour or so of my afternoon off to do a shoot but the light has to be right- that’s the biggest thing.”
The result is a series of beautiful photographs that capture the gourmet meals produced by the chefs and bakers at CMH Adamant Lodge. “Everything is a work of art on the plate,” describes Katie. “I could take pictures of everything but, because of lighting, you can’t just stand in the kitchen and take a picture of the plate and have it look good. There are more factors that come into play.”
Whether Katie recognizes it or not, there is as much artistry in her photographs as the stunning plates laid before her. And with time to pursue her passion for photography on the side, remote lodge-life seems sustainable for this down-to-earth young woman.
Though Katie was a Vancouverite as recently as November, she seems to have found her new home at CMH.
“A remote lodge has definitely stolen my heart.”
Photo gallery: Images of lodge cuisine captured by Katie. More images can be found at @katieizzynutrition via Instagram.