Meet Chef Miriam Echeverria—and learn about the meals for the mind she creates at Dimensions Algonquin Highlands
We are pleased to officially introduce our Executive Chef, Miriam Echeverria.
Miriam joined Dimensions after a career of more than two decades, working in Mexico and in Canada. Most recently, in Toronto, she was Head Chef at acclaimed Leslieville French restaurant Greta Solomon’s and previously as Head Chef at the iconic Yorkville Italian restaurant Lunita.
During the pandemic, Miriam took an intentional break from the restaurant industry, which is notorious for its high burnout rates and toxic work culture, in pursuit of sustainable work-life balance and new avenues for exploring her creativity. One such venture was creating her own lines of pickles, soups and compotes. She is excited to apply her culinary talents in deeply meaningful ways at Dimensions.
When Miriam learned about Dimensions Retreats, the project immediately resonated for her. “One of Dimension’s beliefs is connecting with communities,” she explains. As a co-founder of non-profit organization Cheffing4Good, Miriam has for the past five years expressed her commitment to community building through collaborative fundraisers. Cheffing4Good dinner events showcase the wealth of talent and cultural heritages of women in Toronto’s restaurant industry, as well as raising money for women- and LGBTQ2S+-serving charities. In that spirit, Miriam recently hosted a culinary event for her new community in Haliburton, to support a charity for Indigenous survivors of residential schools.
Miriam is also keen to contribute to people’s well-being and support their psychedelic healing experience, and she works closely with the clinical team to provide the optimum dishes and ingredients for every stage of a guest’s retreat. “Dimensions is all about healing—healing with nature, plant medicine, and holistic modalities—and of course our food plays a big part in making all this possible.”
“I’ve learned from our clinical director, Donald Currie, that mushrooms are good for your brain function, and so on the day of a Plant Medicine ceremony, we try to incorporate mushrooms into one of the dishes,” says Miriam. The chef forages as a hobby and has identified golden chanterelles, reishi, chicken of the woods, shrimp of the woods, yellow foot, and turkey tail on our property. “I have more photos of mushrooms on my phone than of anything else,” she says, laughing.
“Many mushrooms have properties that protect brain health and the immune system, and we know that when you go to sleep after ceremony, their healing properties work within your mind, and your thoughts become clearer—it’s almost like a vitamin for your brain.”
Miriam also harnesses the immune-boosting and anti-inflammatory properties of berries, such as raspberries, strawberries, and blackberries. “They’re so good for you at any time but especially after Ceremony Day, because they help to cleanse your body,” she explains
Menus are always created around our guests’ retreat schedule and dietary specifications. Before Ceremony, for example, Miriam holds back on spices, so meals are gentle on the stomach. And after Ceremony, she provides “munchie foods,” such as nuts, and chocolate made with cocoa nibs and Lion’s Mane powder—a mushroom extract that supports immunity, mood, and brain function.
As a rule, Miriam keeps meals low-sodium and sugar-free. To make her delicious desserts, she sweetens with small amounts of maple syrup, honey or agave syrup. Minimizing food waste, in these times of climate crisis, is a guiding principle too. “We use scraps from vegetables to make stocks or ferments, and we turn vegetable and fruit peels into powder, so we can add flavour and texture to other dishes,” says Miriam.
Our Executive Chef has committed to never repeating a dish from the dinner service—it keeps the kitchen team creative and means return guests are continually surprised and delighted.
One of Miriam’s favourite Dimensions dishes thus far?
“We did a beet salad with a fermented currants dressing and garnished it with bell flower greens (campanulla)—a wild plant like baby spinach. Presentation-wise it looked amazing. The dressing was very, very tasty—a combination of sweet and sour and salty that complemented the freshness and crispness of the bell plant. It was very simple, but the flavour combinations and textures in your mouth were…” Miriam makes the sound and gesture of an explosion.
“The food we serve here is very honest,” she adds. “When it comes to welcoming our guests, for us, it’s always an opportunity to be creative and get inspired by nutritious and flavourful dishes from other cultures.”
One of her goals is to support farmers and local businesses in Haliburton. “This area is very, very small… we are all connected, and we all now know each other,” says Miriam.
While food is a crucial element of the holistic Dimensions wellness experience, so is the act of eating dinner family-style. “It is so important for us that our guests can connect from day one,” explains Miriam.
“They’re going to be sharing experiences that are very meaningful, so community dinners help make guests feel safe, that they belong, and that they’re welcome here.”