Tag Archives: Nello Busdon

Rudi’s Famous Strudel

In Whistler today you have your pick of restaurants catering to all tastes, including many fine dining options. Unsurprisingly, the options were more limited in 1970 when Rudi and Merrilyn Hofmann’s Mountain Holm Steakhouse opened at Nesters. Later known simply as Rudi’s Steakhouse, it was an instant favourite often requiring reservations weeks in advance.

Rudi had trained as a chef in his home country of Germany and got his start in Whistler in 1969, working as the head chef at the Christiana Inn. In an interview with the Whistler Question, Rudi said, “When I was at the Christiana, I quadrupled the turnover. I was just serving different food than they were used to. In those days the general fare in ski areas was hotdogs, hamburgers, chilli.” At the time the Christiana Inn and L’Après were the main restaurants in Whistler. Seeing that there was a market in Whistler for finer dining, Rudi set out to start his own restaurant. He purchased Tony’s Hamburger Heaven, a late night eatery running out of a former Pacific Great Eastern railway tool shed, and the rest is history.

While it may not look like much from the outside, Rudi’s Steakhouse was the venue of choice for a fancy meal. Whistler Question Collection.

With appetisers including escargot, goose liver pate, prawns and scallops (’Coquilles Saint Jacques a la Parisienne’) all for under $6 a dish, flipping through a menu is likely to make anyone long for restaurant prices from the 1986 as their mouth begins to water (and when Rudi first opened in 1970 the prices were even lower). The main dishes include additional information to help diners choose. The 8 oz. Filet Mignon Par Excellence includes the claim, ‘You can cut it with a fork!’.

Nello and Jenny Busdon pose for promotional photos in Rudi’s Steakhouse with owner and chef Rudi Hofmann. Greg Griffith Collection.

With loyal customers returning again and again, Rudi’s became the venue of choice for wining and dining. Franz Wilhelmsen, President and Founder of Garibaldi Lift Co., could often be spotted in the Steakhouse. He did not hold back his praise for Rudi’s, saying, “I don’t think I ever had better food anywhere in the whole world.” It was a regular venue for events including the weekly Rotary Club meetings and birthdays, and they would hold an annual traditional European Christmas Dinner on Christmas Eve, featuring goose, dumplings and homemade Christmas pudding.

The glowing reviews were global. According to the August 1972 issue of Ski Magazine, ‘While Whistler’s nightlife would rate three on a one-to-one hundred scale, its feeding potential would rate about 92. The main reason is the Mountain Holm Steakhouse, known as Rudi’s because of its bearded proprietor, a master chef from Germany. Rustic, warm, personal; magnificent beef for $6.’ To cater to the demand, Rudi’s was renovated in 1974 to expand the lower seating area and increase the kitchen space, yet the 60 seat restaurant still filled up.

Rudi’s Steakhouse closing party in 1986, featuring left to right – Don and Isobel MacLaurin, Rudi Hofmann, Franz and Annette Wilhelmsen. Petersen Collection.

It has been argued that Rudi’s was more about dessert than dinner. Former local Bob Penner said in an oral history interview, “Rudi wasn’t famous for steak, he was famous for strudel. That was his undoing. The strudel came off of Rudi’s strudel press on Thursdays, and anyone who knew anything in the Valley was lining up on Thursdays to buy Rudi’s strudel. Rudi believed to have a good strudel you had to be able to read a newspaper through it and if it had any breaks he went into an absolute tirade.”

Despite the rave reviews, Rudi was unsuccessful selling the restaurant in 1977, and instead leased the building. This led to a rotating door of restaurants in the space – Vallee Blanche, Madame’s, Le Chalet. Eventually Rudi’s opened back up in 1984 to the excitement of Whistler locals, however, the changing times were hard on Rudi’s Steakhouse. The new town centre kept tourists in Whistler Village and increased competition, and the downturn in the economy meant fewer people were eating out. Rudi’s closed for good in 1986 but is still remembered fondly throughout the community.

Rudi’s was burnt for fire practice after closing in 1986. The next year Nesters Market opened on the same site. Whistler Question Collection.

This Week in Photos: February 8

You might have noticed that while the Whistler Question Collection covers the years 1978 – 1985 not all years are shown in This Week in Photos.  The simple explanation is that the photos for some weeks are missing, damaged or in the possession of the photographer.  We’re looking forward to April when we can start sharing more photos of 1978 and 1984!

1979

And they’re off! At the mass start of the Molson Cup race held in Whistler recently.

Whistler hockey players faced the Budget team on Wednesday night and made the front page of the paper!

The new sign at the White Gold Inn (better known today as Whistler’s beloved Boot and Shoestring Lodge) was recently damaged by vandals. After this picture was taken, it was further vandalized.

A red tag and bylaw notice posted on Whistler Vale buildings.

The children’s corner at the new Pemberton Library promises to be well used.

1980

You can’t really tell, but this was the brand new powder blue RCMP vehicle in the valley!

1924-style swimmer Grace at the Pemberton Teachers Frolic – though the costumes look great, what the teachers were up to is anyone’s guess.

Cross country enthusiast Nello Busdon carefully waxes his skis before heading out on the Lost Lake Trail.

1981

THE stop sign in Whistler Village – a newsworthy addition to town.

New Whistler pharmacist Neil Massoud at work in Whistler United Pharmacy.

The Sears catalogue store in Pemberton on the Perkins property that was used up until February 10.

Gay Parker-McCain with baby Dana at the ‘Well Baby Clinic’ with Public Health Nurse Marilyn McIvor.

Manager Rob Nelms stands behind the remodelled bar at Dino’s, now open for business!

1982

The official map of Whistler Village as of 1982. Can you tell what’s still to come?

Competitors are photographed twice in the Pacific Western ProTour held on Blackcomb Mountain.

Vancouver’s Hellenic dancers perform at L’Apres’ Greek Night on February 5.

Ken Thornton of Tapley’s Pub soaks up a few rays while catching up on a little news during Whistler’s recent sunny spell.

Dogcatcher Geoff Playfair who is having a busy time with the Whistler strays.

A snowy view of the Husky and Creekside.

1983

Wowee – it was a hot time in the old town with the swoons and tunes of Vancouver’s R&B All Stars who cranked up the energy level in Delta’s Stumps Lounge to maximum enjoyment last weekend.

A face from yesteryear – Scott Paxton, who worked at The Keg at the Mountain many years ago when it was located in Whistler Cay has now resurfaced at the new Keg as the official “bunmaster”. Paxton and fellow employees geared up for the opening night at The Keg Friday, February 4 for another era of Keg lovers.

Guy Labelle connects one of the power hook ups being installed in the overnight parking lot to make life a little more comfortable for Whistler’s RV visitors. While partial services are now available, full-service pads may be a long time coming.

Heading for the finish must be lot easier when you’ve got wings!

The Brandywine Inn display suite developed a bit of a list as it was being moved off its foundations February 3. Nickel Brothers house movers recovered the situation by jacking up the building and rearranging a wooden ramp which had collapsed under it. The house was enrolee to High Forest.

Mitch Sulkers, Snowcat crew, Blackcomb. Those who answered the Question’s weekly question had their portraits published, often with their occupation and neighbourhood of residence.

1985

Corporate Cup teams ran, hopped, slid and jumped through an obstacle course wearing snowshoes Saturday at Myrtle Philip School.

Ken Domries (right) shows Paul Grilles (middle) and Glen Mitchell how to operate the Whistler Volunteer Fire Department’s ladder truck. The $20,000 LTI pumps out 4,500 litres a minute of water and is usually operated by a five-man crew.

Whistler Mountain day skiers stand in line Saturday for refunds after the power to the north side lift system went out of commission. Inconvenienced skiers were given refunds, food vouchers and hot drinks while the mountain’s staff coaxed the lifts into operation again.

Grand prize winner, Paul Burrows (right), receives his pair of Blizzard Quattro skis from Nigel Woods, president of Coastal Mountain. Unfortunately, the caption for this photo failed to mention what the prize was for.