We’d like to take a look at some of the up-and-comers in our Ottawa Food and Beverage scene. These are the people to watch when it comes to local and delicious fare.
Among the Ottawa culinary community’s brightest rising stars, Kathryn Ferries possesses both a strong list of achievements and a tangible love for the local food scene. Since moving here from Winnipeg with her family at the age of 10, Ferries has adopted Ottawa as her hometown.
Raised with a love of food, cooking and family recipes, Ferries enrolled in the Grand Diplôme program at the Ottawa branch of Le Cordon Bleu to learn both savoury cuisine and pastry arts. During her final year of the program, she worked at Signatures, the Cordon Bleu’s in-house professional restaurant, under chef Yannick Anton. Ferries formed a friendship with Anton, who mentored her as her career began. Graduating as valedictorian in 2012, Ferries set off to find the best kitchens to further her growth.
She undertook a stage (cooking internship) at Marc Lepine’s Atelier with the intent of meeting pastry chef Michael Holland. “I wanted to work for him to really expand my pastry knowledge,” says Ferries. She had the chance to do just that as Holland’s right hand when he opened Holland’s Cake and Shake. Ferries worked there for a year and a half, learning not just pastry skills but also the challenging ins and outs of running a small business.
Her next move was back to Atelier, which many consider to be Ottawa’s most creative restaurant.
“I came on in late October of 2015,” says Ferries, “right before we won Gold Medal Plates in Ottawa, then Kelowna. It was a really great time to join the team.” Initially nervous after working pastry for so long, Ferries found her feet in the kitchen and fondly recalls her time there. “I got my first dish on the menu after only three months. It was a really unique environment to grow in, using ingredients, techniques and equipment that just aren’t available in other kitchens.”
When Jason Sawision, then sous-chef of Atelier, left to open his own restaurant, Ferries went with him, but not before taking some time to stage around the southern United States. Returning in 2017 for the opening of Stofa, Ferries was eager to put what she’d learned in her travels to use.
In addition to her work, Ferries competed in the Jeunes Chefs Competition of the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs, taking the silver medal at the national level. In 2019, she was promoted to sous-chef at Stofa, taking a more active hand in leading the kitchen.
Later that year, Ferries was accepted to compete in the San Pellegrino Young Chef competition. Her competition dish, a ballotine of rabbit with fennel, chanterelles, and mustard greens, got her through to the North American finals. “It was a whirlwind,” says Ferries, “my first year entering and I was headed to New York.” She enlisted her old mentor, chef Yannick Anton, to help train her for the competition.
“We cooked the dish over and over, in different kitchens where I didn’t know where anything was,” Ferries says. “He even put it on the lunch menu at Signatures for one service, so I cooked about 60 of them in one afternoon. It was invaluable practice.”
Ferries won the award for Social Responsibility for her dish, impressing a panel of judges who look for sustainability, ethical sourcing and an overall lack of waste. “I was shocked at the time to win the award, that’s just how I like to cook,” says Ferries. “I used the whole animal, all the vegetable scraps went into the stock, I tried so hard not to waste anything. I don’t believe in just using the ‘best’ part of the animal.”
Shortly after returning from New York, Ferries had a recipe printed in a cookbook produced by the International Women’s Forum and hosted a sold-out pop-up dinner at Corner Peach, the first time she had ever cooked a whole menu of her own creation.
View this post on Instagram
In March 2021, Ferries took over the duty of planning Ottawa’s annual International Women’s Day charity collaboration menu. “I had been a part of it previously,” says Ferries, “and I think this event is so important. West (De Castro), who usually organized the event, gave me her blessing and I ran with it.” Over $10,000 was raised for Immigrant Women Services Ottawa, and Ferries hopes to continue supporting both that organization and other non-profits in the future. “I want this event to be even bigger next year,” she says, “and I want to be a part of it for as long as I can.”
What does the future hold for Ferries, who has already accomplished so much?
“We’re excited to get back to hosting guests indoors at Stofa … maybe planning some off-site events or wine dinners to really offer some special experiences to our guests,” she says.
“Further than that, it’s hard to say. The pandemic has really changed the industry. I want to own something in the future, but I can’t say for sure whether it’ll be a restaurant or a shop. Things are really different now.”
One thing’s for sure: Whatever the business is, it will be in Ottawa.
“This city has such great culinary talent, but it doesn’t get the recognition of Toronto, Montreal or Vancouver,” says Ferries. She likes where things are going, with road closures and more patio space for neighbourhood restaurants. “It’ll hopefully encourage people to dine out more often, and more chefs to stay in Ottawa.”
Ferries’ love for Ottawa always shines through, both in conversation and in her food: “This city is amazing, and it’s home.”