Canada's Chefs: Chef Kyrn Stein, Ottawa ON

by Krlmagi

At Ottawa's SOCIAL Restaurant and Lounge, Chef Kyrn Stein focuses on showcasing local ingredients in his creative dishes.

Chef Kyrn Stein says that he tries to keep his food simple, source local ingredients and let those ingredients shine. His dishes are focused on how the ingredients are flavoured and how those flavours interact with each other. The chef explains that he takes his inspiration from sources right down to his own dreams.

Chef Kyrn Stein
Chef Kyrn Stein
Rubicon Photography

Stein says that his early influences came from his mother and his grandmother’s cooking as well as the kosher bakery his family owned in Montréal. He says that he’d never intended to pursue cooking as a profession. In fact, he was studying mathematics in university and working in pubs in his spare time. A friend who was a Cordon Bleu cooking instructor encouraged him to apply to the Culinary Institute of America and that started him down his career path.

He cites a few different chefs who helped shape him as a cook. The first is Jamie Kennedy. Stein says, “He showed me the connection between organic ingredients and hoof to tail cooking.” Stein adds that all of the Colburne Lane chefs along with Kennedy showed him, “meticulous plating and a strict kitchen atmosphere that still played with food and was fun.”

Another influential chef for Stein was Mark McEwan. Stein says that McEwan taught him about, “volume and the business end of things.”

The final influence that he mentions is Ben Heaton who Stein calls, “a mentor and a best friend” and adds, “The Grove was a huge influence on me and having been able to be a part of the group that opened the restaurant was something that I will always remember.“

Simplicity and using local products is key to Stein’s approach to cooking. He says that living in Ottawa gives him access to most products within a thirty-minute drive. He says, “I want to let the ingredients to shine for themselves, to focus on delicate flavors and to let the ingredients complement each other.” He explains that he wants his dishes to be visually appealing and that taking care while plating is indicative of his style of cooking.

Lamb saddle - Vadouvan, belly daal, cauliflower, poppadum yogurt
Lamb saddle - Vadouvan, belly daal, cauliflower, poppadum yogurt
Rubicon Photography

Stein says that ideas come to him late at night, in bed. He talks about a Humboldt squid dish that he created and explains, “I was in bed tossing and turning and all of a sudden all these ideas just flowed forward – do I cook it sous-vide or with compressed cucumber and Hendrick's gin?”

After that, the chef says that he follows that initial inspiration with a process of reading, drawing, writing and researching to create a new dish.

His approach to sourcing ingredients takes in everything from other chefs, to Internet research on local farms as well as using contacts from his days of cooking in Toronto.

When it comes to managing a kitchen and other cooks, Stein says that a good chef needs to be calm and pensive. He says, “Don't overreact because this is a weird industry. I mean there are essentially seven people in a small hot room for up to seventeen hours a day and everyone reacts to things differently.”

Stein’s motivation as a chef comes from traveling, taking stages and eating at new restaurants. He adds, “It is important to go out for dinner and see what is going on – lurk in the kitchen!”

He adds that he isn’t afraid to ask how a chef is doing something because of the sense of community that has developed. He says, “We're here to help each other, not keep secrets from each other!”


Torched Albacore tuna, pomelo, yuzu coconut ice cream
Torched Albacore tuna, pomelo, yuzu coconut ice cream
Rubicon Photography
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Updated: 01/23/2015, Krlmagi
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Matt on 03/19/2014

I highly recommend checking out his cooking! Very talented chef.

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