Growing up on a farm and cooking meals for her family were the primary influences that inspired Erin Stone to become a chef. She says, “I started cooking for my family when I was 11 or 12 years old. Most of the time it was to get out of doing the dishes. I just started out baking with my mum and it got more involved as I got older.”
Canadian Chef Profiles: Erin Stone, Stonesedge Kitchen, Whistler B.C
Chef Erin Stone takes culinary ideas from her world travels and combines them with local, sustainable, seasonal ingredients at Stonesedge Kitchen in Whistler.
Chef Erin Stone
The experience of tending the garden and looking after animals on the farm meant that Stone became aware of the origins of food and respectful of the work it takes to raise animals and tend crops as a child and she’s kept that respect ever since.
Traveling has been an important factor in shaping Stone as a chef. She was born and raised in New Zealand has made Canada her home for ten years. She says, “I’ve also traveled around Europe and picked up different flavours and different techniques. New Zealand was a good base for me to start because there’s a lot of fusion food there with the Asian influences and the Pacific Islands.”
A strong focus on local ingredients underpins Stone’s approach to food. She uses OceanWise seafood and ethically raised meats from Two Rivers Meats in Vancouver as well as a large amount of B.C. produce. As part of this focus, Stone also changes the menus seasonally. She explains, “We also change our menus with the seasons because it just makes sense. Produce is also cheaper when it’s in season.”
Hot Hot Hot Noodle Bowl: hot & spicy thai lemongrass tomato broth, red peppers, rice noodles, cilantro, mint & lime
In terms of her cooking, Stone says, “It’s comfort food with a twist. My inspiration is classic comforting dishes you might eat at home. One of the dishes we have right now is braised bison short ribs. I took the idea of a classic boeuf bourguignon, twisted it a little bit and made it a little more sophisticated than what you’d eat at home.”
The creative process starts with the seasons for Stone. She recently created a new winter menu and focused on heartier braised dishes to suit the colder weather. She adds, “Sometimes I get inspiration from a place I’ve traveled and the cuisine from that area. Sometimes I think of a traditional dish and either tweak it with a little fusion or make it a little more modern.”
Stone has built connections with local producers and suppliers after having worked in Whistler for some time. She says, “Now reps come by weekly and they’re always discussing new products that they might have in. I usually try to take advantage of those things.”
Duck Sheperd's Pie: Spiced roasted duck, Du Puy lentils, tomato ragout, kale, mashed potatoes, crispy duck pangrittata
The traits that Stone hopes to have as a chef are hard work and the ability to lead by example. She explains that she isn’t a chef who sits in an office all day and adds, “I’m always cooking on line and in the kitchen amongst it all. If people see me work hard, they’re going to want to work hard for me as well.”
The biggest challenge when it comes to building a kitchen team is keeping staff. Stone says, “It gets a bit tricky in Whistler because its a very transient town. You definitely need people with experience and it’s nice to see people who have traveled because they have more experience with different cuisines, but you don’t want someone who’s moved around too much and stayed at each place for only a few months at a time.”
Along with travel, Stone finds motivation in going out to eat dinner in her local area. She enjoys tasting what other chefs are creating and says, “You’re not going to recreate whole dishes but you definitely take flavour inspirations or ideas from what you eat. The internet’s a great tool as well these days because you don’t have to out and spend a lot of money on cookbooks. You can research a lot of things online and see what other people are up to out there.”
S'mores Parfait: graham cracker crumbs, dark chocolate sauce, white chocolate mousse, toasted house made marshmallows
This article is based on a telephone interview conducted with Chef Erin Stone on Wed. November 18, 2015 and recorded at that time.