Chefs in Canada: Kyle Rose, Revival House, Stratford ON

by Krlmagi

Chef Kyle Rose combines an intense focus on using only local and seasonal ingredients with a creative flair at Revival House in Stratford.

The culinary world found Chef Kyle Rose when he was only 13 years old. He had friends working in a restaurant kitchen and they got him his first job. He fell in love with the kitchen environment and he hasn't looked back since.

In terms of his influences as a young cook, Rose drew something from every chef with whom he cooked. He explains, "It would be hard to think of anybody specific because I’d like to think I take something from everyone I’ve worked with."

Chef Kyle Rose
Chef Kyle Rose

Having a true focus on using local ingredients is at the heart of Rose’s approach to food. The restaurant doesn’t serve any saltwater fish, instead they use local freshwater fish from Ontario. Similarly all of their proteins and the vast majority of their fruits and vegetables come from the local area. Rose explains, “A lot of what influences me right now is really focusing on trying to do seasonal, local cuisine honestly. A lot of people say they do it but don’t really go full bore into it.”

That “full bore” approach means that Rose has to be creative with the ingredients he’s got. In the winter, he can get down to using the ten vegetables that are available locally. He also does a great deal of pickling and preserving when he gets vegetables and fruit in the spring and summer so he’ll have them in the winter months.

Using every part of an ingredient is another part of Rose’s approach to food. He uses the example of the confit sweet potatoes that he serves with his duck dish. He says, “All the scraps from that perfectly round sweet potato that’s being confited goes into the sweet potato puree that we make.”

The restaurant also does charcuterie in house, so they bring in whole pigs and use every part of the animal from nose to tail. Rose tries to do this because whole, less processed ingredients are also more cost effective.

Cheddar and Black Swan IPA soup with a pretzel cracker
Cheddar and Black Swan IPA soup with a pretzel cracker

When it comes to his relationships with local suppliers, Rose has been lucky. The farmers in the area knew the restaurant was opening and began contacting Rose. He explains, “The opening got delayed by about a month or a little more. In that time, my phone was ringing off the hook and people were knocking at the door trying to get to me and talk about supplying us. They’re all great people who wanted to be part of what we we’re trying to do.”

Another aspect of his relationship with suppliers is the fact that their prices are reasonable. Rose finds that they don’t price gouge like a grocery store would for local ingredients. He believes this is due to the abundance of farmers in his area which keeps prices competitive.

Writing a menu for Rose starts with finding linkages between the proteins and the vegetables he has available. He starts with one protein and decides on the vegetable that complements it. For example, “In the spring time, we had some first of the season trout and asparagus was just coming up. Trout and asparagus go really well together so I paired them. What I’ll do is blow up the vegetable so we’ll have an asparagus puree and some pickled asparagus, grilled asparagus and raw asparagus. I’m showing variety on a plate with a single ingredient.”

Confit duck breast with sweet potato, kale and cranberry
Confit duck breast with sweet potato, kale and cranberry

The mixture of traits that a good chef needs begins with hard work for Rose. He’s in the restaurant working six and a half days a week. This plays into his appreciation for leading by example and motivating the staff through hard work. He adds, “I want to create a team atmosphere and do my best to ensure that I'm getting the best out of the people around me.”

Rose is looking for people with a high level of personal motivation when he hires new members for his kitchen team. He’s got a young kitchen staff and is young himself so he’s looking to give his team the chance to move ahead in a challenging industry. Rose explains, “A lot of people that we hired were people who have something to prove. We felt that they were undervalued where they were and I like the concept of everybody in a group having a high level of personal motivation.”

This high level of motivation extends to Rose. He doesn’t seek motivation from outside sources because he’s already driven to succeed and keep pushing himself forward from within. As he says, “I don’t have to find it anywhere. I think it’s just part of who I am.”

Revivalwurst with mustards, cabbages and potatoes
Revivalwurst with mustards, cabbages and potatoes

This article is based on an interview conducted with Kyle Rose on Oct. 22, 2015 via telephone.

Updated: 10/23/2015, Krlmagi
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