Katie Hayes of Upper Amherst Cove, Bonavista Bay, N.L. often wiled away her childhood days picking rocks to start her family’s new garden beds. Hayes and her husband, Shane Hayes, use the same beds today to grow produce for their family business. The Hayes’ own and operate the Bonavista Social Club in Upper Amherst Cove.
FROM THE GARDEN TO THE PLATE
According to the website, the restaurant and food production facility provide a unique experience of rural Newfoundland by harnessing established farm gardens, animal husbandry (the farming of animal livestock) and self-sufficient lifestyle presently at work in the area.
The restaurant’s centerpiece is a wood-fired oven, where breads are baked in the morning and pizzas are cooked during restaurant hours. The menu also includes seasonal soups, salads, pasta and seafood dishes.
Katie Hayes is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of Canada and a Red Seal Chef. Her father, Mike Paterson, owns and operates Paterson Woodworking, which is located directly beside the Bonavista Social Club. Paterson Woodworking built and renovated the building used by the Bonavista Social Club. The wooden plates, bowls and spoons used by the Bonavista Social Club are all hand-turned by Paterson Woodworking.
Katie Hayes has competed in culinary competitions representing the province and beyond. Her talents have taken her to Germany and Dubai.
She took time recently to answer questions about her lifestyle and business.
Did growing up in a farming environment peak your interest in a culinary career?
We always had animals and farms. But it wasn’t until I started travelling and went to school that I realized the value of being able to grow your own food and the luxury of having that. When I realized the value of it all, I decided this is where I wanted to be.
Tell me about your training as a chef.
I went to Holland College in P.E.I. I graduated 15 years ago. I loved it there.
Where has your career taken you thus far?
I came out of culinary school and I started with Jeremy (Charles) when he was at Atlantica in Portugal Cove and I worked with Brian Abbott quite a bit when he had his restaurants in St. John’s ... I did some managing at the Gypsy Tea Room ... I moved to Ireland for a year to cook and that’s where I met my husband (who hails from Dublin) ... I moved home and started at Raymonds with Jeremy (Charles) when they opened. I took maternity leave for a year and then we moved out here.
Was it always your goal to return to your roots in Upper Amherst Cove to run your own business?
That was definitely not in the cards. We were living in St. John’s. Shane was working at the Duke of Duckworth. So, he was in a pub and I was working late night at the restaurant. We were living in an apartment downtown and, after we got married, we decided we wanted to have kids ... and that’s what led us out in this direction.
Food is a pivotal part of Christmas traditions for people in this province. How does your family celebrate the season, food-wise?
We slaughter our lambs in the fall so a leg of lamb is always our Christmas dinner ... We have three kids and my parents are just next door. We enjoy cooking together.
The Bonavista Social Club is now closed for the season and will re-open in May. How do you spend your time during this period?
We are doing our butchery, and I also teach part-time at the College in Bonavista, the culinary program.
What is your hope for the Bonavista Social Club into the future?
We have 26 people on payroll ... We don’t plan on expanding, seat-wise ... but we have taken on a lot more weddings and caterings ... We just want to keep things simple and small enough that we don’t go in too deep.
Is there anything else you’d like to say?
We are so grateful for all the support that the whole area has given us. We feel blessed every day to be able to do what we love and to be able to eat from the land.
Note: Interview has been edited for length.
Bonavista Social Club Partridgeberry Bread Pudding
- 8 cups Rustiq Bread, cubed
- 4 cups whole milk
- 3 eggs
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 tbsp vanilla
- 1/4 tsp allspice
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 2 cups partridgeberries, frozen or fresh
Soak bread in milk until absorbed
Whisk eggs, sugar, vanilla, allspice and cinnamon until light and creamy
Fold egg mixture into bread and milk
Stir in berries
Spray 8”x8” or 9”x9” pan first then line with parchment paper and spray again (spray helps stick parchment to pan)
Bake at 350F for 45 minutes
To tell if it’s done, wiggle the pan, the pudding should no longer be wet and wobbly.