– Story by Susan Lundy Photography by Don Denton
Nice to meet you, Katrina. Where were you born, and where did you grow up?
I was born in Victoria and raised on the Saanich Peninsula. I grew up attending local schools, and playing sports at Panorama Recreation. In fact, where I used to play hockey and get my skates sharpened is minutes away from the 10 Acres Farm now. Many of the people I grew up with on the Peninsula now have local businesses or are part of family-run farms that support Victoria. I have been fortunate enough to travel through Canada and to a few other countries, but when I come back to the island and drive along the Pat Bay Highway—past our communities and farms, looking out over the water—I feel so appreciative that this is where I am from and who I am representing.
What are a couple of the highlights of growing up on the Peninsula that have helped you in your career?
Honestly, I never realized growing up, or even when I started pursuing my passion for the culinary industry, how the Peninsula would later inspire me and my relationship with food, and how I would appreciate being raised here. A highlight for me is the schools I attended. They valued students’ interest in the trades and I was offered programs that helped me learn and build foundational skills for this industry. Another benefit was being surrounded by farmlands and local market stands—it normalized the availability of local products. Most people want to know where their food comes from and trust it was sourced sustainably—something we proudly demonstrate at 10 Acres.
Why did you decide to become a chef and where did you train?
My fascination with cooking started early on. I wanted to make recipes over and over until they turned out successfully. I was motivated to make something without instructions and understand the methods being applied. I honestly didn’t think of it as a career. I just liked the critical thinking that was behind food, and learned that it was fun to channel my competitive nature into cooking. I started pursuing the culinary industry in high school (at Stelly’s Secondary School), frequently looking for opportunities to be involved in kitchens. I continued with the professional cook program at Camosun College, while working in Brentwood, Sidney and then Victoria restaurants to become Red Seal certified by age 19. When I started at 10 Acres, I honestly didn’t know how important this concept of farm to table would become to me. I wasn’t looking for purpose behind what I was doing with food until I realized that a lot of what I have been surrounded by, growing up on the Peninsula, was something to value. I realized that the type of food I wanted to make, and the excitement I wanted to share with others, came from creating food using local ingredients. As I work my way up through different positions, I’m able to continue feeding my passion by connecting where I’m from, expanding my knowledge, and creating innovative dishes with seasonal ingredients.
What is the philosophy behind your food?
Our philosophy at 10 Acres is making food that represents our core values of local and sustainable farming, while demonstrating our attention to and care for quality. This means using fresh ingredients harvested from our crops and ethically raised farm animals from our own farm. What we can’t supply ourselves, we then source from other like-minded farmers, food purveyors and fishermen first. We compost everything we can, returning it to the farm, and creating nutrient-dense soil to use in our fields. Making our own products and choosing to use seasonally available ingredients is what inspires our teams to create innovative dishes and offer attentive service. I can see how 10 Acres’ philosophy motivates our customers and team, and I try to be connected and educate myself about how we can continue producing—or sourcing locally—the best products possible, because one of the amazing outcomes we get is great food!
How do you develop your menus?
We start by thinking about which season we are going into and what it has to offer. We look at which products will be ready for harvest, or which ingredients we have preserved that could bring something special to a new dish. We have a lot of diversity in our kitchen teams at 10 Acres, which means we can incorporate different cultures, techniques and unique flavours with our locally sourced ingredients. Overall, our menus are about building favourites that will bring guests back, and, at the same time, trying out new innovative dishes.
What is your favourite cuisine to cook ?
What I really like doing is practicing food preservation, like dehydrating and pickling. At our farm, we often grow large volumes of crops that we’ll use fresh. But to make sure we are not wasteful, we also need to find ways to keep anything we aren’t able to use immediately. This is also important in colder seasons, enabling us to supply ourselves with our farm ingredients when there is less available to harvest. I look at various cuisines and the styles in which food is preserved and how I could replicate something similar.
Where do your ingredients come from?
We have a diverse selection of crops that we grow at our farm. We believe in putting our energy into these crops rather than growing everything and having sub-standard products. There are many local farms that focus their fields on successfully producing one outstanding crop, and we like to support them because this also allows us to save our fields or greenhouses for our curated crops. For instance, we choose Silver Rill to supply our restaurants with corn thought the summer. We also work very closely with Berryman Brothers Farm to supply our fresh meats. And there are many island-based fishermen, from whom we source a variety of seafood.
When are you happiest at work?
Countless little things make me appreciate where I am and doing what I love, such as seeing the final outcome from raw ingredients into a finished dish and sharing it with my team. Being in the middle of a busy dinner service and seeing everyone working together, focussed on putting forward their best. When someone takes the time to help me develop a new skill and I later find myself doing the same.
When are you happiest outside of work?
I laugh at this a little, because I love combing through cookbooks with a cup of tea. But when I’m not investing my time in cooking, being outside—especially walking by the water, no matter how cold the day is—also makes me happy.
What is the best advice you can offer or have been offered on local food?
Connect. It’s about sharing knowledge and ideas. This is the best way to find new stores and suppliers and to learn about what the Peninsula and Vancouver Island have to offer. Building relationships in the community, especially at local businesses, and exploring what others are doing can be inspiring. You don’t need to make drastic changes to feel like you’re contributing and supporting. Replace one of your household staples with a similar product made locally. Not only will it taste great, but it will lead you to discover other favourites.
This story originally ran in PEARL Magazione.