Ask the Expert with Chef Emma
Here at Pineridge we are SO lucky to have such a talented team, who are all experts in a variety of fields. Without our experts working hard behind the scenes to create beautiful meals, coordinate weddings, bake delicious desserts, furnish homes, harvest and work in the gardens and so much more, Pineridge Hollow would not be what it is today! We pride ourselves in our people and thought it would be fun to share some of their expertise and showcase what makes them so great.
To kick things off, we've lined up an interview with our Chef, Emma Molaro. Emma's journey with Pineridge Hollow started nine years ago and we are so lucky to have her. She is passionate about incorporating farm-to-table in all of our menu items and is always coming up with new ideas to continue to grow Pineridge Hollow's Restaurant.
Without further ado, here is our interview with Chef Emma!
Q: To start things off, let's talk more about you. What is your cooking journey? How did you get to where you are today?
A: I started at Red River College at age 17 and then finished schooling in Nova Scotia, where my family is from. There I worked in a fine dining restaurant in Halifax called The Press Gang, where we won best fine dining restaurant in the maritimes that year! That was such a cool experience because we were such a young kitchen with so many talented people! I learned a lot during my time there and still, to this day, consider my co-workers there part of my family! I moved back to Pineridge Hollow 9 years ago and fell in love instantly. In the kitchen here, I met some of my best friends and also my soon to be husband! When I had the opportunity to come back to Pineridge Hollow, I jumped at it! I am forever grateful to be a part of this special family. I cannot wait to see what new growth and adventures are in store for Pineridge Hollow!
Q: We love the Beet Chips! How many beets do you use in a day?
A: Our restaurant goes through about 100lbs a day in beet chips. Sometimes more on the weekends! They are definitely a crowd favourite!
Q: What is your favourite thing about cooking?
A: When I first started my culinary career at 17, I was interviewed on Breakfast Television and was asked the same question. What I love is that my answer has not changed! With cooking, I love that I am always learning and there will never be a point where I'll know everything. I am constantly learning from studying, experimenting and of course from my very talented staff!
Q: What are your pantry staples?
A: My pantry staples are:
- Sea Salt: I always have a sea or kosher salt on hand as it is best for seasoning, and infusing new flavours.
- Sriracha: I believe that this is a staple in most chefs' kitchens... it's the best hot sauce to add to anything and everything!
- Chick Peas: I find that quick and easy dishes can be made with this staple. Some of my favourites are hummus, salads, or a crispy chickpea snack!
Q: How do you come up with your menu items? What do you use an inspiration?
A: I love all things Farm-to-Table or even better 'Regenerative Farm'-to-Table! We are literally so lucky to have our own farm at our fingertips with Oak Knoll Farm. We plan the year and menu items based on all of the amazing products grown at the farm! Features are based on seasonal items so that we can showcase those unique and delicious flavours. I also love that we can educate our guests and staff on cool, innovative items that are being grown at the farm. Last year, I fell in love with a pepper called habanada. It has all of the amazing flavours of a habanero but none of the spice!
Q: What is your favourite dish that you have created at Pineridge Hollow?
A: I think that we have some of the best fish tacos in town! The combination of our pineapple slaw and chimichurri is pretty killer! I do love our salads as well! Our greens come from the farm and our dressings are also infused with flavours from the farm. The basil mint vinaigrette on our watermelon salad is so tasty and our now signature haskap citrus vinaigrette is worth the trip out here!
Q: What is your favourite go to meal?
A: When I am at home, my favourite quick, easy and healthy meal is this Veggie Burrito Bowl. It is perfect to throw together after a long day at work because we always have these items at home!
Chef Emma's Veggie Burrito Bowl
- Whites beans
Q: How do you minimize food waste in the kitchen?
A: One of the great things about Oak Knoll Farm is the guiding principle of regenerative farming. All of the food scraps from the kitchen get brought back to the animals to eat at the farm in order to continue the cycle, therefore minimizing waste. The main idea of regenerative farming is to leave the earth better than we found it!
Q: What do you love most about working at Pineridge Hollow?
A: I am so grateful to Pineridge Hollow for allowing me the opportunity to have the platform and freedom to try so many new things for menu development and workshops! Meeting all of the new guests and regulars has been so wonderful as well.
We definitely learned some fun things after our conversation with Emma and hope you have learned a little something too! We are so SO lucky to have her on own team and are excited to see what other delicious meals she will come up with.
Keep an eye out on our Instagram page to see which one of our experts we will be sitting down with next!
Want to learn even more of some of Emma's tips and tricks? Emma is hosting a Cooking with Emma workshop at Oak Knoll Farm on August 18th at 6:00pm. You will explore the gardens and pick out your own tomatoes and basil to make delicious bruschetta! Come + learn from one of our very own experts!