Everyone knows that the best parties always end in the kitchen. With our series, Kitchen Party, we’re sitting down with Feast On Chefs to get to know them, and the local foods that inspire them, a little better.
This week, we’re sitting down with Martha Borys, Pastry Chef at the Lancaster Smokehouse, to talk about her absolutely delicious pies.
The Lancaster Smokehouse
So, you’re making pies at a BBQ joint. How did that happen?
Tim and I, being siblings both in the food industry, have always had this idea that we should have a project or business together. So, when I was looking for something new it seemed like the right time.
I came in to start baking bread products and any sweets so that everything could be made in house at The Lanc. One weekend I had extra apples, so I decided to just make a few pies for the restaurant to sell as a special and it sold, so why not continue? I love making pies and my previous job I was making pies daily too.
I also think pies are the dessert most strongly associated with southern food, so it really fits with the restaurant. This has also been a test to see if adding a bakery to the company is feasible. It was the idea Tim and I had been discussing before I entered the team. So that’s our next exciting step!
So, what made you become a pastry chef?
I studied pastry at George Brown College, and have been professionally baking for about 5 years. After I graduated University, the job market wasn’t great and I was a bit lost on what I wanted to do.
Tim, my brother and Chef at The Lanc, had gone to GBC. I enjoyed baking at home; so, on a bit on a whim, I applied for the baking and pastry program. I figured it would give me an idea of whether or not I wanted to pursue it as a career or keep it as a hobby. Fortunately, I loved it! It’s a tiring job but it’s very satisfying and it’s exciting trying new recipes and thinking up new flavour combinations. There’s routine but also areas for creativity and you’re always learning.
Where were you before The Lanc?
I’ve worked at a few different restaurants and a bakery that are in the area, but I definitely preferred my time at a bakery. The Lanc is the best kitchen I’ve worked in! It’s the happiest, with the kindest owners. The Corrigans (and Tim!) have worked hard to create a great working environment. It’s rare to find such employers. Definitely brought back my excitement for what I do.
What’s your favourite kind of pie – to make and to eat?
I’m the annoying person who gives an answer and then immediately changes their mind. Too many to choose! Banana cream is my favourite decadent pie. It just feels sinful eating it but in the best way. It’s especially delicious if there is a dark caramel added. Apple pies are nostalgic for me being the dessert we usually ate for family Sunday dinners… And I adore the warm comforting flavour. So let’s say it’s a tie between those two. Though in a month my answer could change.
Are you using any locally grown stuff in your pies? Where’s it from?
I started making pies at the end of fall so I haven’t had a chance to use much local produce. We have an awesome produce supplier/ farmer (100 mile produce), so he got some Ontario apples for me when I first started. I’m definitely excited for summer fruits. I know he’s going to find the best product. Ontario fruit pie season is the best! Just add a few ingredients to the fruit and let them do their thing. They’re so delicious already.
When you’re not making totally amazing pies at Lancaster, what are you cooking?
Unfortunately, I lack skill and confidence when it comes to cooking. I usually try to make dinner from baking. Like quiche. So quick — especially if you’re like me and freeze extra pie shells. I bake bread and make a simple soup.
I’m basically a child who needs a sugar hit, so I like to make cookie doughs, scoop and freeze them. When my craving hits, I bake off one or two cookies fresh. And then force down some vegetables. There’s a reason I’m on the pastry side of The Lanc!
Tell me a little about Kitchener/Waterloo. What’s your perfect day off in the KW look like?
Kitchener/Waterloo is going through some exciting changes. I’m a homebody, so my outings are usually low key. Going out for coffee and a pastry is exciting for me. If I want the best pastries in the city, I’ll go to Ambrosia on Saturday. If I want a bagel, I go to City Cafe. If I want to spoil myself, I look at yarn to crochet at craft stores. Meeting up with friends, I like the board game cafes.
Lately, I’m particularly in love with a local spot that has the best pupusas, Pupuseria Latinos. Really everything they make is insanely delicious. I also love Bao sandwich bar. There’s a couple good Korean spots downtown too. I have an unhealthy love for jajangmyeon.
Obviously, The Lanc as well. It’s a place I ate at regularly before I joined. Fried chicken may be humankind’s greatest accomplishment. I love comfort food.You just leave feeling happy. Which is the ultimate goal of every restaurant!