Having worked her way up from behind the counters of cafes in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Chef Natalie Rosen is now Chef de Cuisine at Field Guide, an open concept kitchen restaurant in the city’s north end.
Chef Rosen is also a member of the Xenia Social Society, alongside Ceilidh Sutherland, Katie Tower and Nicole Raufeisen. Together, these women host immersive gatherings in non-traditional spaces to bring people together for a unique and cohesive experience centred around dining.
Find out how Chef Rosen’s been making this all happen, plus why it’s important to step outside of your own kitchen once in a while.
Right now, you’re the Chef de Cuisine at Northern Halifax’s Field Guide Restaurant. Describe where your culinary journey began and how it led to where you are now.
I was working in cafes from a really young age and I just happened upon a cooking job one day and fell in love. I didn’t want to do anything else, so while cooking in the cafe, my favourite restaurant, Field Guide was hiring. I thought I’d give it a chance, applied and worked my way up from being a cook with no experience to being the Chef de Cuisine here at Field Guide with a brief stint at Blue Hill at Stone Barns in New York.
The concept behind Field Guide is bridging the gap between the kitchen, chefs and guests through the presence of an open concept kitchen. How has this differed from your previous kitchen experiences, and how does it change the approach to your day?
I’ve always worked in open kitchens and I always will. I think it’s the best way to ensure that the customers are the happiest they can be. You can see on their faces as they’re eating your food what their reactions are. It also definitely makes it so that everyone in the kitchen stays really calm and clean at all times. I love that in my kitchen so it works great for us.
Field Guide also has a big emphasis on using ingredients from local farmers and suppliers, plus stocking local craft beers. What are some of your favourite Halifax components to use when developing new dishes? Do you take craft beer flavours and elements into account when crafting these creations?
I love using any fresh seasonal vegetables and meats. The meat we get here in Nova Scotia is raised really well and not to mention, it’s super delicious.
Occasionally we do take craft beer flavours into account. There’s one dish on the menu specifically, our Pork Taco. It has been on the menu since the very beginning and we use the North Shore Lagered Ale from Tatamagouche in this dish as it pairs beautifully.
Describe how you utilize spices and seasonings in your kitchen.
Since we have an emphasis on local cuisine, we have to rely pretty heavily on dried spices during the winter months. This means that we have a lot more braised meats and well-cooked vegetables that take a lot of seasoning and time because things just aren’t as fresh.
When you’re not behind the line of Field Guide, you work as a member of the Xenia Social Society, inspired by the Greek goddess of hospitality. Describe some of the activities you do with the collective and why you think more chefs should be involved in these types of outside-work opportunities.
We are four women who try to empower each other to create unique experiences for the people of Halifax. There is not a lot of opportunity for people here to experience things like pop-up dinners, although they’re becoming more common. So, essentially, we do these pop-up dinners plus events.
I think it’s super important to have outlets like this because, for me, working day-to-day in a kitchen, although I get to be creative, I don’t always have complete control over what I’m doing. Working with new people and ingredients in new spaces sparks creativity for me. Also, the people I’m working with and I think it’s a really important part of a healthy kitchen culture to collaborate with other creatives.
What are some other community initiatives you love, or would love to get involved in?
I really love Hope Blooms, they’re right around the corner and are a youth engagement and empowerment initiative. One of their programs is focused on culinary, where youth learn to grow their own herbs, become entrepreneurs and sell salad dressings made from those herbs.
What can we see in the future coming from Chef Natalie Rosen and Field Guide?
Field Guide has been here for over five years and we’re going to keep on providing exceptional food and cocktails to our guests. Hopefully, that keeps them happy. For myself, I’m here for the time being and hope to open a restaurant in the future.
For more about Chef Natalie Rosen, head to ClubHouseForChefs.ca.