(Photo above, cropped, of Kyrn Stein by Dwayne Brown, loveOttawa. In full, below)
He honed his skills in Toronto under celebrated chefs Jamie Kennedy and Mark McEwan before heading home to Ottawa in 2013 to put his stamp on Social. Diners have flocked to his restaurant-lounge, drawn to food that is at once sophisticated and accessible. Oh, and delicious. Just ask restaurant critic Anne DesBrisay, who sang Stein’s praises in an online review a year or so ago.
But now the ambitious chef is on the move again, serving his last meal at Social on December 5. Get there for one last supper (or two) before he (possibly) heads to England.
We hear rumours that you’re heading to England to work at a two-Michelin star restaurant. True of false?
I’m hoping to go! I have a job offer at Restaurant Sat Bains in Nottingham, England.
Congrats! How did that come about?
It was pretty strange. I saw on Instagram that they needed a sous chef. I just threw my name in and didn’t really expect to hear back. But within 24 hours they emailed me and set up a phone interview, and then I flew over for a work interview.
When was this?
In September. I flew down for 10 days and worked 7:30 a.m. to midnight at the restaurant for seven of those days. That’s when they offered me the job.
That’s a whirlwind experience. What did you think of everyone at Sat Bains?
They are such a talented bunch. Sat Bain and his executive chef, John Freeman, are great and I would be working directly with them. It would be a dream come true. They’re amazing people and I think he’s one of the best chefs in that country.
Do you see this as another step in your career?
Definitely! When I talked to my Dad about the possibility of doing this, I said it was like a med student going to work under a top surgeon. That’s how I view this opportunity. These guys are creating dishes, not just following trends. They’re the trendsetters. It would be a thrill to experience a two-Michelin star restaurant.
Did you eat there?
His food is amazing and I got to try every dish on the menu.
What did you show Sat Bains when you were there for the week?
I think they mainly wanted to see how I got along with the other cooks. I’m 33 and the cooks are usually 18-22. They could see what I had already attained in my career — that I wasn’t just there to try to move up the ladder quickly. I have a good work ethic and want to learn.
So is the job a sure thing?
Not exactly. Right now I’m working on getting an Irish passport — my grandfather was Irish — so I can work freely in the EU. It’s taking longer than I thought, so if things take too long I know they’ll have to move on. But even if this job doesn’t pan out, I’m happy enough that they had me over and I got to try out for a week. It’s a great compliment.
When do you hope to head out if the passport comes through?
The end of January.
And if not?
If not, I’ll take some time to relax. Going to England is a big move and one I’m really excited about, but if it doesn’t work out I’d also love to do something here in Ottawa. If you know any investors, feel free to send them my way!
I know chefs never really rest. What are you doing for the rest of December?
That’s true. I’ve already talked to the owners of Hinterland [Wine Company] in Prince Edward Country, so I may just do some stuff with them and hang out in the County. I’ve also been talking with Jon Svazas at Fauna — it would be fun to do a few pop-ups with him. It would be fun to do collaborations with some other chefs during this off time.
So resting, but not resting.
Exactly. It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to take some time for myself and that’s important. I just want to refresh myself.