Eating & Drinking

BREAKING NEWS: Chef Michael Hay Leaves Back Lane Cafe to open a restaurant in Prince Edward Country

Michael Hay, as photographed by Christian Lalonde for Ottawa Magazine's "Young Cuisine" feature

From the press release:

The restaurant, slated to open May 18, will feature a cuisine of place celebrating the rural history and terroir of Prince Edward County.

“I would call it ‘County Cuisine,’” says Hay, whose official title will be Executive Chef.

Hay is working with Healdspond 1830, a new farm brand based in Picton, Prince Edward County.

Healdspond 1830 focuses on sustainably-raised, grass-fed meats and seasonal produce. It has large flocks of sheep, herds of Angus and Wagyu cattle, heritage breed pigs and wild game.

The restaurant will source all of its ingredients from Healdspond 1830’s large acreage of crops, pastures, vegetable gardens, and orchards. Local, seasonal items will take pride of place.

This means some common items will not be found on Hay’s menus. For instance, there will be no seafood or citrus fruits.

The dried red berries of sumac bushes, common in Ontario, make a nice replacement for citrus, adds Hay.

Hay says he is looking forward to connecting with farmers and animals.

“Lots of people are thinking this way but I guess I’m just going to be totally immersed in agriculture – farms down the road and being able to meet the animals I’m cooking,” he says.

Hay will have some control over Healdspond 1830 animal rearing as it pertains to the taste of the final product served in the restaurant. For instance, he can choose to have pigs finished on acorns or underbrush. Acorns give fresh and preserved pork a nutty flavour.

The exact location of the restaurant is to remain a secret, for now.