Here we will introduce you to the young, passionate entrepreneurs behind some of the products on our shelves. These are the people who are helping to shape the way we eat with their new and innovative products.
Katherine Hall, Executive Chef
At Hall’s Kitchen we believe in healthy, handcrafted vegetarian foods that are made with fresh, wholesome ingredients of the highest quality and prepared without the use of chemicals, preservatives or additives. We recently launched a new and unique line of vegan soups and stews that are doing very well in many specialty food and health food stores around Toronto and the GTA. All of our soups and stews are made fresh, are GMO free, gluten free, dairy and yeast free.
Each one of our products is also carefully made by hand, not machine, and is slow cooked in small batches in stainless steel soup kettles.
Where did you start out in the food world?
I did my apprenticeship at George Brown in Toronto in the 80’s and my first job was at the Ramada Inn. I spent 3 years at the Ramada where I worked through all the different kitchen stations including saucier, garde manger, pastry, butchery, banquet service etc. After that, I took a position with The McGill Club in Toronto as saucier and soon afterwards became Chef de Cuisine for the Accor Group – a European hotel chain (eg. Novotel). With the Accor Group I had the opportunity to train in France and then held Executive Chef titles at several major hotels, resorts and restaurants in southern Ontario.
What inspires you to do what you do?
I think that the aspects of plate design, menu and recipe development feed the creative side of my personality and knowing that people enjoy eating the food I’ve worked hard to make for them, feeds my nurturing side. Being a chef is a very satisfying career for me, it always has been. With soup in particular, they are heart warming, comfort foods. When someone is sick, people will bring them soup. There is something very healing and therapeutic about a hot bowl of soup. I also like how so many different flavours can be layered together in just one soup or stew dish.
Why make vegetarian soup?
We originally started with chicken in our Bangkok Curry Coconut soup actually, but found that the shelf life was considerably less with meat than without meat. Meat can spoil quickly and to be honest, after all the processed meat scares this past year with the listeria outbreaks etc. we just didn’t want to work with meat. I’m a “flexitarian” not a vegetarian currently, but I can see myself becoming a vegetarian in future.
Fresh vegetables are just so much cleaner and easier to work with. People can add their own meat to our soups and stews if they want. It’s a fresher way to eat in any case. And, now the vegans have some more interesting options to eat!
What has been the biggest struggle or obstacle you’ve had to overcome in order to get your product onto shelves?
I think the biggest struggle was finding the right space to set up our production kitchen. It took months to find the right space and it was incredibly frustrating! It was like shopping for your first home all over again. We finally found this great space in the west end with lots of light, high ceilings and lots of artists as well as other small food companies and caterers around. It’s the perfect creative space for me to work and get inspired!