Where I work: Justin Floyd

Field Guide’s chef aims to cre­ate el­e­vated, un­pre­ten­tious food.

The Coast - - FOOD + DRINK - PHOTOS AND WORDS BY JES­SICA EMIN

WHO HE IS

Justin Floyd is a chef. It’s some­thing he has worked at, stud­ied and now takes pride in, but it wasn’t al­ways like that. “I’ve been cook­ing for a decade,” he says. “In the be­gin­ning it was just work, I didn’t see it as a ca­reer.”

But mov­ing to Hal­i­fax from Quis­pam­sis six years ago changed his per­spec­tive. Go­ing from low-level cook­ing jobs to work­ing be­side sous-chefs Eric Schultz and Joe MacLel­lan at EDNA pushed him to­wards be­com­ing a chef.

The years of line-cook­ing and greasy spoons taught him a lot, even what not to do in kitchens. Now that he’s com­mit­ted to the ca­reer, he reads and tries to learn as many worldly tech­niques as he can on his own time.

“When I gain an ap­pre­ci­a­tion for some­thing,” Floyd says, “I get ob­ses­sive.” I like to eat.”

WHERE HE DOES IT

For the last three years Floyd has worked at Field Guide. He started as sous-chef along­side chef and co-owner Dan Vorster­mans, who gave him a greater un­der­stand­ing of how to run a restau­rant, from man­ag­ing staff to cre­at­ing dishes.

For a lit­tle more than a year, Floyd has been the chef at Field Guide and has had cre­ative con­trol of the menu while stay­ing true to the roots of the restau­rant: “We’re unique and based around in­gre­di­ents first.” He scours the farm­ers’ mar­ket ev­ery week for new in­spi­ra­tion, and the menu comes to­gether from there.

The day-to-day can pull Floyd in many dif­fer­ent ways—from food prepa­ra­tion, to restau­rant main­te­nance, to er­rands—but it’s the cre­ation of dishes that he finds most ful­fill­ing. Too of­ten, he says, food is made to look beau­ti­ful, but falls flat: “I try to keep my dishes un­com­pli­cated, I use three to five com­po­nents… and find a bal­ance us­ing min­i­mal, sim­ple in­gre­di­ents—that’s the food I like to eat.”

STAY­ING IN­SPIRED

Grow­ing up, Floyd’s ex­pe­ri­ence with food wasn’t fancy; he had busy par­ents and ate his share of casseroles and meat and pota­toes. It wasn’t so much the food that he loved, but what that sim­ple food did. “See­ing ev­ery­one sit down and eat to­gether was more im­por­tant than what we were eat­ing,” he says.

In his down time Floyd reaches for com­fort food. If he’s spend­ing a day off with his part­ner, he’s likely to stop by Sy­delle’s on the Bed­ford High­way for a smoked meat sand­wich, a cheese­burger at The Chick­en­burger or visit his other favourites 9 + Nine Chi­nese Cui­sine and Beaver Sailor Diner. He’d find more in­spi­ra­tion at a hole in the wall in South Amer­ica than a Miche­lin star rated restau­rant any day. “Re­ally good food, the food that brings peo­ple to­gether, doesn’t need to be overly com­plex,” he says. “And at Field Guide I want to of­fer el­e­vated food that’s un­pre­ten­tious.”

“I see my­self grow­ing with Field Guide,” says Floyd. He’s thank­ful for the group of young own­ers— To The Ta­ble Restau­rant Group, who also own High­way­man—for the trust they’ve put in him. “They’re slowly be­com­ing a force in the culi­nary scene and I want to be a part of that. I jumped aboard the right ship.”

Beef ten­der­loin carpac­cio

with oishi, vine­gar and chill­ies, sun­flower shoots,

peanuts and onion

Beer and molasses braised beef brisket with roasted squash

and pick­les

Mixed wild mush­rooms with chanterelle broth, hakurei turnip, choy, fer­mented choy puree

and kombu pow­der

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