– Words by Susan Lundy Photography by Darren Hull
Born and raised in the small town farming community of Punnichy, Saskatchewan, Amber Roy is the operating partner and chef under the Station Hospitality Group. She has been with Mid-Town Station since its purchase in August 2019, and prior to that worked at The Train Station Pub.
Why did you decide to become a chef?
As a small child growing up on the farm, I always had a passion for being in the kitchen. Seeing my parents and grandparents harvesting the vegetables and raising our own chickens always interested me. It was as easy as running out to the garden to grab veggies for dinner or collecting fresh eggs every single day. It never dawned on me I was eating organic produce and free-range chicken or eggs until I moved to the city. Everyone in my family is an excellent cook, and learning the basics with them inspired me to want to learn more. I took the leap and decided this is what I could do every day. It’s not just a passion, hobby, or life skill; it’s something I gravitated towards with the artistic mind as well. Becoming a chef allowed me to be creative with flavours, colours and presentation.
How does the menu at Mid-Town reflect the restaurant’s theme?
Mid-Town is located in the Landmark District of Kelowna. This is the heart of many businesses that have great connections and enjoy a social atmosphere. The restaurant leans towards a modern industrial vibe with a touch of class and warmth. The room itself inspired me to create dishes that would lend well to having quality and healthy food on your lunch break, sharing appetizers after work, or even coming in for a date night. We specialize in creating a comforting and approachable experience, not just with the food but with our service as well.
What is Mid-Town’s specialty—food and drink?
We are known for a few items on our menu. Guests come back time after time to enjoy our crab cakes and MTS Burger. As for our specialty beverage and one of my favourites—it’s our Old Stationed. This is a take on an Old Fashioned cocktail, where we have introduced our own boozy cherries and curated syrup made from a mix of honey and sugars.
What’s the one ingredient you can’t live without?
Vinegar! There are so many versions of vinegar that can take a dish to the next level with just a dash or two. Vinegar can enhance flavours, balance your palette, or, in the foodie science world, make your pie crust super tender and flaky. The one vinegar I can’t live without is my own red wine vinegar, harvested from the grapes in my backyard. Just a splash on fresh greens, in a braised beef dish, or simply on roasted potatoes makes my mouth water.
What would your last meal be?
Hands down, my mom’s cabbage rolls. I grew up with a Polish and German background, and at every special occasion or request, my mom would make the most amazing rice and beef cabbage rolls. The sour cabbage gives the perfect tang to the whole dish, and I just can’t get enough of it.
What is the best recent food trend?
Fermentation is once again popular, same with canning and preserving. We saw a huge climb in this technique during the COVID-19 lockdowns, and it allowed us chefs to support our local farmers. We were able to buy ingredients that farmers had on hand, even though we were not able to use them in the kitchen due to pandemic dining restrictions. I think a lot of us fell in love again with this way of preparing food.
What is a good simple piece of advice for pairing wine and food?
To keep it basic, pair the wine with the sauce in the dish. Rich sauces go well with rich wine, delicate sauces go well with light wines. This might sound cliché, but drink what you like. Everyone has a different palate and reacts to wine differently.
What do you love about cooking?
Cooking to create an experience that is memorable. Cooking is my way of showing gratitude and love for others.
When are you happiest at work?
When I see the success of others growing in the position they are in. Putting in the effort to be the best they can be and developing into something even greater.
When are you happiest outside of work?
Golfing with my husband as much as possible makes me the happiest. It’s our way of relaxing and enjoying the Okanagan scenery.
Check out out the menu and more at Mid-Town Station Kitchen + Drink’swebsite here