Get to Know Chef Jay: The Food

Welcome to part 2 of our blog series introducing Chef Jay Nutt. If you already know Jay, you’ll probably learn something new here, and if you don’t know Jay, well, you’re in for a treat! Today’s questions are all about the food!

Get to Know Chef Jay: The Food

What’s the most rewarding thing for you to cook these days?

I’m a big fan of comfort food. If I can do comfort food in a fine dining style, particularly in the winter time, I’m a happy man.

Most underrated ingredient?

Potatoes. I worked in PEI, so no surprise there. We did a chocolate potato cake for dessert – made with mashed potatoes. It was fabulous.

Best culinary tool?

Simple chef’s knife. And good shoes.

What is your food philosophy? How has that changed over the years?

I think my philosophy has been pretty consistent over the years. I’m a long standing fan of local and slow food. My presentation style has changed – I’m not trendy but I stay current. I like exploring new cuisines and flavours, but I’m not always a fan of what’s termed fusion cooking. I like a sense of authenticity.

Where do you like to source your ingredients?

Locally as much as I can! McLean Berry Farm is wonderful. They are a next generation farming family – smart, good with resources, savvy business people and good farmers. I use Wren Lane Honey, local cheeses, local meats. And of course our own Viamede produce and meat – especially our turkeys and pigs!

What go-to dinner do you cook for friends or family?

In the winter it would be veal osso bucco. The first time I ever had it, it was cooked by my mother in law, who was one of the best cooks I’ve ever known. It gives that sense of comfort and warmth and family and it has a sense of place, as well as a memory of time and people.

Get to Know Chef Jay: The Man

We are so excited to welcome Executive Chef Jay Nutt to the Viamede Resort and Mount Julian team! We’re big fans of Jay, but we thought you might like the inside scoop on who he is, what he’s all about, and what he’s going to be cooking.

This is the first installment in our four-part interview series with Chef Jay. Stay tuned here for the sizzling details each Friday.

Get to Know Chef Jay: The Man

Where did you learn to cook?

I went to school at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT), in the 2-year culinary program. After graduating, I apprenticed at Jasper Park Lodge, one of the Fairmont family of resorts. I then worked at the King Edward hotel in Toronto, under Chef John Higgins. I spent a year at the Prince Edward Hotel in Charlottetown. Between all that, I’ve done cooking classes, worked at winter festivals, even a hunting lodge. I’ve travelled a lot – Paris, Barcelona, Venice, San Francisco, Vancouver, New York – all the places you like to eat. From 2003-2016 I was the owner and operator of In a Nuttshell and Nuttshell Next Door Café, nearby in Lakefield Ontario.


What did you want to be when you were little?

Smokey the Bear! But it turned out it wasn’t only me that could prevent forest fires. As a young person I wanted to be a forest ranger/outdoor education person. That has always remained my non-professional passion – camping, canoeing, adventuring etc.


Tell me about your culinary journey to Viamede?

One of reasons I went to Jasper Park Lodge was that they were a high level resort in Canada with a Canadian-born and trained Executive Chef. It was my first exposure to eating local, highlighting Canadian products and flavours. I carried that inspiration with me through my career. I recently sold the Nuttshell business, thinking I might take some time off. During the last few months I’ve been working on a cookbook with my wife, Jennifer MacKenzie, a food writer and recipe developer. And it turns out I was just in the right place at the right time – Viamede’s existing forest-to-table philosophy and focus on eating local is such a great match.


What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned working as a chef?

Learning to be patient, developing communication skills and learning to trust my staff.


How do you keep pushing yourself creatively?

I think it’s just something that some people have. It’s not a conscious thing for me, I just take the ingredients that are available and find ways to blend them into new combinations and flavour profiles. Having my wife in the industry gives me an opportunity to bounce ideas around. We actually work in opposite directions, which makes for really interesting results – Jennifer often has to come up with a concept and pitch it to an editor, develop the recipes, and then make sure they work. As a chef, I go into the fridge or market to see what’s available, and, using my skills and training, create a product that can be put on a menu.


Thanks so much for your time today, Chef Jay!

Keep your eyes out for the next installment in our interview, Get to Know Chef Jay: The Food, on Friday, January 27.

First Steps of a New Culinary Journey

Chef Kevin McKenna has decided to venture out, launching a project of his own. We are proud of the great work we have accomplished together at Viamede Resort and wish him all the best.

In the interim we welcome Jay Nutt as Executive Chef. Jay is a long-standing friend of the resort and the recently retired chef and former owner of Nuttshell Next Door Café. Jay has cooked in hotels and resorts across Canada, focusing on local foods and building community partnerships. He is also a cookbook author and food columnist, writing with his wife Jenn.

Viamede Resort will stay the course with our focus on incredible forest-to-table cuisine and Jay’s demonstrated commitment to local foods will be showcased here.

In the coming months, Viamede will hire a new chef for the long term who will build on our renowned forest to table philosophy. We are looking forward to what 2017 will bring!