– Story by Lauren Kramer Photography by Lia Crowe
Chef Chris Shaften, has always been passionate about quality local ingredients and the power of food to connect those consuming it. In mid-June, Chris debuted his second eatery in Kelowna, Orchard Room, two doors down from Krafty Kitchen, his first restaurant.
“This one is a vegetable-forward restaurant with a large bar featuring cocktails and a craft cider beverage program,” he explained.
While the primary elements of the menu are vegetarian, not all dishes at the Orchard Room are meatless. The 30-seat eatery is open 3 pm to midnight and serves brunch on weekends.
In his early career, Chris travelled around Canada, working in kitchens from Victoria to Toronto and running the restaurants FARM and The Ranch in his native city of Calgary. Then came a reality show that changed everything.
In 2013, Shaften appeared on season three of the popular eight-episode TV series Top Chef Canada, which catapulted him to celebrity status.
“Top Chef got my name out there, enabling me to start preparing food for more exclusive clientele,” he reflected.
It also helped in pitching the idea for his first restaurant, Krafty Kitchen + Bar, to investors. As a result of his instant name recognition and the reputation he achieved during Top Chef, investors were keen to put their money behind his talent.
“I don’t know that I would’ve ever been able to gather investments and open Krafty Kitchen without Top Chef,” he said. “Because of that show, the fundraising process went easily and quickly, and I was able to realize my dream.”
Krafty Kitchen + Bar, a contemporary Canadian bistro, opened in August 2014 and the 90-seat restaurant has been successful ever since. In the menu, Chris focuses on Canada’s cultural mosaic for flavour inspirations. Brunch is served daily and on weekends the meal is “hip hop” themed, with 90s music playing in the background.
Chris Shaften’s Elevated Eggplant Salad
55 grams Dijon mustard
2 grams chili flakes
10 grams good olive oil
100 grams avocado oil
20 grams lemon juice
Salt to taste
Add all ingredients except oil to bowl. Slowly drizzle in oil while whisking vigorously to form an emulsion. Salt to taste and set aside.
Roughly peel four to five large eggplants, and cut into 1.5-inch cubes. Toss in oil and salt. Roast at 350 F for 30-45 minutes, until fully tender and lightly browned. Remove from oven. Dress with vinaigrette — use only enough to lightly coat the eggplant. Add fresh oregano and minced parsley to taste. Allow to marinate one hour at room temperature. Garnish with favourite feta cheese and serve.
Orachard Room website is here.