Chef Profile: Kirstie Herbstreit and Jody O’Malley

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by Andrew Coppolino

Jody O’Malley and Kirstie Herbstreit have owned and operated The Culinary Studio in Kitchener’s Belmont Village for about seven years. store front of the Culinary StudioThe business has grown as the interest in food culture has blossomed in Waterloo Region – but just as much, the blossoming food culture here has gotten a boost from the presence of The Culinary Studio too.

The kitchen and event space prepares a wide range of foods for their Monday to Friday lunch trade – that’s everything from wraps to meatloaf sandwiches to the classic bistro croque monsieur. There are also take-away items “from the fridge,” dinner-party pickup meals and cookie delivery.

However, The Culinary Studio is also about instruction and teaching people about food and the ingredients through corporate and team-building cooking classes, food events in and around the community as well as at the Studio, and small groups enjoying “dinner with the farmer.”

Both Red Seal-accredited chefs, O’Malley and Herbstreit have degrees from University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University, respectively. O’Malley is a graduate of the Stratford Chefs School, while Herbstreit got her culinary training at Southern Alberta Institute of Technology.

Together with their staff, The Culinary Studio philosophy – aside from preparing and serving delicious food – is based on teaching culinary technique and encouraging people to respect food but at the same time to help them open their minds to the possibilities that those ingredients hold.

Look for The Culinary Studio’s new food venture, now open at The Tannery: The Well Food Company features breakfast bowls like coconut granola crunch with yogurt, eight sandwiches and four lunch bowls such as Korean sweet potato glass noodles and Cobb salad with buttermilk dressing, along with afternoon sweets and corporate catering. Located on the second floor of the Communitech Hub. Open Monday-Friday.

Rapid-fire round with Chefs Jody O’Malley and Kirstie Herbstreit  

Explore Waterloo Region: Best thing you’ve ever eaten?
Jody O’Malley: Braised short rib, creamy polenta, sautéed kale.
Kirstie Herbstreit: My husband’s Cornish game hen ragout with homemade pasta.

Other career you could have pursued?
Floral designer. But I have no green thumb.
KH: Veterinarian. But I failed science.

Chef you’d most like to meet?
It’s cliché, but Julia Child.
KH: Edna Staebler.

Best footwear (for the kitchen or otherwise)?
My red Birkies.
KH: Havaianas from Brazil.

Favourite international food in Waterloo Region?
Bangkok Cuisine, Kitchener.
KH: Masala Bay, Waterloo.

Greatest failed recipe?
I try to block those out of my memory.
KH: “Healthy” muffins. Even my brother didn’t like them.

Something that gives you great pleasure?
Snuggling with my two kids in the early hours of the morning.
KH: Hitting my big brown couch after a long day.

A favourite teacher you’ve had?
John Bex, former pastry instructor at Stratford Chefs School.
KH: Wilfrid Laurier religion professor Peter Erb. Even he knew I was into cooking!

Where were you born?
KH: Kitchener.

Who would you like to cook for?
The pre-Chef versions of myself and Kirstie.
KH: My dad.

The thing you wish for Waterloo Region?
For people to have a better understanding of the great food we have here.
KH: More late night charcuterie and cheese restaurants and wine bars.

Go-to late-night snack?
Ice cream.
KH: Cheese and crackers. And pickles.

Dumbest purchase you’ve ever made?
Processed cheese.
KH: A $400 green coat. It looks like a Chesterfield.

Favourite city?
Dublin, Ireland and Edinburgh, Scotland.
KH: Calgary.

Would you describe yourself as sweet or savoury?
JOM: Savoury.
KH: Savoury.


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