Guerin’s journey to Camrose
Born and raised in Peterborough, Ontario, Kyle Guerin grew up cooking with his dad. “When Halloween came along, we made candy apples, and it was so much fun. When Christmas and Easter came, my dad went all out with food. That is how I fell in love with cooking. I always did it with him.”
In high school, Guerin was fortunate enough to enroll in a student-run restaurant. Guerin learned the essential skills of cooking, such as knife use, sauteing, deep frying, and other techniques. Then Guerin went to the Culinary School of Niagara where he completed a two-year co-op program in culinary management.
“After my first year, I travelled to Moraine Lake Lodge. It was my first time travelling. I knew I wanted to travel and gain experience.”
Guerin noted that a career in the culinary arts is different from other careers. He emphasized that if you are moving from job to job every year, you will be viewed as having an unstable work life.
“In this career, it’s looked at differently. You want to go from place to place every year because when you are young, you want to gain as much talent as possible under the guidance of the best people possible. So you have to travel. That is what I did.”
When Guerin finished school, he worked as an apprentice at the prestigious Vineland Estates Winery. Vineland holds a four diamond rating, earning them a spot in the top 20 best winery restaurants in the world by Access Magazine.
“I apprenticed under phenomenal chefs in one of the most internationally trained kitchens in the whole region.” Vineland was a place where fine food and high standards were essential.
“There were stringent rules. It is like what you see when Gordon Ramsay is yelling and calling someone a cow. In some kitchens, you can get away with that. I was once singled out, yelled at and almost fired for wearing a blue shirt under my chef jacket. One time, I showed up with some stubble on my chin, and I can barely grow any facial hair even now, when I am almost 30,” said Guerin.
“I was inspected by the executive chef and told that I had two options. Either leave and never come back, or go downstairs to use the razor and shave off the stubble without any shaving cream.”
Guerin acknowledged that many people would give up. However, he said that if you are passionate about something, you have to look at the challenges and obstacles with a different perspective. “Learn from it and grow as a person.”
After finishing his apprenticeship at Vineland, Guerin travelled and started working under Toronto City Line and Canada Food Network chef Massimo Capra at the Rainbow Dining Room, located at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Niagara Falls.
After a year of working with chef Capra, Guerin obtained a position as a sous chef at the Elk Ridge Resort, Saskatchewan’s only four-star resort and golf course. “When I was there, I worked under chef Michael Card who is now the executive chef of the Camrose Resort Casino,” said Guerin.
“In between my time there, I was fortunate enough to serve as a personal chef for Prime Minister Stephen Harper, former NBA Commissioner David Stern, the Jonas Brothers, 90210 star Jason Priestley, Judge Judy, and Canada’s first astronaut, Marc Garneau.”
After two years he resigned and travelled back to Peterborough to open his first restaurant, Cravings Bakery and Cafe. Guerin’s restaurant has won numerous awards and was recognized by Canadian Living Magazine as serving the best butter tarts in Canada. After this success, Guerin began investing and co-owning several other restaurants.
In 2014, Guerin was asked to be a member of team Canada in the Expogast Culinary World Cup in Luxembourg, where he scored the silver medal competing against 3500 chefs from 53 countries.
“That was perhaps my biggest achievement; I thought it was something totally out of reach, especially because only nine people are allowed to compete for team Canada, and I thought to myself, how the hell am I gonna get into that,” said Guerin. “I worked hard, got noticed, made the team, and had the pleasure of competing with them.”
Guerin ended up in Camrose because he came to visit chef Michael Card, and then met Kayla.
“Love brought me here. There came at a time where I knew I was young, but I also noticed that I had accomplished what I wanted to accomplish,” said Guerin. “I told myself it was time to focus on life and settling down. I was only supposed to be in Camrose for a week, which then turned into a month with WestJet luckily screwing up my flight, which solidified my relationship. I decided to leave everything I had in Ontario and come to Camrose and make a name for myself here.”
Guerin now works at Hart House Wine and Tapas, located close to campus near downtown. He hopes to take a different approach to tapas (small plates). “Hart House creates an atmosphere for guests to have an experience,” said Guerin.
Hart House has elements that are appealing to students. “We have great beer on tap, all local, and from microbreweries. You can share a large meal and you may spend $12. You do not have to order a main course; you can come as a group, share a meal, have a good time and not break the bank.”
From the sauces to the pastries, Hart House serves food that is all made from scratch by Guerin. “I put in the hours slicing beef and doing essentially everything. It is through this process that I have managed to succeed, because I care about the experience. Not just the food on the plate, but the ambiance.”