Chef de Partie Catering is a private catering company with commercial kitchens in the heart of the downtown Saskatoon business district. Owned by Chef Heather Bekar-Schulte and specializing in creating high-quality dishes with fresh, local ingredients and uncommon flair. Heather and her passionate team cater to local events, corporate parties and weddings, they also produce amazing pastries and build one-of-a-kind wedding cakes. In their latest article Trusted Saskatoon Caterer Chef de Partie Catering & Events share their unique tasting room experience!! In this article we share an interview with Heather about how she has responded to the hardships facing her business in 2020.
In April of 2020 Heather, owner of Chef De Partie , was interviewed by Saskatoon Star Phoenix
. 2020 has been a tough year for Heather and all caterers around the globe as Covid 19 shut down events and gatherings - in this interview that took place in a Friday Heather shares her experience.
YXE Chefs at Home: Heather Bekar-Schulte
Normally on a Friday morning, the space would be bustling with cooks prepping food for a busy weekend. The dishwasher would be swishing along, knives would be chopping, and cooks would be bantering. But all one hears on this late March day is the unmistakable hum of the walk-in cooler kicking in.
Chef Heather Bekar-Schulte is here in her new business, which had its grand opening on March 7, right before everything changed so abruptly. Like so many others in the hospitality industry, Heather has had to lay off her staff. The sadness in her voice is unmistakable as she takes us back to that day earlier in the month when she got news that everything had to be shut down indefinitely. Weddings and other jobs that were booked have all cancelled or rebooked for next year.
Heather has pivoted her business to doing only pickup and delivery of healthy, chef-prepared frozen meals. She’s also offering a Fish and Chips special every Friday. What was just supposed to be for Good Friday is now a regular feature due to the overwhelming response. Saskatonians love good fish and chips. No doubt she will continue to come up with creative culinary offerings as this season of uncertainty continues.
Heather proudly shows us around the storefront of her business — a charming tasting room for private parties of up to 12 people. The shelves are stocked with local products that can also be ordered online. Honey, jam, coffee, tea, flour, lentils, eggs, meat, fish, baking and more are available for those of us who want to avoid the grocery store lineups.
The beautiful wooden table is tastefully set with ceramic plates and wine goblets. She can’t wait to see it full of happy diners once again. This part of her business is also a love letter to her family, with heirloom pieces decorating the bright space. Woven baskets, egg crates, butter churns and honey cans all tell the story of Heather’s Ukrainian heritage.
Find out more about the tasting room in the article we wrote about the grand opening in Feb 2020
Heather is so proud of this history, and for this reason alone she just can’t give up her business during these unprecedented times of COVID-19. Hard work, determination, and perseverance run through her veins. She’s got no choice but to keep going.
Normally we would visit Chef Heather at home, but her new business is like her home away from home; she’s still here an awful lot, working on marketing and planning for the future as much as she can. She’s preparing two Italian flatbreads for us today — a family favourite. As Heather works the dough and tops the flatbreads with sliced purple potato, herbs, and spices, we chat a little about this and that.
R: What is your favourite Saskatchewan ingredient to cook with?
H: Berries. Highbush cranberries, Saskatoon berries, tiny elusive wild blueberries, sea buckthorn berries. I love them all and I use them everywhere — sweet, savoury, sauces, baking, dressings. It’s all great!
R: What is your guilty pleasure grocery store item?
H: Dark chocolate bars. I usually grab two in the checkout line. I eat a square or two every night when I’m making my tea.
R: If you only have 15 minutes to eat, what do you cook for yourself?
H: Eggs and toast. Good, hot food ready and eaten in 10 minutes — it’s my go to. Some butter and salt and tons of pepper and I’m happy.
R: If you could cook for anyone famous, who would it be?
H: If I could cook for anyone out at that harvest table in our tasting room, it would be my dad. I want to show him how my culinary career has come full circle. When I started out I craved adventure and worldly flavours, and now all I want is great local food and a taste of home. I want to feed him a wonderful Saskatchewan supper in that tasting room surrounded by our farm heritage.
R: Did anyone inspire you to become a professional chef? How/why did you enter the culinary arts?
H: My dad; he was a farmer, so he was always home, and was a Ukrainian, so he did a lot of the interesting, traditional cooking bringing down the food traditions from my Baba. He was also very proud of producing nearly everything our family ate growing up on the farm, our own beef and our huge garden. Also I watched a lot of the Urban Peasant growing up. James Barber’s comfortable, down to earth style was very inviting to me. I entered the culinary program immediately out of high school in 1994 here in Saskatoon at SIAST when I was 17 and thoroughly enjoyed it, soaking it all in, and haven’t left the field since. It was also a great sense of pride to me that my daughter Maggie entered the Culinary Arts program exactly 25 years later at the same school last fall.
R: Anything you want to say to other chefs and business owners who are in the same boat as you?
H: Reach out to your support system. Call your friends, family — anyone. Let your emotions out — then take a long bath or shower and take care of yourself, sleep and eat. Try not to mentally isolate or self-medicate. This too shall pass, and remember, chefs are flipping resilient.
• Saskatoon StarPhoenix
The Chef de Partie family is committed to the collaborative growth of local partnerships in the food, farming and artisan community of Saskatchewan.