Station: Coffee with Ashley Lee
Ashley Lee is a self-taught chef, caterer, and event organizer at Bird’s Eye Cove Farm in Genoa Bay. We sat down to chat with her about what makes Bird’s Eye Cove so special, her favourite thing to do on Saturdays and how she accidentally got into the event and catering industry.
How long have you lived in Cowichan?
I moved here three years ago from Nanaimo.
What brought you to the Valley?
My husband got a job with the Timberframe company that built the barn at Bird’s Eye Cove.
What are you favourite memories of the Cowichan Valley so far?
Going to the Saturday Farmer’s Market in downtown Duncan. It has a nice long season and we have access to such great produce here. Also I love the proximity to the lake and ocean living here. In the summer I swim a lot.
How did you get into the event and catering industry?
I got into catering and cooking in general through a serious of accidents and referrals. Cooking and baking is something I’ve done as long as I can remember. My mother was a caterer and family spent lots of time cooking and spending time in the kitchen.
What makes Bird’s Eye Cove unique?
Bird’s Eye Cove Farm is special in my opinion because it has so much potential. We are a farm primarily, and everything we do is in order to make the farm profitable and help grow the business.
What is the biggest misconception about what you do out here at Bird’s Eye Cove?
People assume that when we cook it all comes from freezers and they’re always surprised when they find out that we make most things from scratch. Everything is sourced locally or from the farm. The chickens are raised here, the sauces, the mayonnaise, the pasta, everything is made from the produce here on the farm.
You organize a lot of weddings here, what advice would you give to brides?
Try not to do too much yourself. Hire a wedding planner and don’t spread yourself too thin!
What is your claim to fame?
Probably baking! I tend to lean towards the pastries. I make all of my desserts from scratch. I really like (baking) cookies. When they’re done properly there’s a lot of versatility in them. I’ve also been playing with French macaroons. They’re really popular right now and I love them.
What is your current passion?
I’m trying to utilize the new wood fire oven more. It’s a bit of a learning curve. I’ve been working on some new breads and I’m going to Portland next month to meet with a bread maker there. Right now that’s my main focus.
What do you enjoy most about what you do?
I love seeing people enjoy the food I create. Food is such a big part of life, it invokes memories and is a part of every holiday and special event. I love being a part of people’s special events, especially weddings. It’s very rewarding.
What does the future hold for you?
We plan on expanding on what we’re doing by adding more animals and finding more ways to turn what we raise and grow into product for the community and our clients through catering. Our entire catering menu is based upon what we produce on our farm.
What’s on your bucket list?
I’m taking a hip-hop class at Adagé. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do.
What advice would you give to people looking to get into cooking/catering?
The advice I would give to anyone interested in catering or cooking is enjoy the opportunities this profession offers, such as travel. This profession offers an individual many opportunities to keep learning and growing your skills. This is why I love what I do. There is always something new to learn.
— Eliza Faulkner