Nestled on the edge of the Halifax Common, Studio East offers a unique blend of exquisitely crafted Asian fare, the best of local craft brew, and vibrant, original cocktails, tailored to match the bold flavours of the East. We give farm-to-table new meaning; each dish uses fresh, local, ethically-sourced ingredients, provided in part by our own farm Kisik Ridge Estates. Our menu celebrates an ambitious, yet approachable Asian-Global fusion that strives for the highest standards in sustainability, while providing an unforgettable experience with flavour.
“When Pigs Fly…”
A delightful pig with wings and a smile is their playful yet defiant mascot. Ray and Saronn believe in going beyond the bounds of what is expected, both in their restaurant and their farm. True to Saronn’s Chinese & Cambodian roots, the pig represents luck, health, and prosperity. And a pig that flies? Well, what could be luckier?!
Maybe it was the challenge of maintaining a fully eco-friendly business model, while tending to the demands of a busy restaurant, but they found in the flying pig a source of motivation, rather than a cheeky figure of speech. Instead, they took those cheeks and made pork ramen, won Best New Restaurant, and continue to “pack the house” since the opening of Studio East in 2015.
Ray fell into the culinary scene at the age of 12, working as a dishwasher in a restaurant his mother managed. Through chance, talent and hard work, he worked his way up through the ranks and is now known as one of Canada’s top chefs. His passion for creating rich and complex dishes is unmistakable. Once a young chef himself, he understands the importance of mentorship within the industry, and is passionate about nurturing other young chefs to realize their own culinary careers and artistic potential.
Saronn was born in Thailand, and until she was 8, her family lived in the colourful Thai countryside among farms and markets. They raised chickens and grew their own vegetables. When they moved to Canada, her mom still cooked traditional cambodian dishes every day. Her house always smelled of fermented fish “proak”, shrimp paste & fermented veggies. It was her mother who inspired her love of feeding others, Saronn loves seeing people eat. It’s probably why she loves her farm so much, the pigs are constantly eating and ecstatic!
When Saronn first connected with Ray, she was living in Toronto and he in Halifax, and like pretty much everybody these days, they met online. It was 2010, and she had quit her corporate job two years previous to realize her dream of becoming an advocate for local sustainable food. Asian food was just starting to appear on mainstream menus and she used her online presence to enrich Canada’s culinary culture through her food blog and twitter. She responded to one of Ray’s tweets, he started following her, eventually they met in person. He invited her to be a judge at Nova Scotia’s Catch Chef Competition, and the rest, they say, is history.
Once Ray convinced Saronn to move to Halifax, she found in the Halifax Seaport Market a place full of life and happiness. She opened a kiosk stand and locals got hooked on her authentic Cambodian curry – all made from scratch! She could see people from all walks of life bonding over the flavours in her dishes, just from the expressions on their faces alone – food is the universal language, after all! She was overwhelmed by the community and connection formed around the local food movement and wanted to help it grow.
They opened the doors of Studio East together; the vision of a locally sourced, globally ambitious restaurant, balanced by the depth of experience that these two chefs bring to the table. To take things to the next level, in the spring of 2018, Ray and Saronn bought a farm.
It sits atop North Mountain, Nova Scotia, 235 metres above sea level. Their dream is to bring their guests closer to the land and animals that sustain them, while delivering the unique and flavourful dishes that Studio East has become known for.
With the practice of permaculture, they use their animals’ own natural rhythms and inclinations to restore the previously used land. This agricultural method significantly reduces their ecological footprint, and allows their animals to do whatever it is they would normally do!
At Kisik Ridge Estate, atop a cloudy 212 acres in the sky, our pigs may not have wings, but they do enjoy the freedom that comes with space, nutrition, and longevity; And with all that, who’s to say they don’t have a slightly prolonged spring to their step?