Chefs’ Thomas Pelchat & Riley Hollohan Signature Dishes
Where it All Began
It all started with a position in the fast-food industry. As soon as Thomas was able, he landed employment at McDonald’s. Finding enjoyment working with food, Thomas decided to pursue a career in the culinary arts but soon became overcome by worries of not being able to find employment after his schooling, causing Thomas to drop out and attend Cape Breton University in its stead.
However, things did not end there for him. During his time at university, Thomas worked as a chef mentor to pay off his schooling, where he developed a true passion for cooking. This caused him to return to culinary school at NSCC Akerley and Marconi and finish the beginning of his journey there.
Since then, Thomas has travelled to several countries, including Australia, Scotland, and Ireland, picking up different styles of cooking in the process and is now our Executive Chef at 7by7 Restaurant in downtown Sydney, NS.
Thomas notes that his mother also played a role in his desire to pursue cooking, as she was always cooking at home, which is something he remembers as always wanting to be a part of. The country’s cuisine that Thomas prefers to cook the most would be French as it plays a role in Thomas’ identity: Thomas was raised Canadian French and French was how Thomas was taught in school. Over the years, he mentioned, there has been a continuous and slow transition towards Italian cuisine in his cooking.
Our Chicken Roulade is a signature dish created by Thomas, described as rolled chicken, roasted with artichoke, stuffed with feta, and served with Tabbouleh, baba ghanoush and jus. Anyone who chooses to try this dish describes it as being incredible, but what a lot of people don’t know is where the inspiration came from.
During Thomas’ time at culinary school, the chef that taught him always had a signature dish; a Truffle Foie Gras with mushroom duxelles, which is known as being a very classic French dish. Thomas was keen on being able to learn the technique of rolling the chicken to create one of his own, which he points out it is a challenging process to learn.
The Chicken Roulade is a dish that Thomas takes pride in and as for what makes it stand out from the rest, it would be being able to roll the chicken well as this is a skill that not many other people can do, not only this but the fusion of flavours and the technique between French and Middle Eastern, which is a very rare combination of cultures, makes this dish one-of-a-kind.
Our Beef Bourguignon is another signature dish created by Thomas, which is a dish to be featured on our Fall menu and something new to look forward to.
The inspiration behind this dish was Thomas’s mother as he recalls it being a dish she made for various special occasions. During his earlier years, Thomas notes that he had made a rendition of this dish which he described as being “way over the top” and in making it this time, he is focusing on re-creating and tweaking the dish to do now what he feels he should have done then. The main focus for this dish is on the ingredients and ensuring everything is in its ideal state compared to throwing everything together all at once to create something truly masterful. Another is focusing on the cut of meat, as Thomas explains a typical bourguignon is a low cut of meat, made to be better, in this case however, Thomas plans on starting with a quality cut of meat to make it its best. This dish will be a must-try this fall for any regulars and for newcomers as well.
Where it All Began
In Riley’s case, cooking has always been a part of his life since a young age. When he reminisces, the elements of cooking and working in a kitchen always seem to be there. For instance, when he was a toddler, Riley’s grandmother was a cook for the daycare he went to, of which she was a cook for 30 years. During his time there, he recalls being 3 or 4 years old and having his grandmother say, “help me with the dishes” or “help me plate up food.” Ironically enough, Riley’s other grandmother also happened to be a server in the food industry, more specifically, at the former Maple Leaf restaurant that closed its doors in 2017. Who would’ve thought the former Maple Leaf would now home to 7by7, where Riley works as the head chef – as fate would have it.
In one way or another, Riley was always involved in the cooking scene which is why pursuing the culinary arts may not come as a surprise. Cooking for Riley is an activity he finds relaxing and gives him an escape – to not only relax – but to find peace in.
For which country cuisine Riley prefers, satisfaction wise, he would say French due to the technique; he explains there is no room to make mistakes and it is a very hard thing to perfect. African food also peeks Riley’s interest due to the exotic flavours, colours and techniques used. That being said, homestyle or “grandma food” is a spot that holds a spot close to home for Riley and is something he will always cherish as well.
Our Whitney Pier Caribbean Style Chicken & Rice is a signature dish created by Riley, known for its delicious crispy home style fried chicken, served with basmati rice with black bean, green lentils, and tomato chicken gravy. This dish is one that’s destined to bring you straight to the heart of Whitney Pier and back again based on the tradition it is inspired from.
In the Pier, the Chicken and Rice is a community staple that each family has their own recipe for that is personal to them and not shared with others as it’s “their big family secret” as Riley describes. The Chicken and Rice dish that Riley makes today is inspired by his grandmother. He recalls that she used to make the dish often but passed away before she ever had the chance to teach him how to make it. The way Riley figured it out was by simply trying many other recipes to see what to do and use to perfect it. One of the ways this dish differs from the rest is due to the chicken being buttermilk soaked and marinated, as well as the flour’s special spice blend that makes it unique in its own way. It is truly a classic and traditional dish made to last.
Mac and Cheese
Our Chicken Bacon Mac and Cheese is another signature dish created by Riley and it is described as a creamy macaroni and cheese with bacon, served with Jack Daniels BBQ sauce and two pieces of homestyle fried crispy chicken on the side. It’s so delicious, you must try it (at least) twice!
The Mac and cheese is Riley’s favourite dish, he describes it as being a nice, warm, relaxing meal. The process for perfecting a mac and cheese dish is by starting off with what you desire (in this case, mac and cheese), adding what you would like to have in it (in this case, bacon), as well as how many types of cheese (in this case, 3-cheese) and what you would like for you side (pier chicken!). Presentation-wise, Riley states that you must go backwards and choose what techniques you need in order to make each ingredient stand out. In Riley’s opinion, the biggest thing that stands out for our Mac and Cheese is the topping, which believe it or not, is Doritos! Who would have thought?