Donna Mac Chef Kayla Woods is a graduate of the Baking and Pastry program at SAIT and has called Calgary home for more than 17 years. Working her way up the ranks, she has transformed the Donna Mac food philosophy, by embracing local ingredients, producers, and Alberta growers whenever possible. Her strong relationships with local suppliers adds to the integrity of the ingredients she works with, translating into Donna Mac’s fresh, fun and inventive menu with a homemade, family style approach. Kayla nurtures an inclusive kitchen environment with a keen attention to teaching, networking and a love of cooking.
What made you want to become a chef?
“Growing up I was surrounded by homely women cooking day and night who encouraged my participation, so it was a natural fit to continue doing it for a living. It created such a sense of community and safe space in my childhood that I wanted to continue creating that same comfort reaction for guests in addition to my team. I also just wanted to bring a little female energy into kitchens. It needed it. “
Why do you use Alberta ingredients in your kitchen?
“We use Alberta ingredients for a multitude of reasons. It’s as simple as fresher products are better, and supporting local businesses and economy are the only way Alberta will continue to grow. It’s a special thing when you can actually build a relationship with your suppliers and these businesses so you get direct insight into how your products are made and produced and how it directly effects these people and their families. “
What is your favourite Alberta ingredient to use?
“My favourite Alberta Ingredient would have to be any of the micro greens from Micro YYC. It’s such a great concept and a way of changing growing practices in a city. The micro greens are so diverse it allows them to be used in a multitude of ways including plating, garnishing and in recipes that people don’t realize. It’s a little unusual but none the less important to the “farm” scene in Alberta. “
What dish should guests be sure to try on your menu?
“The dish I would recommend on our menu would for sure be the perogies. They have definitely stood the test of time as a Donna Mac must try. They are made in-house using a multitude of local products from Vital Greens buttermilk, Micro YYC Amaranth, Sylvan Star Gouda, Brassica Mustard, Man’s Organic eggs. It’s our most comforting dish in my mind.”