Top 40: Flambe Catering owner serves up nomination
As a kid, Jordan Ash enjoyed cooking.
He would join his parents and family to prepare meals. When he was very young, Ash recalls his mother, Rita Terriff, teaching him how to make a beshamel sauce, which is like a cream sauce.
“That was one of the things I remembered starting it all,” said Ash, who also satisfied appetites with pizza and simple meals.
Watching food being made professionally and tasting them made Ash, this weeks Top 40 Under 40 recipient, want to pursue a career as a chef. The owner and executive chef of Flambé Catering in Kaleden, Ash said his path began when he took culinary classes as a student at Pen High and then pursued an apprenticeship working under Patt Dyck at the Country Squire in Naramata. Ash describes Dyck as amazing.
“Even watching her, not being so hands-on at that age, was just so inspiring,” said Ash, 29. “To see what she did just made me want to do the same thing.”
He was also been inspired by chef Heinz Schmid of Catering Done Right in Kaleden.
Ash worked in a kitchen since he was a teenager and paid his dues, starting from being a dishwasher. He loves everything about the business and said the cooking aspect keeps him going.
“I just can’t imagine myself doing anything else,” said Ash, even when he has to put in 12 to 16 hour days.
The reward for long days is the feedback Ash gets from happy customers. That feedback is crucial because he said in a small community like the Okanagan, specifically Penticton, “word of mouth is everything.”
“Your reputation is everything,” he said.
Ash started Flambé Catering in February of 2010 and had it operating later that summer on a part-time basis. Ash maintained a full-time cooking job the first year.
In that time he did catering and worked weddings and parties out of the 1912 restaurant location in Kaleden.
In his second year, he shifted to working more part-time to dedicate himself more to his catering business. He eventually took the plunge in 2012 to focus on his business. Ash admitted it was a scary leap to take, but he said he got busy enough to make that decision.
“I wasn’t sure about the shoulder seasons,” said Ash. “I just went for it and haven’t looked back ever since.”
With word of mouth, social media and his website, Ash’s business has started to take off. In 2012 Ash worked weddings and other events every weekend consistently from May to October. He added the Thursday night barbecue each week in July and August and that helped 2013 be successful. He anticipates that continuing this year with the bookings he already has.
“It’s definitely going to be our busiest year yet,” said Ash.
Flambé Catering isn’t open on a day-to-day basis like a restaurant and there are no plans for that as Ash is happy with how things are going. That feedback from customers is how he came up with the idea for the Thursday night BBQ in the summer.
Each week he has a themed menu that isn’t planned until the last minute. Ash makes the menu based on the local organic products available and that is what inspires him. Along with hosting events and catering weddings, Ash hosts Valentine’s Day dinners and Mother’s Day.
Being a professional chef, Ash does have friends asking him to make meals from time to time. It’s also hard for them to pass one up when he says he’s making dinner and is having friends over.
“It generally draws a pretty good crowd quickly,” said Ash, whose wife Vanessa cooks the odd meal for him.
Ash is an avid hunter and loves giving back to his community and he does it with food. Ash has donated to soup kitchens regularly in the summer for three years. He has also supported the Kaleden Community Church donating kitchen equipment and gift certificates for fundraisers and the SPCA.
“I try and donate as much food as I can to the soup kitchen and some families that are in need,” he said.
“I think that’s just kind of part of being a business owner. You kind of have to look out for everybody. Food to me is what I do. If I can contribute that to the community, than perfect.”
A situation close to Ash’s heart involved helping a Kaleden family he learned about through an employee that attends the local church. Ash learned they were going through tough times.
“We had put together a few meals and donated some dinners to them,” he said. “I think that kind of meant the most to me. They were very appreciative about the whole thing.”
Ash said doing that starts with being caring.
“I just kind of wanted to look over other people as much as I could,” said Ash, who is honoured to be chosen to join the group in the Top 40 Under 40.
Penticton Top 40 under 40 is presented by the Prospera Credit Union in partnership with the Penticton and Wine Country Chamber of Commerce, JCI Penticton with support from Community Futures Okanagan Similkameen. Nominations should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line ‘Top 40 Nomination.’ Please include nominees contact info and a brief reason for nomination.