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Chef Kyle Panton brings his vision to Sim’s Corner

Chef’s Table
by Luke Arbuckle

Kyle Panton (photo: Luke Arbuckle)Born and raised in the Island community of Belfast, executive chef at Sims Corner Steakhouse and Oysterbar, 26-year-old Kyle Panton has big plans for the restaurant, his future, and the Island food industry.

Kyle started cooking at 15, when his mother opened Christine’s Country Cupboard near Belfast. “It was straight into the dish pit,” says Kyle. “But I worked hard and liked what I was doing.”

Kyle didn’t waste any time and enrolled at the Culinary Institute after completing high school. He graduated from the institute in 2008 and left to explore the industry. “After graduation, I wanted to try something a little different and left for Toronto,” says Kyle. “I landed at job at Splendito, it was ranked the number one restaurant at the time and I learned a lot about fine dining.”

After a year or so in Toronto, Kyle returned to the Island and began working his way up the ranks in the kitchen at Sims. “I spent most of my time on the grill,” says Kyle. “I worked on anything steak for a long time.”

As happy as he was at Sims, Kyle still wanted to see the country. When an opportunity opened up at the chalet restaurant Grappa in Kananaskis, Alberta, he was excited to try something new. “It’s beautiful country out there,” Kyle says. “I was an amazing experience and I learned a lot.”

An Island boy at heart, Kyle moved back to PEI in 2012 and rejoined the team at Sims, this time, as head chef. In his first year back, Kyle won the 2012 Savory Food Award for his striploin and lobster bearnaise. After winning the award, the dish was added to the Sims menu.

In 2013, during an invite-only event, Kyle matched his culinary skills against chefs from across North America and took first place at the International Seafood Chowder Competition. “Being from PEI and bringing home an international award for seafood is something I'll never forget,” says Kyle. “There are so many talented chefs out there, I’m just happy to bring the award home.”

He’ll defend his title in September 2014, but in the meantime, is working on a different project.

Kyle’s culinary vision is not limited to the kitchen. With the help of his cousin, he started his own farm in Belfast and in 2014, plans to provide Sims with produce grown from the gardens at One Vision Farms. “It’s always been a dream of mine to run a kitchen, but for me, growing the produce we use in the kitchen was always part of that dream, so that’s what I’m trying to do,” says Kyle. “I think it will be a great learning experience for me and a good business opportunity for the restaurant.”

Kyle says the farm’s name came naturally. “One Chef, one farmer, one vision—The plate.” It’s a mantra Kyle hopes to live by for years to come.

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