Risking it all for a better meal: our interview with the folks behind Field Guide.
We’re thrilled to introduce you to Field Guide, one of our favourite places to gather in Halifax. We spoke with owner and Front of House Manager Ceilidh Sutherland on what drove her and her partner – Field Guide Chef, Dan Vorstermans – to open up this perfect restaurant in Halifax.
Ceilidh grew up in Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia and met Dan, a native of Ontario, in Quebec. They moved to Nova Scotia together five years ago and settled in the North End because of the amazing sense of community that exists there, smack in the middle of a bigger city.
We talked about everything from the risks involved with opening up a new restaurant in Halifax, to where they get their inspiration. And don’t forget to visit Field Guide at 2076 Gottingen Street. You won’t be disappointed by their delicious food or their masterful and unexpected array of drinks.
FF: What inspired you to open a restaurant here in Halifax?
Ceilidh: First and foremost we have a love of food and drink, of gathering and of hosting. This was our starting point.
We also both have what I like to call an entrepreneurial spirit – meaning that we always knew we would work for ourselves. It was just a matter of time.
Field Guide is pretty unique in Halifax. We are small, we have an open concept kitchen where we source all our meat and produce from Nova Scotia, because this is where we believe we can get the highest quality ingredients. We believe in using the whole animal so you see a lot of offal (variety meats or organ meats, referring to the internal organs and entrails of a butchered animal) on our menu – this is something we are really passionate about. Everything on the menu is meant to be shared with the people you are with.
We also have an amazing team working behind the bar; our head bartender is Shane Beehan (photographed above) and our bar consultant is Jeff Van Horne.
FF: What was the greatest challenge you faced when opening Field Guide?
Ceilidh: If I had to pick one thing I guess the biggest challenge would just be navigating all of the permits and licensing that are needed to open a restaurant. It’s a pretty complicated process and it doesn’t always feel like the people in charge of making sure you have all of the necessary licenses and permits really care if you succeed or not (except our health inspector – he’s awesome!).
FF: Do you find Halifax inspiring?
Ceilidh: Yes! It’s small, it has a very interesting history and I sense that we are at some sort of crossroads as to where we are taking our city. I look around and see so many cool things happening. I don’t think a week goes by where I don’t hear about some cool new idea that is in the works.
I do think we are pretty self aware in Halifax as well. I think that everyone who is opening businesses in the North End is aware of the effects this has on the existing neighbourhood. I really believe that business owners and residents alike want the best for our neighbourhood – this in itself is inspiring.
I also love the fog and find Halifax beautiful. I like living where seagulls live and I like knowing it takes ten minutes to get out of the ‘city’ and into the country!
FF: Why have you stayed in Halifax? If you left at some point, what brought you back?
Ceilidh: We love the city, are excited for where it is going and in regards to Field Guide specifically we feel like we are filling a void! We barely knew anything about Halifax when we moved here, it was kind of done on a whim, but we have never looked back. Love at first sight for sure!
For Ceilidh, it’s new ideas, an interesting history, and the fog. What do you love the most about Halifax?