While flipping a mushroom and bacon-filled pancake perfectly in a pan before setting it on a plate for finishing touches, Joe Payne, head chef at Pfanntastic Pannenkoek Haus, jokes around with his brother and sous chef across the kitchen.
Payne can’t be away from a kitchen; in particular, the Pfanntastic Pannenkoek Haus kitchen that he’s called his home kitchen since he started working there in 1999.
He’s worked his way up to the title of head chef since he started his cooking career working at various restaurants since he was 17.
“After about 10 years of bouncing around from Alberta to Ontario, I decided what I really needed was a small Mom and Pop organization where I’m not just a number or a paycheque in a book,” says Payne as he preps his station for the next string of orders.
After an hour and a half long interview with the owner of the restaurant Denice Greenwald, Payne knew he could spend the rest of his life cooking Dutch pancakes at the Pfanntastic Pannenkoek Haus.
“She was such a great motherly-figure to her staff.”
After 20 years of flipping pancakes, Payne says he’ll never be sick of them but his wife sure doesn’t love the smell of his uniform when he comes home from work.
On an average weekday Payne and his team cook 100-200 pancakes, weekends reach 300-400 a day, so it isn’t a surprise that cooking the different combinations of pancakes comes naturally to him.
As he continues to talk about his personal favourite pancake, one with apples and bacon, he starts cooking an order of four pancakes that is sent back to the kitchen.
He adds mushrooms to one pan, bacon to another and already scoops batter into the third.
The restaurant has a loyal customer base. People who come to enjoy Dutch pancakes once or twice a week and visit with head server Linda Klapper who’s been with the restaurant since its doors opened.
“We have people who first came in as little kids with their parents and they come in with their kids,” sous chef Alex von Krzesinski says as he and Payne have a quick gap between orders.
Both chefs love that the restaurant is generational.
“Making pancakes, we aren’t saving the world or anything, but we get to put a smile on someone’s face while doing what we love,” says Payne.
- By Stephanie Babych