Medium Rare and Mealshare had the opportunity to sit down (socially distanced of course!) with the super talented and fun Chef Kayle Burns of UNA Pizza + Wine.
Our friends at UNA have been long time supporters of both organizations, so it was a natural fit to pick Chef Burns’ brain on his background (and UNA’s!), his favourite Medium Rare products, and the pizzeria’s community involvement!
Dream about eating one of UNA’s famous pepperoni pizzas while you read through our interview.
UNA Background (BMEX Group)
UNA Pizza + Wine is a California-Italian inspired neighbourhood restaurant. It has been a Calgary staple for over 10 years and was created by owners Jayme & Kelly who are not only partners in business but in life as well! Together they have successfully created four unique restaurants in YYC (UNA Takeaway, UNA Pizza + Wine, Bread & Circus and Frenchie) all located within 4 walls on the bustling 17th ave. Not only that, but UNA has grown into Saskatoon where their partners Taste Restaurant Group have taken over business operations and grown into four unique restaurants: Cohens, Picaro, Bar Gusto and UNA Pizzeria.
How did you get started in the restaurant industry and what inspired you?
Funny how it all came to play - Kayle loves travelling and snowboarding, and was living in Switzerland when he was 20. It was there that he was able to experience European culture, enjoy the sights, and also get his first taste of the incredible food and beverage industry. Taking note, Kayle started to explore the hospitality industry a bit more, and soon came to realize that the culture in Switzerland was all for enjoying, cooking and eating. This experience opened his eyes to the culinary industry, and he decided he needed to get involved.
Fast forward a few years and Kayle could be found dabbling in restaurants and cooking experiences, but his first big step to becoming a Chef came when he was in Quebec. He was approached by a friend who was interested in applying to go to culinary school, and handed Kayle an application. That’s all it took! Kayle applied, and has now been cooking for 17 years
Fun fact: Kayle has lived all around the world - Australia, New York, all over Canada, Tokyo, Salt Lake City, Switzerland & more.
What is your signature dish?
Kayle’s signature dish at UNA would have to be their pepperoni pizza. Now, we know what you are thinking – pepperoni pizza? Before you go any further, you need to understand why this is so important. This pizza was a HUGE win for UNA and Kayle, as it was the beginning of their curation and creation of in house meats and toppings.
Farm to table, house made, and supporting local are well rooted in the BMEX Group’s culture, so when they had the opportunity to partner with Bear and the Flower meats (owners Jessica and Chris), to make their own in house pepperoni – it was a BIG deal. Not only that, they now have a ton of in house, locally crafted pork offerings.
Side note:Jayme and Kelly are huge supporters of growing local products, and they have a garden for growing fresh ingredients next to where Ox used to be.
Bonus:Kayle’s fave at home dish? Bone Broths! They smell good, taste good, and fall under the comfort food category while also being considered healthy eating. He loves making a variety of soups, and really enjoys Laksa (for those of you who don’t know,Laksa is a spicy noodle soup popular in the Peranakan cuisine of Southeast Asia).
What is something that people may not know about your style of cooking?
Kayle is a classically trained French Chef, and has predominately worked in and cooked French cuisine. So how did Kayle transition to Italian? He started working at Bread & Circus, which is the first non – French restaurant he has worked in. He ended up loving Italian cuisine and excelled at cooking it (not surprising right?!).
How long have you been a part of the Mealshare program?
UNA has been a Mealshare partner for over 7 years and was one of Mealshare’s very first partner restaurants not only in Calgary, but in their entire organization. They have always gone above and beyond to showcase their support, volunteer, and help encourage the program with their staff and guests.
Their Feature Pizza and Feature Plate have been their Mealshare items (Jayme mentioned that people now call in and order the Mealshare Pizza vs. saying the Feature Pizza!) Want to know the best part? UNA has provided nearly 30,000 meals to youth in need to date!
Why do you think Mealshare is important?
To Kayle and UNA, it’s not just a program, it is a point of pride for everyone in the hospitality industry. The industry is filled with passionate people who are not just going through the motions of cooking and serving, but putting their creativity and soul into their dishes, trying to make the best food possible for their guests, their brand, and for an amazing cause. When they partner with an organization, they want to show up in the best possible way for them. They consistently support local – whether that be other businesses, charities, suppliers – they just love to give back to the communities that give so much to them.
How does quality apparel make a difference in the kitchen?
It’s essential! Cooking is a trade just like any other and you are hard on your materials. Investing in quality apparel makes a world of difference and prevents you from having to work through dozens of aprons, shirts and pants. Plus! Supporting local is an extra perk.
What’s your favourite Medium Rare item?
The Knight Rider apron! Kayle loves the cross over straps in the back, and how it attaches to each side. Many others share the same sentiment as this popular apron is unfortunately sold out!
Kayle is also a fan of Medium Rare’s hats, which come in a variety of colours and styles.
Wondering how to support local at this time? Kayle and UNA are all about helping the Ma and Pa’s! Shop local whenever you can and spread the word about your favourite spots!
As a chef, consider making how-to videos for how to make a restaurant quality meal in your kitchen, check out local care packages that are being offered and discover what’s in your area that you may not have known about before!