Featurepreneur: Exploding onto the Scene with Molotov Cuisine

Genevieve Allen Hearn

*Molotov Cuisine is owned and run by Fiona Genevieve Lewis. Lewis describes herself as passionate about cooking with local ingredients and fascinated with fermentation. Her business caters, runs workshops, sells prepared food at markets, and organizes pop-up dining experiences. She is also involved in a meal box program called PieceMeal. *The Grapevine* asked this multi-faceted entrepreneur a few questions about her new business in the Annapolis Valley.*

The Grapevine (GV): Tell us about your company. What compelled you to start your own business?
Fiona Genevieve Lewis (FGL): Molotov Cuisine is based on a passion for cooking with local ingredients, land-to-table, and bringing an explosive taste to every dish. I do everything from selling artfully-made focaccia and chutneys at farmers markets, to catering for events (big and small), to creating upcycled aprons. I grew up in Russia, Ukraine, and China; with that opportunity I was able to experience so many flavours and concoctions that truly inspired me and lit a fire in my belly. My deep Nova Scotian family roots brought me back to the Annapolis Valley. I’ve been in the kitchen since I was knee-high, experimenting and playing with what ingredients can offer. I decided to start my own business when Covid reared its ugly head. Stuck at home, I had the time to reflect and decided to bet on myself.

GV: Do you have a cooking style, or something that sparks passion when it comes to food?
FGL: I’m very passionate about fermenting, preserving, and sun-drying local fresh ingredients while in their prime. By capturing the summer’s bounty I’m able to bring warm summer notes of flavour to all the dishes I serve in the winter months. I stave off the winter blues by cooking with local, sustainable ingredients all year round.

GV: Describe your workshops. Are they designed for all skill levels?
FGL: My workshops are designed to teach people how to cook sustainably and introduce them to fun methods to do so. Through fermentation, preserving with salt, and infusing oils and vinegars, my workshops are made for people from a zero skill level to people who know how to handle themselves in the kitchen but want a few creative inspirations!

GV: Our theme this issue is Valley Feast. Can you tell us something about the food and farm scene in the Valley that inspires you?
FGL: The whole Valley is such an inspiration to me! My friends at Terra Tonics have such amazing chemical-free produce. They’ve recently started growing elm oyster mushrooms which really excites me, along with other local mushroom providers that have recently been popping up. Mushrooms are such a versatile ingredient. The foraging in the Valley is also phenomenal. I’ve learned to collect my own sumac, hen of the woods, fiddleheads, and even sea asparagus. I’m very much inspired by the rhythms of the land.

GV: You’re also involved in a meal box business. Can you tell us about PieceMeal, and how it came to be?
FGL: I first met Kara Friesen, the founder of PieceMeal, while gleaning a field at Terra Tonics last October. It’s been wonderful working with her helping create her vision for PieceMeal’s meal kits. I create the recipes for the meals we provide, based on what local produce is in season. I try to keep the recipes fun and creative, showcasing how vegetables can truly be the star to your meal and introducing a few fun cooking techniques along the way.

GV: For our readers that love cooking: what is one piece of advice you would give to help keep things creative in the kitchen?
FGL: Don’t be afraid to get experimental with your food waste! Those fruit scraps can be turned into a flavoured vinegar, those parmesan rinds can be frozen then tossed into a creamy soup to add an extra punch of flavour, and those leftover squeezed lemons can be used to make a citrus stock!

Molotov Cuisine will be holding a pop-up event on October 22, 6pm-10pm at Avalon Gardens in Black Rock, celebrating the migrating full moon. The pop-up will include a huge array of appetizers and zakuskis, live music by local musician Cristian Quirivan, and bonfires to light up the night sky. Get your tickets now at molotovcuisine.com.