by Heidi Riley
Chef Michael Smith is one of Canada’s best-known chefs. He is the host of numerous cooking shows seen on Food Network Canada and in more than 100 other countries.
Chef Michael and his wife Chastity are the proprietors of The Inn at Bay Fortune and an innovative dining experience, FireWorks. In 2019 they debuted The Inn at Fortune Bridge.
“Our organization is a business of evolution, and we are always charging forward and looking for solutions,” says Chef Michael. “In February, I told the team I do not know what is ahead of us, but what got us here is our ethics and morals, and that was what was going to move us forward.”
“We quickly came up with a take-out option, even though we are really not built for take-out. Every decision we made was about staff safety. We served 1,000 picnics a week on our front lawn, and our staff never left the building – they were as safe as can be.
“We have been very lucky. At the end of August, we stopped offering the picnic and went back to doing the Feast. We were incredibly surprised by how successful the season was this year. It was quite terrifying in March, April, and May, but somehow magically we opened, and it worked. We saved our business, and we were able to give our team a good season.
“With help from the province and the federal government, we have stabilized our business, and we know we will be here next year.”
Staff are important
“We have worked extremely hard to build an amazing team from all over the world. We need to hold on to our team, so it made sense to open this year. When someone moves their family to PEI to work here, I feel an implicit responsibility to them.”
“Trust your gut and hold on to your values as fiercely as you can. Be open and transparent with the team around you. If you do not fill in the gaps, they will be filled by all kinds of misinformation.
“We need to continue to remember that the economy and our health are one and the same. As we can see to our south, when the economy and the healthcare risk became two separate issues, look at the chaos.”