Chef Adrienne Johnston prepares her daily menu at Prince Rupert’s Cow Bay Café.

Chef Adrienne Johnston prepares her daily menu at Prince Rupert’s Cow Bay Café.

Chef Adrienne Johnston brings a taste of her seaside café

Chef Adrienne Johnston, owner of Prince Rupert's Cow Bay Café, will share some kitchen secrets and stories May 10 at the Houston library.

When Adrienne Johnston was 11 and living in India, she and a friend dug a pit outside to cook fenugreek, potatoes and fresh chapattis.

Today, even after 17 years of creating new dishes for her Cow Bay Café in Prince Rupert, Johnston says she recalls no taste better than that simple dish.

“It was so good,” she says, laughing. “I remember thinking that I wanted to share it with as many people as I could.”

Johnston has done that, first by opening her small seaside café (“We can seat about 29 if you let me have my way”), and now, at the urging of many customers, with her cookbook: No More Secrets at the Cow Bay Café.

Seafood dishes, such as crab cakes and fish chowder, were among the most requested. But Johnston goes beyond ordinary.

“I try and present them with something that’s local, but exciting,” she says.

“I don’t do fish and chips. I tell everyone that my brother is a priest, and one frier in the family is quite enough.”

Many of Johnston’s creations combine flavours from around the word.

“My dad was an army man, and we just got sent wherever he had to go. There’s six of us children, and we’re all born in different places,” she says.

But the former children’s librarian will feel right at home at the Houston Library, where she will read a few of the many personal stories that season her cookbook.

Johnston will visit the library at 1 p.m. Thursday, May 10.