Chef Profile: Lisa Hartery of Nautical Nellies

Chef Lisa Hartery of Nautical Nellies in Victoria. Photo by Deanna Ladret

Chef Lisa Hartery is a cookbookworm, Red Seal Chef, certified ISG Sommelier, WSET diploma candidate, teacher, and perpetual learner. It is this insatiable appetite for knowledge that led her––serendipitously––into her culinary career.


Living in St. John’s, Newfoundland, 17-year old high schooler Lisa washed dishes at a little Ma ‘n Pa restaurant downtown. When a server called in sick one day, she jumped at the chance to work the floor, and eventually landed regular serving shifts. After a few months on the job, exasperated with the kitchen’s timing and logistics, Lisa was complaining yet again to her manager.


“He said, ‘If you think you can do better, go back there and do it yourself!’ ” Chef Hartery says, laughing. “So, I did!”


Hanging up her waitress apron for chef’s whites felt natural to Hartery, who loves the hands-on aspect of cooking. During university, where she majored in Linguistics and Psychology, she worked at a café called The Blue Door. Weekdays were spent at university, nights and weekends at the restaurant where she hosted international cuisine-themed dinners for which Hartery would do the menu and food prep by day, then serve by night to get firsthand impressions from the customers. It was The Blue Door days when Chef Hartery fused her love of learning with her passion for cooking. “Every time I got my pay cheque, I’d go across the street and buy a new cookbook; that’s how I learned.”


Yes, Hartery studied many subjects during her years at university, but cooking was not one of them. Completely self taught through reading and practical experience, she challenged her Red Seal examination in 1999 after years of working in various restaurants and catering privately on the side. Shortly afterward, she accepted a job at Nautical Nellies in Victoria from co-owner Jeff Furneaux, a man she had worked years prior for in St. John’s.


Chef Hartery admits a natural affinity towards seafood – no surprise coming from somebody who has always lived near a shore. Apropos, she has created an extensive menu for Nautical Nellies emphasizing fresh fish and shellfish like Venezuelan Seafood Ceviche, Miso Glazed Sablefish, and Creole Sockeye Salmon.


Hartery’s wine studies unfolded as the byproduct of a hobby interest, and ended up pairing splendidly with her culinary career. She is the co-creator of Nautical Nellies’ award-winning wine list and conducts guided tastings with co-owner Betty Furneaux to educate restaurant staff.


In addition to all of this cooking, researching, and tasting, Hartery has two apprentices in the Nautical Nellies kitchen. She loves to teach and watch her cooks experiment with different techniques and ideas. Reflecting upon her professional career and fascination with flavours and textures, Lisa Hartery ultimately chocks it all up to her love of learning. “I like the reasons. I want to know why.”




1001 Wharf Street, Victoria, BC

Tel: 250 380 2260


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