Ona Lee began her career in food at Panos Kleftiko Greek Taverna in 2004 at the age of 14. Panos was a beloved, very authentic, greek family restaurant in Seattle’s lower Queen Anne neighborhood. Learned a lot about scrubbing octopus out of pots, that secret recipes actually exist, and food should come from passion.
In 2007 she started working at Emmett Watson’s Oyster Bar in the Pike Place Market, where Ona gathered produce, fish, and bread daily within the market. Shucked 5 gallon buckets of oysters while grilling salmon, and expediting tickets.
Ona Lee moved to NYC in 2008, and was the first cook hired to open The Manhattan Inn of Greenpoint Brooklyn. Learned to completely refurbish and build a new kitchen. Created menu items and prep pars. Shared space with the very first Van Leeuwen Ice Cream cafe and counter.
Later in 2009 Ona Lee moved on to the Michelin starred Spotted Pig restaurant. She worked under executive chef April Bloomfield, and chef de cuisine Ralph Johnson. Retained A health department rating and Michelin star 3 years in a row. Worked every station from day cold apps, to night grill, total of 8 stations throughout the restaurant. Held a lead line position. Had private whole animal butchering, pasta, and braising lessons with April herself. Worked support to April for her recipe testing preceding the publishing of her first cook book. Shopped at the farmers market in Union Square with chef Ralph. Dined at some of the best restaurants in NYC thanks to April and Jean Jorges, who sponsored cooks to eat out to broaden inspiration within the cooks. (This restaurant group has since taken many hits, understandably, due to owner Ken Friedman’s conduct. April is no longer associated in any way.)
Ralph announced he would be leaving for LA. Ona and Ralph discussed her starting at his new restaurant The Pikey. After he left the pig, Ona wanted to work at one more restaurant before leaving New York. Chef Justin Bazdarich’s flagship, Speedy Romeo, was only a few months old when she was hired as the woodfire grill cook, in an all woodfire pizza kitchen and grill. Prepped her entire line from sauce to garnish to sides and meats. Butchered all proteins for service, and tended the fire simultaneously. Worked closely next to star baker out of Jean Jorges kitchens, Anne Christiansen. Completed baking and pastry stages with Anne on days off.
Late 2012 Ona moved to Los Angeles to be morning sous chef at The Pikey. In 2013 grandma Clara passed away and Clara’s Canning Company was born. That became a primary interest, and private cooking and catering was picking up.
By the end of 2013, Ona was working full time in the homes and parties of well knows with Annie Campbell Catering and on Clara’s Canning Company. From $100,000 weddings in Malibu, to quaint little lunches. Starbucks hired Ona Lee to do a 600 jar installation in their La Boulange bakery in LA. Clara’s held in store tastings and sales at West Elm in Weho and DTLA. Clara’s canning was frequently in craft fairs and parties around town. Shopping upwards of four times a week at local farmers markets for clients and Clara’s Canning production.
During this period, Ona Lee moved to a live+work farm in Alta Dena that kept and trained goats for TV appearances. She lived with master ager dyers and costume directors for WB and Western Costume house.
In late 2014 early 2015, Lloyd Weatherford, Ona’s beloved father was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Ona fell into another live work farm in Snohomish Washington where she over saw kidding season, 32 births, and the refurbishing of animal stalls, fields, and planting. After about 6 months on the farm being closer to Seattle was important so she could caretake for her father in the progression of his illness.
Spring 2016 Ona Lee began working at Sitka and Spruce. After some months on dinner service, she transitioned to brunch and created half the menu and pastry items every weekend. Working with Chef Logan Cox on his fermentation, charcuterie, and butchering programs as well. Spring 2017 Ona’s father passed on and she moved on from Sitka to take some personal time. In that she became pregnant with her first born, a son named Lloyd.
After downtime to readjust to life’s many changes, she has relaunched Clara’s Canning Company. She is now crushing fall and winter harvest 2019/2020 into jars, pop up lunches and dinners, tasting parties, catering events, cakes for weddings and otherwise.
We are very excited for this rebirth of Clara’s in Bellingham, Wa and hope to hear from you. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for events, tastings, cakes, and more.