Feast On the Farm Niagara Benchlands: Meet the Chefs | Ontario Culinary
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Ricky and Olivia cooking a delicious meal together!

Feast On the Farm Niagara Benchlands: Meet the Chefs

Feast On the Farm in Niagara Benchlands is quickly approaching! On October 16th, we’ll be gathering at Vineland Estates Winery for a day of local fare featuring some of Ontario’s top chefs, VQA Wines from the Sustainable Wineries Certification Program, craft beverages from their region, live music from RBC Music and lots of important conversations!

Sounds awesome and want tickets? Grab them here. 

Otherwise, keep reading about the awesome chefs that will be featured that day!

4 Chefs, 3 Epic Meals

Read on for our round-up of excellent chefs making their way to Niagara Benchlands on October 16th to cook up some deliciousness for our guests.

Ricky Caspie and Olivia Simpson of Ricky + Olivia

Ricky and Olivia cooking a delicious meal together!

Ricky + Olivia are a chef duo with a focus on sourcing locally. They celebrate Ontario’s diversity through playful and thoughtful dishes.

In the summer months, you can find them operating the seasonal restaurant at Westcott Vineyards showcasing their commitment to quality local food and drink through “taste of place”.

You can also find them across Toronto and the province at their pop-ups and events throughout the year. Want the inside scoop on more of their events? Be sure to check them out on Instagram, Facebook or their website.

Chef Justin Lesso and Chef Bill Mackenzie of Bench Brewing Company + Fieldstone at Bench

Chef Justin Lesso

Chef Justin has been a part of the culinary scene for over 20 years. He completed his apprenticeship under the guidance of Chef Erik Peacock at Wellington Court Restaurant and Catering and is a graduate of Niagara College, completing the Culinary Management program. After spending time in Dublin and London, including valuable experience at La Trompette, a Michelin Star restaurant, it was time to head home.

From there, Justin became Chef de Cuisine of Wellington Court Restaurant, helped open Two Sister’s Winery and finally came to Bench Brewing Company and grew up the ranks as Head Chef.

Chef Justin’s mission at Bench Brewing is to create worldly cuisine with bold flavours and locally inspired ingredients. Justin is known to produce a casual yet flavourful and fun dining experience for all.

Chef Bill Mackenzie

Chef Bill started his culinary career over 20 years ago working at York Downs Golf Club in Markham, ON. He has worked in several restaurants in the GTA including Pheobe’s Oyster Bar where he became an expert shucker and Momofuku where he fine-tuned his butchering skills.

After spending time working in Europe, he returned to Markham as Sous Chef at York Downs. In of 2018 he moved to the Donalda Club where he spent over 3 years delivering outstanding cuisine to its members. In May of 2022 Chef Bill moved to wine country where he began his journey with Fieldstone at Bench as Head Chef.

His passion for food has grown considerably over his 20-year career and his favourite pass time is still cooking and hosting parties for friends and family.

Chef George Ward of Vineland Estates

Chef George Ward head shot

Chef George was born and raised in Niagara with a passion for food inspired by his mother. Thanks to her, George understood at a young age the importance of uncompromised quality and knowing the sources of your ingredients.

George completed the Culinary Management program at Niagara College and began working at Vineland Estates Winery as an apprentice in 2007.

Since then, his natural curiosity led him to work and manage at a number of fine dining establishments across the Niagara wine route, returning to Vineland Estates as Sous Chef in 2011.

In 2019, he accepted the position of Executive Chef, focusing on strengthening his relationships with local farmers and purveyors to create regionally sourced menus that entice culinary adventurousness in us all.

What’s On the Menu

Can you smell that? That’s just plain ol’ good food. These four chefs will be cooking up some delicious meals. We don’t have all the details yet but there will be three courses (and in the case of the mains, three if you’d like!). You can look forward to smoked pickerel with Ontario corn chowder, wildwood cherry creme brûlée and so much more. We’ll be posting details as we receive them on our website!

So what are you waiting for? Grab those tickets and hang out with us on October 16th!

Feast on the Farm: Niagara Benchlands