Everyone knows that the best parties always end in the kitchen. With our series Kitchen Party, we’re sitting down with Feast On Chefs to get to know them, and the local foods that inspire them, a little better.
Heatherlea Farm Shoppe
Terra Cotta, Ontario
What’s your favourite seasonal ingredient?
Spring is by far one of the most exciting times of the year! After living off of last years’ fall harvest – and weathering the cold – the first things to sprout always bring so much joy to my family. Fiddleheads and Rhubarb are great examples as they have enough weight to really carry their own on a plate.
In the summer, I love sour cherries. Growing up we had a large sour cherry tree in our front yard. I have the best memories of going out in the summer, picking as many cherries as we could and making fresh pies. Alternately, sour cherry pairs really well with bourbon for a great fall cocktail to keep the cherry enjoyment going.
In the fall, celeriac in mash potatoes has to be one of my all time favourite sides, not only to cram more vegetables into your basic potatoes but with a little black truffle you can really elevate simple mashed potatoes. Pair with roasted wild mushrooms and some jus and you’ve got the beginnings of a great dish.
Winter in Ontario can be tough for eating locally but with a bit of planning the season that makes us all so cold doesn’t have to be desolate from a food standpoint. Squash can be put up for the entire season and Spaghetti Squash makes a great substitute for your typical pastas, potatoes or rice. Every year, we put up about 80 jars of Heirloom tomatoes for the winter, one of the best winter meals is throwing together last summers tomatoes with some hearty cellar vegetables to extend the Ontario harvest season.
What’s your drink of choice?
Water, its so important to stay hydrated – especially working in kitchens where the temperatures can climb to uncomfortable peaks. Chances are if you’re not feeling your best a glass of water will help.
Most underrated ingredient?
Sumac or Kefir Lime Leaves. Both of these sound super exotic but we actually have sumac that grows right here in Ontario! It’s got a light earthy and lemony flavor to it and it goes great in a spice rub. Middle Eastern flavors have just enjoyed their moment in the sun and this is one that not everyone learns about. Kefir Lime is an import but so so good in everything from ice creams to curries and broths.
Daniel Humm’s Eleven Madison Park in Manhattan. I find his culinary style intriguing and timeless. If you find yourself in New York book a table and enjoy.
What’s the best part of working with Ontario food and drink?
The best part of working with products that are sourced locally isn’t the fact that I get to use them, so much as it is fantastic to be a part of a culture that supports sustainability. With a market that’s so saturated with selection, it’s very important as stewards in the industry to share all of the cutting edge, exciting and creative things we can do with what grows in our backyards… rather than emphasizing upscale imports.
Why is Feast On important to you and your restaurant?
Every week I learn about something new related to agriculture, the restaurant and accommodation industry or tourism in Ontario. Being a part of these industries, I always have my eye out, but even still find myself missing things. Feast On really brings communities together and helps to raise awareness about what is going on locally and brings that information to a wide array of people.
Fill in the blank: “If I entered a competitive eating contest, I’d definitely win if the item was _______”.
Watermelon, I could literally eat 2 entire melons in a sitting on a hot day!
What does your ‘Perfect Weekend’ in Terra Cotta look like?
Terra Cotta and the surrounding area are one of the best kept secrets of Southern Ontario. When I was living in Toronto I had no idea that anything was out here. Upon taking a role at the Heatherlea Farm Shoppe, my eyes have been opened to an entirely new region. My wife, daughter and I have yet to move past the idyllic scenic drives on winding roads with vista views. Its fantastic finding cool new places to stop into and just spend some quality time together.