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The time has come to welcome another grape harvest season and upcoming wine festival in the South Okanagan. What a season it has been so far, it would be an understatement to claim it went by quickly! We have just finished harvesting the last of our stone-fruit, with a few ground crops finishing up in a few weeks. It was certainly an epic season for us on the farm, with our expectations far exceeded yet again!

The majority of the early months were spent continuing to renovate the interior of the Chef’s Table, while enjoying, and adjusting to the joys of fatherhood. Our vision from the very start was to build our career dream on this two acre piece of paradise. The motivation has always been simply lifestyle, creating an opportunity to enjoy raising our family, farming and cooking from home-inspired by our little family growing with a respect and fundamental understanding of where our food comes from,and the story behind it. I have never been so motivated to inspire, while sharing our story with our new and return guests. It is with the continued support of our family, friends and clients that our business has thrived, and the beginning of our dreams realized. In the next few seasons, we will continue our pursuit of building our families’ future on this piece of land.  Likely in 2016, we will begin developing an outdoor kitchen space, not certain as to the completion date, but we are really excited for the prospect of an outdoor patio as an option for our guests. I look forward to sharing more details with you as it comes together next season. In addition, Mikkel and I intend on replanting some of the old growth trees that are reaching the end of their lives, including a few new varieties of favorites we haven’t grown as of yet…..Really excited for what we have planned for the future of Backyard Farm!

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Business development has happened rather quickly for us, and growth management has certainly been at the forefront of this season. With my desire to be in the kitchen “getting my hands dirty” as much as possible, it was early on that I was fortunate to recruit an amazing addition to our humble team. Those of you who have contacted us or inquired about our services would have met Allison. It was rather obvious that an administration assistant was becoming necessity,to ensure all details for potential clients could be dealt with in a timely manner. Allison has given me the opportunity to focus on mentoring my apprentice Kyle, develop creative menus and wine pairings without distraction, and enjoy some family time whenever possible. As the season has progressed, I am humbled by her approach, and investment in our vision! It is amazing that we have the opportunity to work together, and we appreciate her professionalism and dedication.

Kyle,(the chosen apprentice) has grown immensely in the last year since he has joined us as well. As I developed the business to stay intimate, and somewhat exclusive, I certainly missed the mentorship piece of the culinary puzzle. September of last year, Kyle joined us for our first event together. He has certainly proven to be dependable, accountable and mature beyond his years. That in which he lacks in experience is certainly made up in ambition. In February he will be attending his third year of culinary apprenticeship training at Okanagan University. My goal has been to inspire his pursuit of a successful culinary career, build his abilities and confidence while feeding his passion for knowledge. My career thus far has taught me the value in a kitchen team’s ability to dictate the quality and progression of a menu. With a humble team of two,  mentor and apprentice, we have without question cooked together likely some of the best food in my career thus far. I trust he will do very well as he moves towards achieving his Red Seal in the Cook’s Trade. If you have had an opportunity to see him in the kitchen, it would be difficult to not see him grinning-not one day has he come into work lacking in enthusiasm…….. I am looking forward to seeing the evolution of the food we prepare together in the Backyard Farm kitchen.

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All this said, it has been an amazing year this far for all of us at Backyard Farm. We have had the opportunity to cook for many amazing guests, both at the chef’s table, but also off-site, representing the wealth of winery partners at some simply stunning locations. But the season isn’t over yet! Although we are booked pretty much until the third week of October, the Christmas and holiday inquiries are starting to come in quickly… Bearing in mind that availability is so limited, especially weekend dates, we wanted to offer a reminder to all of those who wish to celebrate with us at Backyard Farm this Fall and Winter, as well as next season. You can take a glimpse at our availability on the Calendar page of the website, then contact us directly for pricing details and further availability, in addition to any questions regarding a private culinary demonstration, private chef services or culinary workshops. Here is a link for inquiries:http://backyard-farm.ca/contact/

As the fall wine festival quickly approaches, all of us from Backyard Farm look forward to celebrating food, wine and farm culture with you!

Chef Chris Van Hooydonk and Team

 

* All photos courtesy of the very talented Chris Stenberg, capturing some great moments with us at a few recent events….Thanks Chris!