Well what a first summer it has been for us at Backyard Farm… Seems like it was just our June 1st launch date, and we are already heading into grape harvest season…..
Thought I would recap some of my most inspiring events, really all of them have been memorable to say the least. Trial and error has made way for a successful first season for us, and to say it is beyond expectations would be an understatement. The pursuit of my own chefs dream has been a swift one, and with the Chefs table busy with media tours, private bookings and cooking classes, I am humbled by the overwhelming support from our winery partners-both old and new, return clients and the large number of new food loving friends we have made thus far. And so, I would like to share a few of my latest inspiring events, sharing my passion for our region, our producer and farming partners and life here on the farm.
For Mikkel and my 3rd anniversary, Kevin Dunn of Okanagan Wildbrush Honey surprised my stunning and supportive wife with our very first beehive. These little workers produced our very first honeycomb in less than two weeks, tasting of clover from our surrounding acreage. Next year, we will host 7-8 hives, and Kevin has very generously agreed to include a beekeeping mentorship for Mikkel and I to learn the art of managing our very own hive. As many of you know, bees are disappearing, we want to play a small yet significant role in keeping healthy bees around the property. Truly, they are fascinating to watch, but the added benefit of being one step closer to being self sufficient. We are really excited for next year, having more hives and being mentored in the art of managing bees……..
The outcome of building this dream has surpassed our expectations for sure. It is due in a large part to many of the mentors, peers and colleagues we have the pleasure of being associated with. On the shelves of Covert Farms, as well as in the Wineshop of Hester Creek Winery, you can find Backyard Farm Preserves. Both Derek and Roger have been huge supporters of ours, and as the supply has been limited by the renovation time of the Chef’s Table, I had to select only these two outlets for our retail products this year. Rest assured, the winter will be full of preserving, setting aside a larger stockpile of preserves available for next season. If you may be looking for something to add to your menu at home, we also have some retail preserves available here on the farm. In addition to our retail products, Roger has offered up 6 cooking classes to date this summer in the demo kitchen at Hester Creek-yet another forum to share my passion for food here in the South Okanagan.
Chefs table dinner bookings exceeded my expectations as well-many guests at Backyard Farm were prior clients or friends. In addition to these groups, I had the pleasure to host many media tours through Thompson Okanangan Tourism Association and Destination Osoyoos. What a treat to help show off this wonderful place in which we live! I have posted a few articles and blogs from prior media experiences, and a few are on the horizon, so keep tabs on the site for a few upcoming perspectives from some of them. It has been very humbling to be invited to partake in these tours, and incredibly important for our region to provide these food and travel writers with a glimpse of the reason why we live, farm and work here in the South Okanagan!
One of my true passions is the opportunity to showcase some of the amazing wines and wineries in our area through my food philosophies. The first wine paired dinner this season was the spring release at Culmina Estate Winery. It was an honour to represent the Triggs family efforts and vision behind Culmina Wines. Not only a beautiful setting, but the wines were outstanding and a treat to pair with. Check out this link for the article on the event with photos courtesy of the very talented Tarryn Liv Parker.http://www.culmina.ca/news/culmina-hosts-members-to-enjoy-2014-spring-release-wines/
I was also invited to partake in 3 of the 7 Summer\Fall dinner series events at Road 13 Winery, one of which was this past weekend, menu following…..I love paying tribute to these wines, and we are always in great company for these events-Kisha and Danielle are great additions to the team, and Joe, Laura, Pam and Mick make us always feel very welcome and appreciated for our efforts. Looking forward to another season of paying tribute to Road 13 Wines!
The beginning of September was an exciting one for us. We were asked to provide culinary services for Blue Mountain Estate Winery’s Harvest Dinner on the 3rd. 55 guests seating overlooking the vineyard in Ok Falls, and we had the opportunity to pair a menu with their fantastic wines. This was the first time we have worked together, but far from the first time I have enjoyed the wines they produce……The Pinot Noir-truly one of my favourites, and the portfolio has a variety of sparkling wines that are sure to impress. Really enjoyed the evening, and the Mavety family was a pleasure to work with and represent. Truly visionaries in the industry. Here is the menu:
Last Season in September, I was invited to represent Jackson Triggs for the final lunch of the Visa Infinite Weekend, out at the Sunrock Vineyard just a stones throw away from the farm. Just a stunning location, a great group of guests and hosts and wines that were a pleasure to pair with. 55 happy guests, and the wine pairings were successful in showcasing the marriage of food and wine, and the hand it has in elevating the overall experience. This year I was invited to partake in the weekend of events. The first event was a three course lunch and reception showcasing Painted Rock Estate Winery. 50 guests from all over Canada joined us overlooking Skaha Lake and the vineyard for an afternoon wine paired menu. My Mentor Jim Armstrong joined me accompanied by my newly hired apprentice Kyle. Pretty amazing Jim joined me to grind out 3 events in two days all back to back-I am truly grateful for his time and efforts in the success of this past weekend as well as all of the prior vents he contributed his skills and experience in the kitchen.
The mentor and the apprentice in the kitchen with us-3 generations of passion for food…..So much fun this weekend!! Certainly couldn’t have done it without them, and really excited to share my knowledge with Kyle as he embarks on his pursuit of culinary success-wherever it may take him. Kyle is slated to attend his second year of Culinary Apprenticeship at Okanagan University in Kelowna at the beginning of October. I intend on exposing him to all I can while he is mentoring with me, and September is proving to have a great diversity of events and menus, plus a ridiculous amount of playing around in the Backyard Farm kitchen…….
Time to pick some of our last remaining late harvest peaches left on the trees….What a fruit season it was! Big shout outs to my chef friends who represented the fruits of our labour on their menus this summer-Liam Mc Nulty, Jeff vanGeest, Adair Scott, Justin Paakunin, thanks for taking some of this seasons bounty off the farm and into your kitchen. Mikkel’s passion for farming was seriously obvious with every bite of our peaches this year…..
Think the rambling has gone on long enough…..One last mention, and this one is best saved for last, as it is one of the most important to me. With diversity in business comes challenge. When it comes to a business such as this, being able to provide high quality and great service on an “on call” basis is a challenge. For the first season of the business expansion, I relied on a list of “on call” ladies and gentlemen willing to help out when needed-even with ridiculously short notice. The quality of service they all provided was beyond my expectations. A huge aspect of a dining experience is quality service, and I am very thankful to all of those who helped represent our family business, and my passion and dedication to quality. Polo, Rachelle, Kelsey, Kelly, Claudia, Amanda, Jesse-I feel very fortunate for your contributions at Backyard Farm, offsite for our private clients, events and winery events were treated to professional service with an attention to detail. I attribute much of our recent success to all of you. Most importantly is the deserved recognition for the efforts of my biggest supporter in business and life-Mikkel. All I can say is that she is the biggest reason in my pursuit to have this business support our lifestyle and growing family.
This is just a drop in the bucket of reasons why this has been the most fulfilling two years in my career and life-the fastest and best summer yet! Looking forward to the fall harvest commencing, and the upcoming events on the calendar. Dates are available for upcoming Christmas Parties, and we have quite a few public events on the go so check out the calendar page for available dates. Maverick Estate Winery’s inaugural winemakers dinner is coming up in a few weeks-saturday October 4th is sold out, but still a few tickets available for the 3rd…
So the chill is in the air, and the fall harvest is upon us. I raise a glass to a fantastic season full of new experiences so far, and look forward to whats in store around the corner…..