In the Beginning: The greatest influence in my life has been family. My grandma had amazingly flamboyant French cookery skills that resonated throughout the whole family especially with my father, one of four kids. He truly had the “chef's palate” when it came to cooking food. Though my father never became a chef, he would have made a damn good one. My family taught me that fresh is best, and I’ve come to know and respect this truth. When I was three years old, we took a camping trip into coastal Brittany, France. This became a family trip we took yearly and I remember my father would cook live langoustines and lobster in a boiling pot over the campfire, simply splashing on some local French white wine, fresh herbs, garlic, and butter from the local Brittany creamery. As a child, the fun was ripping the heads off the shellfish with no fear, which sounds messed up I know, but knowing that the creamy yet delectable sweet flesh of a plump Langoustine would sufficiently satisfy was what got me hooked on life's food bounty. I guess my family created this fascination and respect for food in me and I wouldn't change it for the world.
The Art of Cooking: From 13 years of age I stumbled through kitchens learning the basics, until I turned 16, it was time for me to leave high school and find further education or a full-time job. I chose to gain some specialized experience in college, so this is where I spent the next 3 years really understanding every technique the French bible of cooking had to offer. There, I learned everything from pastry to butchery. And by then, I had gained a real love for simplicity, which was a reflection from my vacations as a kid.
I believe the creators of simplicity and flavor are the Italians. I took six months out of college at 17 to work in a hotel kitchen in Venice, Italy. My Italian head Chef told me, that this is where I would learn to make Pasta and Gnocchi for the restaurant. This is when I learned the social and family understanding of how important it is for everyone to bond over a meal. Laughs were exchanged across the table and wine was splashed around while the beautiful abundance of fresh Italian produce was there for the taking. GOD, I LOVED ITALY. I was promoted to work on the line where I would cook the pasta and add it to the robust, fresh sauce of the day. Sometimes the sauce was made with shellfish or was a simple homemade tomato sauce from the chef’s secret recipes that he'd later share with me. My biggest take away from, Italy was the passion for cooking. The chefs there really loved every moment of the process like it was the last dish they were cooking; perfecting the dishes was emotional for them. This is when I realized cooking was an art form, a way to express.
Farm To Table: After college, I was propelled to further my education at University. This was where I gained a real advancement into understanding refined culinary accolades and the techniques required, as well as took a business program that taught me the business model to prepare for opening a food business. School allowed me to travel on placements not just in the summer months but for a whole year during my second year of education. I traveled back to Italy, France, and to the United States where I learned in the Deep South about authentic BBQ. I used my trade as a way to make money, travel and learn every cooking technique available to me. University was a whirlwind that went very quickly but gave me the skills to move on to the next step in my career and find a job in the “real world.”
I went to the deep heart of cider and cheese country in rural Somerset, England where I stumbled upon a company run by the Owners of the hit farm-to-table style TV cooking show called “River Cottage”. This company had an abundance of fresh produce at their fingertips and above all, the Chefs there were at the top of their game. I would have to say in all my years of cooking, that I had never experienced a menu that changed daily. Baskets of fresh produce would arrive each day from the surrounding gardens and farms and as a team, during a coffee break at 6 AM, the menu would be decided within a matter of minutes in an open, artistic conversation of food enthusiasts. It reminded me of those days when I have only a few items in my home pantry and I simply just worked with what I had to create a good meal. This is where I learned what “from farm to the table” truly meant. Having your local farmers give their seasonal bounty to a Chef who has the ability to understand the complex nature of each vegetable and understand how it can be transformed into a sensual delight of a dish. There was simply no going back; farm-to-table culinary art was my life moving forward. Creative freedom was what I always coveted as a Chef and I had found it.
Oh, Canada: There comes a time when you reach a certain period as a Chef known throughout the industry as being burnt out. Working 90 hrs a week in my early 20’s was great for a handful of years and then I needed to have some fun and regain my social life. This is when I decided to fly to Canada and never looked back. I found a great restaurant in Whistler Canada called the “Bearfoot Bistro” where I worked under Melisa Craig the “Canadian Chef of the Year.” This was a fantastic experience for me working in a fine dining restaurant on top of its game. During my time in Whistler, it became apparent that a beautiful woman named Chas from Ontario, Canada was in my clear sight. A few years later, we were married. Also during this time in BC, I found the perfect farm to table restaurant that offered me an Executive Chef position. Here the restaurant managers were probably the pioneers of sustainability and had no wasted food policy. They even had a grow dome greenhouse the size of half a football pitch that offered produce all year round in the mountains of BC. From sea to sky and everywhere in between this place and the bounty was impressive to me. It was nice to be back in this type of environment and hosting back-to-back weddings in this remarkable location, was a treat indeed.
Then, getting the news that my wife was pregnant with our little girl gave us the desire to live closer to family. This is when I knew that I would be a Welsh Chef that will be growing his beautiful family in the Kawarthas. Little did I know, we were moving to “farm country.” WOW just WOW! The Kawarthas have a true food bounty! This is when I knew that I had to be a part of this farming community in some shape or form. So I decided to join the Peterborough Farmers’ Market as Kitchen Farmacy, offering a simple, delicious brunch concept. You can feel good knowing that everything you are eating from Kitchen Farmacy was handpicked in the Kawarthas and consciously prepared with fresh, seasonally harvested ingredients.
My wife Chas and I thank you for taking the farm away with you in small bites and we thank you for making us feel so welcome in this community.