Registrations topped 430 for the second edition of the BC Ministry of Agriculture’s networking and marketing event, “Every Chef Needs a Farmer, Every Farmer Needs a Chef.”
Attendance was up by half from last year, necessitating a move to the PNE Forum where more than 55 exhibitors from major commodity groups including the BC Dairy Association and BC Fruit Growers Association to start-ups such as Susgrainable Health Foods showed what they had to offer.
The day kicked off with a recap of success stories from last year, including collaborations between Abdul Majid of BC Garlic Growers Inc. and Shira Blustein of Vancouver restaurants the Acorn and Arbour. Majid showcased some of the value-added products he has developed, included freeze-dried garlic chips, garlic powder and black garlic, a sweet, fermented version of the tangy white bulbs.
Elizabeth and Matt L’Heureux of Aurora View Farms in Prince George discussed their partnership with North Vancouver chef Regina Lee, who uses their grass-fed meats in savoury pies made ready-to-eat for consumers at Gaia Kitchen.
The partnership exemplified the kind of relationship that Kevin Boon, general manager of the BC Cattlemen’s Association, said chefs need to foster.
“You’re looking for quality, you’re looking for consistency, you’re looking to build a relationship,” he said. “There’s several [ranchers] out there you need to get in touch with if that’s where you want to go.”
BC product might cost them a bit more versus imported options, but it’s money well-spent, as it’s reinvested in local farms and local communities.
“Be willing to dig into your pocket a little more. Come out and buy that product above the ones from New Zealand or South America, because you’re supporting your neighbour,” he said. “That’s what loyalty is about and that’s what we’re looking for.”