Chef Profiles: Chris Shaften, Farm Restaurant, Calgary
Sustainable and Seasonal In terms of his food philosophy, Shaften says, "The main point that we like to make with our food at Farm is about sustainability and, of course, using as much local product as possible and reducing carbon emissions through that. Seasonality of course is a result of using sustainable products." Shaften adds,"I […]
Sustainable and Seasonal In terms of his food philosophy, Shaften says, "The main point that we like to make with our food at Farm is about sustainability and, of course, using as much local product as possible and reducing carbon emissions through that. Seasonality of course is a result of using sustainable products." Shaften adds,"I believe in getting back to nature with food and really connecting people to what real food is and trying to educate through the medium of food and show people that you can still eat in a responsible way and enjoy it. You don't have to sacrifice flavour or quality."   Alberta hasn't been known as a haven for producers of artisanal products but Shaften says that a change is happening,"In Southern Alberta it's a little more difficult than in major growing regions in Canada like the Okanagan or the Niagara region. but there's a number of local, artisanal producers that have popped up in Southern Alberta and we're really excited about that. I think its changing in such a way that in ten years we're going to have products that are comparable to anywhere else in Canada." Shaften says he is excited by his suppliers who show passion and excitement for their product. He says, "When one of the suppliers like Gerrit from Driview Farms shows up with a piece of his lamb he's excited and passionate because he knows that all the work he puts into that lamb comes through. He gets excited by it and I'm excited to use his product. He always wants to know what we're doing with it and that kind of connection, that care and that passion from the ground up is phenomenal. You can never make good food without good products and if the supplier's not as excited about selling me their product as I am to use it, there's something missing." He goes on to say that many of his producers are small, family-run operations in Alberta. Shaften adds, " When they come down, they'll come down personally and deliver whatever it is they produce and they're thrilled not only to be making it but in having a restaurant like Farm preparing it and showcasing it in a really respectful way." Refined Comfort Food Shaften explains how he goes about thinking of what to feature on the menu. He says, "At Farm we don't do really classic comfort food, it's comfort food but refined a little bit. A lot of times I'll start by just going through things I really, really enjoy eating at home. I'll talk to some of the staff and ask them about their favourite childhood dish and take some of those memories and feelings and but them into the food." But along with the food at Farm, Shaften says he was drawn there by the way the company does business. He points out," It's based on respect. Whether its the owner talking to a new dish washer on their first day and shaking their hand to the way that we recycle everything we can and compost to the way we respect our suppliers, Farm is all about building family." The environment that is created at Farm is another draw for Shaften. He says, "To come to Farm and to be able to produce this level of food with these kinds of products in an environment where everyone does it because they love it. I think that's a result of the way they run their business.

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