The kitchen team at Verdicchio Ristorante | Enoteca had the opportunity to spend time at Penokean Hills Farms this week.
We are working with the Algoma farmers to incorporate their beef into our menu. They are also our partner in Beef Stack, our farm to table harvest dinner on Saturday August 25.
Penokean Hills Farms was created by a small group of five family farmers in 2005 with a goal to produce a premium-quality, 100% Northern Ontario brand of beef. Their mandate is to raise each animal in a high-quality, stress-free environment, but also to enhance the local environment and support the community.
Chef Daniel Guerra along with prep cook Sophie Marion and line cook Brian Burton were impressed with Penokean’s philosophy and farming practices.
Sophie shared some of her observations with us.
“The farmers we met were deeply knowledgeable and passionate about their work. They were happy to answer any questions we had, talk in detail about their breeding program and the life the cows have before they make it to the restaurant. They go above the minimum standards for things like pen size and care about the well being of the cattle. They believe that a calm and happy cow will give you the best beef.”
Penokean Hills Farms differs from large scale farming, said Sophie, a difference that was immediately evident to her.
“They are very committed to raising the highest quality of meat, from picking the best breeding stock, to making sure the cows are stress free right to the end of their lives.. Because of the small scale, they are able to control the process in a much more hands-on way.”
Sophie said visiting the farm and getting the chance to chat with the farmers will impact that way she approaches her work in the kitchen.
“I have always thought that seeing where our food comes from has a large part in really appreciating it. It makes me think of all the hard work that went into getting it to our table. It also give me confidence that what we are serving is supporting local farmers and people in the north.”