A few years ago I woke up and asked myself: Can I make a fantastic meal from only the food grown on my hobby farm? The more I thought about it the more I realized how difficult it would be, and therefore it must be attempted. This would be as hyperlocal as a feast could get.
Sure you can just slice some vegetables, boil a potato and grill a chicken—and that would be a decent meal—but I want something that is spectacular. Something that Gordon Ramsay wouldn’t yell at me about, food that would impress a Michelin rated chef. Subsistence eating is easy but world-class food is harder than you think.
The Internet, and YouTube, have made access to food information easier than ever, but it is often disconnected. One channel talks about growing tomatoes then you have to go to another channel to see how to maximize its potential in a dish. Growing food and cooking food should be one continuous stream, not separate entities. There are a lot of great resource channels on YouTube for gardening and cooking, but rarely both. So few channels have a goal, it’s just an endless stream of diminishing returns. I want to connect the food grown to the food eaten with a conclusive result, a fantastic 12-course tasting menu for at least 16 people.
Once you start looking at recipes, you begin to realize how intertwined the world of food is. Olive oil from Tunisia, balsamic vinegar from Italy and spices from around the world—and that’s just for a decent salad dressing. Key difficulties arise when you look at things like oil and delicious fats like butter. If you take oil out of cooking you lose a lot of flavour and convenience. If you take dairy out of the equation it gets even more difficult, just think no cream, no cheese, no butter. Fat tastes delicious and without cows or an olive grove, a chef would have to get creative. What about vinegar, citrus, wine and cocktails? Yes, there will be wine and cocktails because if you know about my previous project (Art of Drink) you’ll know that drinks are close to my heart. But all these ingredients we take for granted because we can just mindlessly buy them at the corner market are the ingredients that will be challenging to produce. Luckily, I studied chemistry and spent 14 years working in research labs, so I have a few tricks up my sleeve to get it done.
Maybe this will inspire you to garden or plan a meal from the one you already have. Maybe it will inspire a whole new way of eating and help your restaurant connect to where food is grown. As the world rapidly changes, maybe exploring the idea of hyperlocal food will be good for the planet.
How Will This Unfold?
The current plan is to start shooting video in the first week of March 2020. Why? Because currently, the weather sucks. It is mostly snow and there is not a single leaf on a tree so the landscape is drab and bleak. Spring starts when the maple sap begins to flow.
Until then, there will be updates to this site, like refining the rules and taking inventory of the foods available on the property and future planning. Over the past 3 years, I have planted 50 plus fruit and nut trees as well as berry plants and all sorts of interesting things. I like to plant unique, rare and hard to find things, it keeps life interesting.
What Will Make This Project Fail?
This project is intentionally challenging—that’s the point. But, the more difficult the challenge, the greater the opportunity for failure, and that’s what makes it fun.
The tough questions need to be asked before embarking on something of this magnitude. A person can take on too much, and this project seems to do exactly that. First, I have to be a videographer and writer, have an engaging personality, be creative, have the know-how to be an excellent gardener and be a chef, winemaker and distiller all while being the PR guy for my own YouTube channel and website. Plus I have to raise 3 kids, be a good husband and run my other business to pay the bills. Logistically this is going to be difficult because I want to do it well. I do have the time, desire and resources to do it.
There are more options for failure. Weather, life, community apathy, unknown recipes, my lack of collective skills and possibly my own fears. You can’t control the weather and a late spring frost or early autumn frost could wreak havoc on harvests. A good chunk of the Internet is a popularity contest, so if you want hits and views you talk about things that are known, like cupcakes and brands. Being a hyper-local menu with all the food sources from the farm doesn’t allow me to talk about the cool brands, also many of the recipes for this menu might have to be invented, so nobody is going to search for things like Paw Paw with Mayapple Coulis. Nobody has searched for that recipe, ever. To be successful on YouTube you need to follow the trends until you develop a following, but instead, I am going to be a trendsetter, which could be good, or bad. At least you’ll get some unique ideas.
Ideally, I’d love to have a restaurant reviewer and a couple of the world’s top chefs try this meal to really understand hyper-local terroir, but that would be a case of “be careful what you wish for, you just might get it”. I’m solid at cooking, and world-class at making cocktails, but attempting a challenge of this magnitude, and succeeding, could give me the “what did I just do” cold sweat nightmares.
What Will Make This Project Succeed?
Participation and community (that’s you!). Apathy extinguishes many great projects—why do something if nobody is interested. As I’ve mentioned, this is a big project, bordering on ridiculous for one person, so I need you. A simple, hey that’s cool, or here’s an idea for a recipe or let me help through Patreon are always great. But to start, the best thing you can do is subscribe to this YouTube channel and tell a friend. Farm Food Feast will only be successful on YouTube if the subscriber count goes up. You probably hear it all the time, but simply subscribing to the channel is one of the easiest ways to get Farm Food Feast rolling. YouTube’s algorithm likes subscribers, so we must feed the algorithm and play the game. Watch me suffer if you must, but I don’t suffer without affirmation.
And if things go really well, maybe we’ll figure out a way to get a couple of subscribers to join us at the table for the final feast. There may be multiple “feasts” depending on how things go, but we have lots of time to figure that out.
YouTube can be a lot like 3 AM insomnia TV, full of marketing gimmicks, outrageous claims and suspect cinematography, but I’d like to think this project would be more of prime-time series, at worse an after school special. These videos will be straight-forward how to’s and entertainment, starting in March 2020.
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