Kingston Keeps it Fresh: The Farm-To-Table Scene of YGK

By Tianna Edwards

The best part of being a foodie in Kingston is the access to independently owned restaurants that prepare thoughtfully curated dishes using locally sourced ingredients.

Being close to an abundance of rural land gives our community easy access to farmers. The philosophy of eating fresh and local seems trendy, but Kingston chefs have been relying on local farmers since before Netflix foodie documentaries like Chef’s Table.

Burger night at Bella Bistro
Burger night at Bella Bistro

I take a seat on the patio of local hotspot Juniper Cafe to have a chat about local food with Bella Bistro co-owner Kevin Lapeer. If anyone knows the importance of the farm-to-table movement – it’s him. Lapeer and his colleague Paul Muller do everything they can to support local farmers, featuring their produce and proteins in a long list of specials, daily.
And there’s no better place to discuss eating local than at Juniper where owners Amber Thom and Jamie Hodges provide locally-sourced ingredients as much as they can.

Short ribs at Casa Domenico.
Short ribs at Casa Domenico.
Salmon Risotto from Bayview Farm.
Salmon Risotto from Bayview Farm.

Lapeer explains while admiring Juniper’s waterfront view, “They [Juniper Cafe] do a great job with as much local as possible. The food is great, homemade and fresh which keeps the philosophy.”

Lapeer is passionate about sourcing local ingredients for many reasons. “As an owner of an independent restaurant with people that rely on us to pay their bills, I feel it’s necessary to help other local small vendors do the same thing – it’s good for the economy, it’s healthier, it’s better for the environment.” And best of all, local ingredients enhance the flavour of any dish. One taste of a Bella Bistro special and you won’t question it.

Rainbow Trout from Bayview Farm.
Rainbow Trout from Bayview Farm.
Charcuterie Board courtesy of Red House.
Charcuterie Board courtesy of Red House.

I discover there is one thing many restaurants that support local farmers have in common, they use Wendy’s Mobile Market. Run by Wendy Banks and Rick Trudeau, this dream team can be credited for these establishments’ fresh farm-to-table meals.

“They source local, small independent farms and they provide us with a weekly list of what’s available through the local farms,” says Lapeer.
Le Chien Noir’s Rack of Lamb.
Le Chien Noir’s Rack of Lamb.

Wendy’s works with more than 70 producers and being farmers themselves, they understand the priorities and significance of the job. “It is important for us to connect the farmers to restaurants to help keep the farming community sustainable and vibrant. This will help our farming community grow again,” says Banks.

“It gives us food security and assurance that our area will have healthy local food that we can trust. In turn, we can provide the restaurants with great tasting food. It helps them source local food easily,” she adds.

Gokhan Cifci, owner of Tango Nuevo raves about the service.”It’s very difficult in the restaurant business to get a local farmer’s produce and vegetables – consistency is very important but Wendy’s does that perfectly,” he says.

Mela a Brie pizza by Atomica.
Mela a Brie pizza by Atomica.

If you’re on the hunt for a locally-sourced meal, look no further than the restaurants Wendy’s serves:
The Ivy Lea, Riva, Rivermill, Juniper Cafe, Red House West, Red House, Old Farm, John’s Deli, The Elm Cafe, The Grizzly Grill, Amadeus Cafe, Olivea, Casa, Tango Nuevo, Stone City Ale, Atomica, Chien Noir, The Yacht Club, Aqua Terra, Woodenheads, Days on Front, Bella Bistro, Bayview Farm, PanChancho and Pasta Genoa.