A few years ago I helped my chef friend John MacPherson develop a pilot for a TV concept - "In Season" - which featured John going out into the field to hunt, gather, and harvest fresh seasonal ingredients, and followed him back to the kitchen where he put it all together for a great meal.
The narrative arc of a chef fishing, hunting and foraging for THAT DAY'S MENU made for good TV with strong visuals and a great payoff at the end. For busy restaurateurs, of course, getting seasonal, local ingredients is more complicated, and can involve a lot of people.
I've always thought that the real story of how great local food gets from "farm-to-table" - and the people who make it happen- would make a terrific photo story, but as a lifelong suburban kid I wasn't sure where or how to start.
Now, years later, I find myself in Ontario's Waterloo Region, home to three bustling cities - Waterloo, Kitchener, and Cambridge, and four big agricultural townships. The restaurant scene in these burgs is very robust, and 'farm-to'table' isn't just a marketing buzzword. With 1400+ farms within the Region proper, and over 4500 farms in the greater central Ontario area, "farm-to-table" is a reality even in modest brewpubs and family-friendly eateries.
I also have found some amazing local people who share a passion for the Region's local food and restaurant scene.
Local Line, a tech business founded in Kitchener by Cole Jones, helps local producers, distributors, retailers, and, of course, restaurants find each other. Cole responded almost immediately to my first email with a hearty welcome to the region and offered to help me make connections to get the project started.
Andrew Coppolino is a local food writer for CBC and the creator of Waterloo Region Eats, which is quickly becoming my go-to resource for local restaurants. Andrew met me for a beer at Abe Erb, and when I asked him "Where would be a good place to start?" he pointed to the floor beneath our feet. The owner of this brewpub sources his own chicken and pork from livestock he buys at the start of the season.
FoodLink is a non-profit that advocates for local food and helps consumers find what they're looking for. The site contains a massive amount of content in blogs, recipes, events and a searchable map that allows users to search by the ingredient they want. Anna Contini responded immediately to my email and we'll be meeting soon to figure out ways to work together.
The first shoot for this project will be happening soon, and I'll be sharing updates as we go. Stay tuned!
I've loved photography since I was a kid. I've been an assistant, a photographer, an editor, and a manager of a busy corporate photo department. I've been a traveling hired lens since 2003.