Restaurants added to farm visitor brochure

Kelowna-area restaurants focussed on local products are included in this year's studio and farm brochure for visitors.

Melissa Brown

Melissa Brown

It would be much easier to deal with one supplier admits Kelowna chef Rod Butters, but lots of local restaurants instead deal with dozens in order to support local farmers and source fresher, local produce when it’s in season.

It benefits farmers, processors, winemakers, brewers, chefs, and the consumers and visitors who sit down at the table and munch on farm-fresh, seasonal, local food.

For the first time, Tourism Kelowna has included restaurants that source out products grown or produced locally in its fourth annual Studio and Farm Tour brochure.

That way, a visitor can recognize the food on their plate as the food they saw growing a short  distance away, and possibly a short time ago, when they visited the operation, explains Catherine Frechette, communications manager for Tourism Kelowna.

“It helps complete the circle; connect the farm with the table. People love meeting the people behind the product,” she explains.

And, it’s about time restaurants are included, comments Butters. “We’re the end user for many local producers,” he notes.

His downtown restaurant, RauDZ Regional Table, deals with 150 different producers, because Milan’s beans are incredible—as is Jon’s seafood, he says.

“You can still taste and feel the warmth on the carrots I get in. They haven’t sat in a reefer truck (in refrigerated transit) for five weeks,” he explains.

“They taste better fresh and I can support local farmers at the same time. Both me and my customers benefit,” he says.

“I’m always looking for interesting products,” he adds.

At the same time, he believes farmers need to begin to be business people to survive; they need to find out what products chefs and other consumers want.

In fact, some of his suppliers meet with him over the winter months, and they pore over seed catalogues together. Sometimes he requests miniature vegetables or micro greens, or a particular size order of a particular product.

This working together of producers and the end user isn’t new, but the connection for visitors to the area is a new concept here.

The farm and studio brochure has been really popular with visitors and with outside media who have come to the area for the past few years, says Frechette, but adding eight restaurants to it this year completes the circle.

“Visiting news media have found they can meet people who are passionate about what they’re growing or creating, which means visitors will be interested too,” says Frechette.

The Okanagan is already drawing people who are interested in fine food and wine, so it just made sense to package it up.

“We have it all here. The food culture is already happening in Kelowna. We’re building a reputation around food interests…people can celebrate it all here. They’re already coming because they’re interested in it,” she commented.

The farm and studio brochure began as a self-guided tour of particular areas, such as East Kelowna, South Kelowna, Kelowna-Lake Country, downtown central Kelowna and West Kelowna.

Stops include farms, orchards, wineries, artist’s studios, gift galleries, museums, farm markets, cheese makers, a jam factory—and now restaurants.

Nancy Cameron, president of Tourism Kelowna says, “One added bonus of the new farm-to-table component is additional cross marketing and distribution of the brochure for all participants. If a farm is a supplier to one or more of these restaurants then they will now have a new story to tell customers about how their products are used by Kelowna’s top chefs; and the restaurants also have the reciprocal story to tell, and can encourage their diners to visit these farms.

“In short, the farm-to-table experience is now accessible and consumable for our customers.”


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