A Moveable Feast
Wendy Banks and Rick Trudeau of Wendy's Mobile Market (featured in our July/August 2015 issue) travel more than 160-km radius each week to deliver farmfresh produce, meat and dairy from 70 local farms to more than 60 area restaurants. Ask Banks about the chefs they deliver to and the typical business jargon about supply and demand doesn't enter the conversation. "We've gotten to know everyone really well — it's about being a part of something," starts Banks. "It's not just about the food. It's connections between people that turn into a community."
Occasionally, Banks and Trudeau find time to enjoy dinner out at the restaurants they deliver to. "We love being able to come in to eat," says Banks. "The chefs are very excited to show us what they've done with our food. They care so much — it's a masterpiece in the end."
Well, with a recommendation like that, we caught up with the chefs at three of the restaurants using Wendy's local food delivery service — The Branch Restaurant and Texas Grill, Le Chien Noir Bistro and The Masonry* — for a glimpse at how they feature local.
* note - shortly after this article was distributed in print, the Masonry sadly closed.
THE BRANCH RESTAURANT
Chefs Nicole LeBlanc and Bruce Enloe, Kemptville
For Chefs Bruce Enloe and Nicole LeBlanc, the husband and wife team behind The Branch Restaurant and Texas Grill in Kemptville, building a restaurant on local food is just the way to do it. They’re the real deal — genuine, talented and a part of the community in every sense. “Nicole and Bruce’s belief in the local food system extends beyond their restaurant. They live it, breathe it,” says Banks. “It’s who they are.”
Enloe and LeBlanc met at Millenium Restaurant in San Francisco, world-renowned for its vegan fine-dining. As a passionate vegetarian at the time, LeBlanc started a six-week internship at Millenium where Enloe was already working his way up the kitchen ranks. He also co-authored The Artful Vegan cookbook with Millenium’s executive chef, Eric Tucker.
After Millenium, they traveled in Europe working on organic farms along the way, before returning to Ontario in 2006 to be closer to LeBlanc’s family. Ironically, they settled in Kemptville and opened The Branch where they serve a carnivore’s-dream of a menu. It pays homage to Enloe’s roots in Austin, Texas where he started his career working in his family’s restaurant. The two quickly planted themselves in the community, sourcing from local producers, even starting a farmers’ market in the lot behind the restaurant. Extending his connection with local food even further, Enloe recently started as the general manager of the Two Rivers Food Hub, while he continues to work in The Branch kitchen nights and weekends.
And, there are no shortcuts made in that kitchen. Virtually everything is made from scratch from the rémoulade and housesmoked brisket, to the large pot of broth that simmers on the stove all day to make just a few cups of gravy. Even the live music is housemade. Enloe's band, The Burning Sensations, will occasionally provide after-dinner entertainment among other local favourites, Craig Cardiff, Jack Pine and The Fire and The Noisy Locomotive.
The Branch Restaurant and Texas Grill
15 Clothier St. E., Kemptville, Ont.
LE CHIEN NOIR BISTRO
Chef Derek MacGregor, Kingston
Wendy Banks and Rick Trudeau, of Wendy's Mobile Market, have pulled Chef Derek MacGregor’s you-know-what out of the fire on several occasions. As one of their original customers, MacGregor has forged a close relationship with the pair. Concerned about running out of pork before the weekend rush, MacGregor described a time when he was in a pinch and had to make that late night call to Banks for a rush order. “They're such nice people", MacGregor explains. "There is no customer care hotline, I just call Wendy and she always come through for me."
MacGregor got his start at the National Arts Centre immediately after graduating from Algonquin College’s culinary program in 1997. He worked a short stint at Le Chien Noir before moving to work at some of Toronto’s top eateries, including the now-closed Boba Restaurant and Scaramouche Pasta Bar and Grill. That is until Tim Pater, the owner of Le Chien Noir called him at Boba to lure him back to Kingston in 2006.
Starting as the executive chef, MacGregor sourced local ingredients as much as he could. Aside from the farmers he met at the Kingston Public Market just steps from the restaurant's front door, Mac- Gregor would make the trek to farms in Prince Edward County and throughout the Frontenac region himself. Then, in walked Banks. She came into the restaurant to explain the concept of the mobile market more than seven years ago and MacGregor was blown away. “As a chef, I thought it was ingenious — I can give them a shopping list from all these local farms and twice a week, they'll deliver."
And, it's about more than just the convenience of delivery. Mac- Gregor and Banks have a symbiotic relationship forged on the plates of one of Kingston's most popular restaurants.
Le Chien Noir Bistro
69 Brock St., Kingston, Ont.