When it comes to cuisine, Creston Valley meats and produce can’t be beat — and diners are guaranteed that local food is a top priority when Red Circle Kitchen is catering.
“I really love to do a creative take on food using fresh and local ingredients,” said co-owner Jen Hart. “It’s slow food — it doesn’t come from a bucket. We make it ourselves.”
She and co-owner Tamara Movold quietly started their business in March, letting their passion for local and organic food enhance their menu.
“It’s peasant food meets urban food meets creative comfort food,” said Movold.
Creativity is key — at a recent event, they served Moroccan lamb meatballs on toasted pistachios, paired with local wine. And depending on clients’ needs, they are able to create raw, vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free dishes.
The food business is nothing new to either partner, both of whom are relative newcomers to Creston — Hart moved here from the Lower Mainland in 2005, and the Calgary-born Movold has been here for about three years.
Hart’s family had a restaurant in the 1970s, and the self-proclaimed foodie has catered, cooked for the Sigma Chi fraternity at the University of BC, and taught vegan, vegetarian and diabetic cooking.
“I love all manner of healthy deliciousness,” she said.
Movold, a barista at Kingfisher Used Books, has more experience away from the prep area.
“I don’t have as much kitchen experience, so I still end up doing front of house,” she said.
“Which is good, because you’re nicer than I am,” quipped Hart with a laugh.
The duo actually started the business with Annaliese Phypers, and intended to run a downtown juice bar, but gradually decided to split the juice bar and catering aspects of the business. The juice bar is still intended to open in the future.
Serving mainly local food may sound difficult — and it can be — but it’s not an impossible task. Two years ago, Movold ate locally through the entire growing season, buying only from the Creston Valley Farmers’ Market from May through September.
While not everything they need is available from the Creston Valley — their goal is “local first, organic next” — they have spent the summer building relationships with local producers, who offer an unexpectedly wide range of items. Goji berries, for example, are available from Mo and Mikey Farms, and Truscott Farms has okra and unique varieties of basil.
“It’s kind of a thrill when we find a great local something-or-other,” said Hart.
Value-added products are also useful — Donna Roblin’s ginger jam serves as a tasty glaze for peach scones, and Hart and Movold have been working with spice dealer Stephen Gollan to develop recipes emphasizing his spices.
Their main focus this year has been on catering, but Hart and Movold are also developing a plan that would allow them to serve from a food truck, although the economics of Red Circle Kitchen are a bit different than that of other caterers.
“We pay way more for local food,” said Hart. “It’s really expensive, but we do it because we want to support local food production. … One of the best ways to support local food production is to provide an outlet for it.”
Eggs and milk are readily available, but they never stop looking for other local products. A local miller to grind spelt into pastry flour, a supplier of sprout and Chinese greens, and local butter and yogurt are all on their wish list.
While Hart and Movold are able to cater big events of all sizes, serving food farm table-style — self-served from big tubs — when necessary, they most enjoy catering special events that allow them to create an experience and offer a wow factor. For example, at the upcoming Columbia Basin Trust symposium, they will serve salmon with hollandaise sauce that will be flamed at the table.
“We like the experience part as much as the food,” said Hart.
And when those experiences make diners smile, that’s the best part.
“It’s pretty magical,” said Movold.