Chef Kanida Chey, Branca Toronto, and Yorkshire Valley Farms Talk Chicken!

What happens when you bring an Asado style kitchen and local organic chicken producer together? Really delicious food, that’s what. 

Chef Kanida Chey, of Branca Restaurant in Toronto, swears by using local, antibiotic and hormone free meat for his Asado style kitchen the heart of Brockton Village, Toronto.  

 “We want to be pioneers in food in the sense that we want to take food back to its roots. I think the average diner wants just that: food that is food.” – Chef Kanida Chey

 Why do you put local on the menu? “It is really important to showcase what Ontario has to offer. There’s such a great variety of local ingredients that people are not taking the time to source. When you are ordering meat from somewhere else in the world you are waiting about 5 days from the time it is butchered to when it arrives to be cooked. I think if people had a better awareness of that they would not be happy. I want my customers to know what I am cooking is local and fresh.”

For Chey, using local, hormone and antibiotic free meat is about more than just the quality and taste. Withmenu options like “Local Ontario Leg of Lamb” and “Local Organic Chicken – half”, it’s about creating an awareness of the variety of quality local ingredients available in your own backyard.

“Local is about more than just veggies. I’m a carnivore. I want to eat and serve good meat. At the same time, I do what I can to help create an understanding around the availability of great local products.”

What do you think brings people to Branca? 

“It is honest food. There are no gimmicks. Anything cooked up that day is served that night. Nothing is carried over. The menu is clear about what you are getting and people are coming because of its simplicity. We use really great products and are not trying to mask them with anything else. There are no crazy marinades, often just salt, pepper and a bit of oil. We let the quality of the product speak for itself.”

Chey is thrilled to have found fresh, local, antibiotic-free, organic chicken from Yorkshire Valley Farmsthrough Provender.

“The freshness and quality of the product from Yorkshire Valley Farms is immediately apparent. We brine the chicken ourselves for 3 days, then butterfly hang them over the fire until just before service. You can instantly tell the quality of the chicken through this process. With their organic chicken, the breast stays super firm. That is the mark of a good chicken. Conventional chicken tends to be watery and quickly looses its shape. The Yorkshire Valley Farms chicken stays plump, beautiful, succulent and cuts like a steak!”

We spoke with Krysten Cooper from Yorkshire Valley Farms about their commitment to bringing a range of quality organic chicken products, that are both good for the consumer and kind to the environment, to restaurants, chefs and consumers in Toronto.

“Our goal is to get more organic chicken into the market, making it accessible to as many people as possible. We want to make organic an easy, affordable alternative to conventional chicken.”

Yorkshire Valley Farms follows Canadian organic standards, but also adhere to their own set of standards they consider Yorkshire Valley Farms organic standards.”

“We focus on organic because this is the kind of food we want our friends, family and customers to eat. We are a farmer-owned and operated business.  We work to ensure that the land is maintained for the next generation of farmers and that our work is grounded in the whole farm ecosystem, stewarding the land, stewarding the food system and maintaining a commitment to organic throughout the entire process.”

On how to produce top quality, local, organic products, Cooper explains “It starts with what you feed the animals. The grains are never treated with herbicides or pesticides. It’s all non-GMO, organic and sustainably grown. We never add animal by-products to the feed. We are committed to growing a large portion of the grain ourselves because we want to be part of a system that maintains the health of our animals and our land.”  

How do you raise a happy, healthy chicken“No antibiotics means there is a necessity to provide a less stressful environment for the birds. This ensures a higher level of health and makes sure their immune system stays healthy. We give them only organic feed and make sure their water has the right PH balance. We give them a warm, spacious, healthy and comfortable place to live, they do the rest.”

Why is a commitment to organic important? It is just as important to talk about the things that we are not doing in local organic agriculture, as well as the things we are doing. Our commitment to organic is not just about a production method, it is also a value system.”

How can a local, farmer run company stay competitive? “We take a hands on approach to farming. We centralized the processing of the birds, meaning we have more capacity to control and maximize processing for all the family farms we work with. This allows us to produce at a higher quantity for the market, while maintaining the same standards in quality. We have flexibility when it comes to butchery, allowing us to diversify the cuts of our meat, creating room for more custom cuts based on feedback from retailers and restaurants.”

On working with local passionate TO chefs“It is such a great opportunity to work with chefs that believe in the local food system and high quality ingredients. Those kind of relationships are great for our business and we are always happy to build on them however we can.”

Don’t just read about the amazing things that happen when you bring passionate organic producers and food passionate chefs together. What you want to do is taste the results for yourself.

Branca Restaurant, 1727 Dundas Street West, Toronto, ON.  Tel. 416-519-8165

Yorkshire Valley Farms:  http://www.yorkshirevalley.com/