I’m Kathryn Yeomans. I’ve been a professional chef for well over 20 years, and a mom for just over five years. I am a Farmers’ Market devotee, & a Farmer groupie.
When my son was transitioning to solid food, I puréed like crazy. It was one of those late, sleep-deprived nights that it dawned on me that most Americans don’t know how to cook for their families. I mean really cook – not open bags, boxes, & cans of prepared foods, or even follow a recipe, but actually take a technique & what’s on hand & fix a wholesome, nutritious meal from scratch using fresh ingredients. We are 2 generations removed from stay-at-home moms being the norm, and home-ec has not been a school requirement for many, many years. Where do kids learn to cook? I went to culinary school. How does everyone else manage? Too often from pre-packaged, massed produced, nutritionally devoid blech that passes for food. It was a sad realization & I shed tears as I cranked carrots through the food mill.
It was not long after that I left the restaurant business to join the Farmers’ Market full-time to share tips, techniques, & secrets of the culinary trade with people who are hungry for fresh foods to feed their families.
Forging a culinary career path where one has never existed has not been simple. I tend to have my fingers in many pots (literally & figuratively). Sometimes they boil over (literally & figuratively), but more often, the result is sublime.
And I can’t say that the work is easier than restaurant work – with all the schlepping, setting up & tearing down, and having to bear inclement natural elements (my bowl of vegetable wash water once froze across the top into a solid layer of ice, and once a big gust of wind toppled my entire cookstove laden with pots & pans). The constant repetition of instructing Farmers’ Market passers-by can be exhausting, & hauling my gypsy kitchen from gig to gig, each with an entirely different agenda, can be dizzying. Then there’s the dishes. Always there are dirty dishes that need scrubbing. But overall, it’s far more rewarding work. People are trying new foods & cooking techniques. People are refining the techniques they know. People are freeing themselves from recipes & embracing a more free-form cooking style. People are shopping in a more market-responsive fashion. And they are excited to share their successes. That, in turn, makes me feel successful.
About The Farmer’s Feast:
The Farmer’s Feast offers sage culinary advice to assists shoppers in making the most of their Farmers’ Market purchases, and to help vendors realize the culinary possibilities of their products.
The goal of The Farmer’s Feast is to cultivate domestic culinary arts. By offering educational programs at Farmers’ Markets & health fairs that are free & open to anyone who wishes to attend, we’re encouraging more people to cook more often, from scratch, using market-fresh ingredients. Techniques trump recipes (though we offer those, too – one often needs a springboard from which to launch ones culinary ventures), and in-season ingredients are key.
Chef Kathryn Yeomans is the resident chef at the Hillsdale Farmers’ Market, and can be found in and around Portland, OR demonstrating cooking techniques, passing out samples, ladling soups, working alongside vendors, sharing food stories, history, & lore, and shopping at Farmers’ Markets.
CONTACT THE FARMER’S FEAST