Chef’s Passion About Local Food Feeds New Venture

Anthony Lennan to carry area beef, produce in new store

From ripe, fresh produce to locally-raised beef, Anthony Lennan is striving to bring the bounty of the community’s farms back to the family dinner table.

As a professional chef for 15 years, Anthony has had a long love affair with food and likewise a passion for sourcing local ingredients in his recipes. His own freezer at home, aside from shrimps and scallops, contains about 90 per cent beef and other meat from Peterborough and area.

He recalls an experience of eating a local potato, which delighted his taste buds like the spuds he ate as a child. Anthony gets excited about food — three times a day to be exact.

“It is a regional grocery store only serving locally-grown-and-produced foods.”

Through a new venture this spring, he’ll be re-introducing local, farm-fresh food into the grocery shopping experience in a bigger way by opening a new food store.

The Food Shop, which will be located at Water and Simcoe streets, will carry produce, meat and other ingredients that primarily hail from Peterborough County and area growers and farmers. He gets the keys to The Food Shop April 1 and aims to open the store on June 1.

Anthony speaks with Electric City Magazine about his hopes for the endeavor, and in turn, the projected benefits for area residents, farmers and the overall community.

“It is a regional grocery store only serving locally-grown-and-produced foods, Anthony says.

“Everything will be sourced from Peterborough County or just outside as much we can.”

pot piesSo far, he has secured local greens, radishes, carrots and potatoes, chicken and game birds from area farms and has a few leads on beef and pork.

The availability of fresh food is obviously dependent on the growing season, but the winter still provides local root vegetables and onions, for instance, and he plans to offer to-go soups and pot pies during the leaner months. “I’m going to see what my customers want for grab-and-go and go from there.

“This was an idea that first sparked about 10 years ago and I’ve been ruminating on it since then.” He has taken the past year off and made connections with area farmers through the local markets held on Wednesdays and Saturdays in Peterborough. With his son turning 18, he says he’ll have more time to devote to the business as he and his wife will soon be empty-nesters. Being a chef involves working in a fast-paced environment and being on his feet all day. Turning 45 soon, through the new venture, Anthony can forego the physical aches and pains of the restaurant business and still stay connected to food, albeit at a slower pace.

Being sustainable and getting food and ingredients locally “as a chef it’s something you dream about.”

Because he was previously always working on market days he’d buy potatoes at the grocery store. Now that he’s buying veggies at the market instead, he relishes the full flavor he had been missing. “For me, it’s all about the flavor and knowing you’re supporting local (businesses) is really good.

“My wife and I love local food and now we’ve really ramped up that commitment. It’s a better story with your meals.”

“My wife and I love local food and now we’ve really ramped up that commitment. It’s a better story with your meals.”

Through The Food Shop, he’ll help connect the consumer to the producer and give people an increased opportunity to shop locally. Not everyone can shop within the constraints of the Peterborough farmers’ market days. “I want to open that accessibility to local food to your average consumer,” he says.

Also with his food knowledge, he’ll be providing customers with a “full story” about each product from its origins to how to prepare the item. He hopes to use social media or e-mail campaigns to promote the arrival of a new delivery from a farmer so customers can stop by and interact with the grower about the product.

“It’s making a hub around food. A lot of the producers are excited about that as well…having the interaction with the people who are buying their food.”

Long-term goals include giving opportunities to farmers to hire staff if he becomes a high-volume buyer. He’d also like to get to the point where he could have a larger space than the current 650-square-foot location, hire a few people himself and focus on growing the business and outreach instead.

Anthony envisions workshops, partnerships and education surrounding local food to be part of The Food Shop in the future. “I always go back to that idea of a hub — it’s that hub that I want to create.”

His projected opening date of June 1 ties in with a local food event called Taste of Downtown in Peterborough.

For more information about The Food Shop, check out The Food Shop on Facebook and Ptbo Food Shop on Instagram.

Related Story:

New Food Shop Receives Warm Welcome From Community

Photos courtesy of The Food Shop Facebook page.

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