The culmination of 25 years in the culinary industry, Chef Chris Van Hooydonk and his wife Mikkel developed Backyard Farm to encompass all the things that inspire them in life, home and career.
Moving back to the Okanagan in 2007 after 3 years working at the Four Seasons Hotel in Boston, Chris was keen to relocate back to his roots, in the beautiful Okanagan Valley. After 2 years as restaurant chef, followed by 3 years as Executive Chef at The Sonora Room Restaurant, (located on the vineyards of Burrowing Owl Estate Winery), the timing and desire to build their dream and start a family was calling. January 2nd, 2014, the out of pocket renovation began, offering modest cosmetic changes while paying tribute to the history of the farmhouse and property itself. Now in the 7th season of operation, Backyard Farm Chef’s Table was officially launched June 1st, 2014.
Business development was prompted by Chris and Mikkels’ desire to seek more opportunity to balance farm, family life and career. Being that the culinary industry in a seasonal environment does not offer this easily, the decision was made to carve their own path. The ability to work from home between the two houses and properties affords much more time spent together, fulfilling the desire to maintain the true investment in raising the family together, regardless of the time commitment involved in operating a 2 acre farm and private dining facility. It has been the most rewarding career decision thus far.
The two acre property embodies a history of farm culture. With 80+ old growth heritage varieties of fruit trees on site, along with an ever expanding wealth of raised bed gardens and ground crops, the philosophy of farm to table is much more than a statement-it is simply a way of life. Truly a family business, Mikkel and their two daughters Ainsley and Baker can be found harvesting ingredients for the evening or afternoons’ tailored menu. Truly a “hands on” effort for everyone involved, with the farming efforts being accomplished by the inspired hospitality team in addition to the family. The true essence of a culinary experience at Backyard Farm is to share the story behind the food, the people who grow and produce it, along with how it lends itself to representing wine pairings from the many like-minded producers in our beautiful wine region.
On the farm, much of the ingredients on the menu are found grown on the property with the attentive efforts of Mikkel and the family. Growing methods follow organic methods, without certification In addition to the 4 beehives and heritage breed chicken flock that moves every few days, items grown on site include:
-Multiple varieties of Cherries, Apricots, Plums, Peaches(early, mid and late season), nectarines, apples, asian pears, sour cherries, mulberries, hazelnuts, walnuts, greens, drying and fresh beans, 20+ varieties of heirloom tomatoes, peas, potatos, edible flowers and herbs, kale, chard, beets, carrots, celery, celeriac, lavender, garlic, onions, sunchokes, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, currants……….
Contrary to the typical restaurant industry model, Chef’s culinary philosophy in utilizing produce bounty at its peak of quality extends beyond seasonality. Menus are developed weekly for confirmed clients, offering a very unique, tailored approach. As many clients are return guests to the farm, each menu will vary considerably for each visit unless otherwise requested. At the forefront, a quality minded approach to true hospitality: attentive, unobtrusive and professional service, thoughtfully grown and sourced local ingredients representing the beauty of the South Okanagan, with creativity and passion for our craft. Furthermore, offering private, pre-booked exclusive culinary experiences allows for less staffing needs and overhead, in addition to more control over the quality of the experience for our guests and industry clients.