Menu touts Saskatchewan Grown – Western Producer – Feb 2010

Restaurant buys local | Goal is to reduce environmental footprint

83_2col_BWcf fainting goat 1 copy.psd

By Christalee Froese
Freelance writer
REGINA — Lauren Mentiplay’s restaurant is based on a question: why buy beef from Argentina when it is standing in a field 13 kilometres away?  She opened the Fainting Goat Restaurant in Regina in September with her husband, Brian, and sons Justin and Brian Ludwig.
The business partners have made it their mission to know where their food comes from and to serve as many locally grown products as possible.  The menu includes steelhead trout from La Ronge, Sask., grain-fed chicken from Osler, Sask., and garden-grown vegetables from Osage, Sask.
“From the first day we opened, we’ve been full almost every single day, and on the weekends, we consistently turn people away,” said Mentiplay, a banker who took a culinary course in Vancouver in 2007 to transform her passion for cooking into a career.   She said the public has embraced the restaurant’s focus on Saskatchewan-grown products.
“The principle is that we’re not handing off control of our food source to transnational combines that import pork from Brazil and lettuce from California when we have many of those items right here,” Brian said.  “We’re trying to do something positive by supporting local producers, and our customers realize that.”
Local produce includes spaghetti squash, which is a staple on the menu, as well as wild boar, elk steaks and bison kebabs and vegetables, honey, mustard, spices and herbs.  “I can tell you exactly where the food we serve comes from, I can tell you that it doesn’t have hormones and I know that it has been humanely treated,” Lauren said.  “My son often jokes that the chickens from Pine View Farms (in Osler, Sask.) are read bedtime stories every night. It’s important for us to know that our food is coming from a good source and that it hasn’t been mistreated or pumped full of chemicals.”  She said it can be challenging to find local food suppliers, but she finds the variety and quality of Saskatchewan products to be superior to what is imported.
“The first three months in business were difficult because of the volumes we needed and the farm contacts that we had to work to make, but I can’t believe how wonderful it’s turned out to be now that we have a network.”
The initial idea was to decrease the restaurant’s environmental footprint by reducing the distance that food travels to the plate, but unexpected benefits have arisen.  “I’ve got fresh food coming right to my back door every week and I get little surprises like our suppliers saying, ‘today I’ve got some baby zucchini for you,’ or ‘we found this new sausage that is great,’ ” Lauren said.
“I didn’t realize how wonderful and enriching it would be to have these relationships with our producers who are always doing what they can for us.”
Tim and Carla Schultz of the Green Ranch in Osage, Sask., are among the restaurant’s key suppliers.  Tim said providing weekly deliveries of beef, chicken, lamb, wild boar, vegetables and flour to the Regina restaurant has been a great for his beef and market-garden business.  “It benefits us because that’s our livelihood and it benefits the local economy as well.”
He said if he doesn’t grow it, he will find a Saskatchewan supplier.  “It’s a really cool feeling to be part of the food chain and to know we’re doing our best to provide healthy food to people.”  Last year, he grew specialty varieties of produce, such as heirloom carrots, herbs and micro-greens, especially for the Fainting Goat.
Lauren Mentiplay
Fainting Goat restaurant owner

83_mug_bw_cf fainting goat 2 copy.psd