Chef Jaco Lokker has always been a firm supporter of Ontario farmers and food producers, and he incorporates local and seasonal products into the menus at UTSG whenever possible.

“Whenever we develop our menus, one of the first things we do is look at the supply chain and traceability of the products that are involved. We have discussions with our suppliers and work with them to find ways to remain local. For example, we work with Norfolk Apples, which is an Ontario apple farming cooperative, and they supply us with all of the apples on campus. We also incorporate seasonal produce as much as possible,” he says.

Chef Jaco adds that hothouse farming has really changed the nature of ‘seasonal’ produce in Ontario. Fruits and vegetables that had very limited summer seasons are now “seasonal” most of the year because of hothouse farming. Local greenhouse-grown cucumbers and strawberries are now available even in the winter, along with greenhouse Boston lettuce. And, he adds, many local food suppliers and farmers have highly sophisticated barn storage facilities for their produce, which enables them to store local food like potatoes and other items for a very long time. Additionally, many items are produced on campus with local ingredients that have been frozen when in season, and then made available throughout the year.

Next month, Chef Jaco says to watch for local Ontario pork dishes along with regular local staples like Parmalat cheeses.

“Whenever possible, we incorporate local elements into our planning. For example, our Blue Dragon coffee may be grown abroad, but it’s locally roasted and we work with a company that has a really impressive and sustainable footprint.”

Local flavours and items feature in our new March specials. The Sandwich of the month is a Smoked Salmon Veggie Wrap with Asian coleslaw, cucumbers and Boston lettuce in a spinach tortilla. The Muffin of the Month is Chocolate & Zucchini. The Scone of the Month is Sweet Potato & Almond and the Drink of the Month is delicious Maple Pecan Latte. The cucumbers and lettuce are Ontario-grown, and the seasonal elements are the sweet potato and maple. Enjoy!