By Haley Sorenson, February 17, 2014

 

We’re halfway through Dairy Month, and we spoke with  an Indiana chef at a restaurant attached to an Indiana creamery. Brandon Canfield is the Executive Chef at The Loft at Trader’s Point Creamery located in Zionsville, Indiana. The Loft at Trader’s Point Creamery is located above the Farm Store and is surrounded by farm land that is home to grass-fed, free-roam cows, as well as other animals like pigs and chickens. The Loft follows the modern farm to fork trend, lets hear more about his experiences, the Loft’s progression, and what makes The Loft unique.

Brandon Photo

After graduating from the Culinary Institutes of America, it appears you spent time in Chicago and San Francisco. What brought you to Indiana?

I’m a Hoosier. I was born in Indiana. I went to college at IU, and have always known I was a Hoosier at heart regardless of my zip code. After culinary school and internship in NYC, I was drawn to San Francisco. I wanted to go across the country and experience the heart of the fresh and in-season food culture. After four years under Michelin starred chefs I wanted to get back home to my roots-back to the Midwest. I found my way to Chicago, fell in love with my future wife and we came home to our families in the Indy area. We want to start a family of our own and know Indianapolis is a great place for that.

 

The Loft Restaurant is an awesome farm to fork model in our city. What are some of the ways you work directly with farmers?

I’ve been the chef of The Loft restaurant for almost 3 years. The mantra we hold in the kitchen is to keep progressing. Change for the better. Although we still use organic, we’ve moved to really embrace local, seasonal, well-grown and thoughtfully raised food. This is the core of farm to table-know who is growing your food.

I am grateful to have been able to foster relationships with local growers, but none so vital as with the farmers here at Traders Point. A few guys, Mark, Chris and Darin, manage the pastures, among other duties, with specific grasses and crops to feed the cows that they milk twice a day, every day. In their spare time, they have expanded their enterprise to grow and raise heritage hogs, laying hens, whole chickens and rabbits for exclusive use in The Loft. We have gone from buying precut pork chops to doing whole animal butchery in-house from whey fed hogs raised on the farm. We butcher these hogs with a bone saw, a cleaver and sharp knives.  It’s an honor to fully utilize these animals because I know who raised them-the care and attention they put into them, I must repay by giving the same level of consideration.

Additionally, I have a full-time gardener on my staff dedicated to raising vegetables exclusively for The Loft restaurant. In the winter, we plan out what vegetables, and herbs are desired for the entire year. He determines the planting schedules and harvest times to coincide with certain events and busy times of the year in the restaurant. During the growing season, he harvests and cleans five days a week to provide the freshest produce to The Loft. We are actually planning what to grow exclusively for our 2015 DigIn dish.

 

What is different about running The Loft Restaurant at Traders Point Creamery compared to the restaurants you’ve worked at in the past?

In a traditional restaurant, the chef is isolated from the source of his food. The restaurants I have worked in were all urban environments.  At The Loft, I am at the source of much of the food. Asphalt has been replaced with gardens and pedestrians have become herds of cattle. Within the main barn, there’s The Loft restaurant, the dairy bar for ice cream, there’s a farm store that handles tours as well and the cheese production facility. The farmers come in to eat lunch daily and to shake off the cold in the winter or catch a breeze of AC when it’s sweltering.

When I began it was a little daunting have all this activity in the midst of running a kitchen. But as the farmers and I have become more collaborative, having them on site and having daily interaction aids in our communication and growth of the restaurant. We can exchange ideas quickly, in person and on the fly. We devised a plan to grow a few acres of triticale for flour in only a few quick, impromptu meetings. We also want to use grains from the pasture to collaborate with a local brewer to make seasonal house beers. Currently on the menu from the farm are the chicken, ground beef and the pork, including sausages and charcuterie, along with most of the eggs and a majority of the pickled items from the summer garden, the dairy products and cheeses.

 

If you’re interested in visiting Trader’s Point Creamery, The Loft, or where to buy their cheeses or ice cream, visit their website!

Or visit the farm at 9101 Moore Rd, Zionsville, IN 46077