Sumac + Salt is our brainchild. We are calling what we do a food project as we are ever changing menus, locations and formulas; however, for the last few months, we have been posted up at the Good Family Farms in Meaford. We have been creating food experiences where we invite 12 people (all whom are typically strangers) to join us on the farm to enjoy a hyper-local, blind tasting menu focused exclusively on seasonal and local offerings. We are a duo who is constantly being inspired by our surroundings, as well as the local purveyors within Grey County. We strive to showcase the amazing work our local farms do and tell their stories through food. Finding small, local and organic producers with mindfulness about the environment is our goal. Our hope is to nourish these relationships and allow people to expand and explore all of the incredible offerings that are right in our own backyard.
Chef Joel Gray is the one half of Sumac + Salt. Nova Scotia born and Grey County bred, Joel has had a passion for food and supporting local for at least a decade. Starting his culinary career in large chain restaurants, he soon discovered what a difference quality and local ingredients make during his time at The Wooden Monkey in Halifax. This sparked a passion in him to explore the best local ingredients within his surroundings which he is constantly seeking out. Always eager to learn, discuss and try new things, Joel’s undeniable passion and knowledge on wild and local native ingredients is vast and ever growing.
After moving back to Grey County, Joel worked for local restaurant heroes such as Bruce Wine Bar. He also continued his passion for quality and local ingredients by pursuing his own series, The Harvest Dinners, out of his then home in Flesherton. Anyone who has had the pleasure of speaking to Joel, especially about food, can see the passion that flows through him. There have been many sleepless nights since starting this adventure; however, I’m sure he wouldn’t change a thing.
I (Hannah Harradine) started in the industry on the beverage side of it all, wine! I studied at the Niagara Institute of Oenology and Viticulture, and worked in wineries in Niagara, Europe and Australia. After returning home from my travels, to my old stomping ground of Barrie, Ontario, I decided that I wanted to dive into the hospitality side of the industry. I began working for the lovely people at Bruce Wine Bar, and was taught the importance of supporting local. Once Crow Bar and Variety opened, I worked with the team there to help create a fun and interesting local beverage and cocktail menu.
After harnessing my passion for hospitality and the importance of supporting local, linking up with Joel couldn’t have made for a better partnership! I am able to explore my creative sides in the kitchen, as well as heading up our photography (if we aren’t lucky enough to have a photographer around) and social media accounts.
In creating the tablescapes for our dinners, I have been able to work with local florist and flower grower, Amy Kitchen at Side Road Farms near Walters Falls. I love being able to play and design, while working with local, talented, passionate, likeminded people like Amy. The eclectic style of Sumac + Salt is shown through our table settings which touch on vintage and nostalgic elements, finding comfort and beauty in the space which matches our food perfectly.
One thing that makes us unique is our love of foraging throughout our friends properties. It starts in the spring as everything is slowly coming alive after the long cold winter. Trout lilies, fiddle heads, leeks and of course mushrooms are some of our favourite foraged spring finds. We are always reading and researching the new edibles we stumble upon while exploring the woods. As summer blooms, we use a lot of edible wild flowers in our cooking. Pickling day lily buds or plucking wild Virginia rose petals to create a simple syrup we add to our dishes. We love being able to explore and finding something that is not only delicious but adds to every story we create on the plate.
At the moment we don’t know what the future has in store for us; however you can be sure that we will be popping up all over Grey Country in the coming months.
If you are interested in joining us for a dinner on the farm you can contact us through:
Facebook: Sumac and Salt
Dinners are currently $100 per person and B.Y.O.B. Thank you for reading and we hope we were able to give you a little insight into what we do and why we love Grey County!
Basic Rules for Foraging
Foraging for edible plants can be a fun activity if done properly. Here are some basic rules to follow to ensure safety of all participants and the sustainability of plants:
- Learning from a local expert, consulting books or taking a workshop is recommended.
- Only harvest and eat plants you can positively identify.
- Foraging edible plants is permitted on most public land in Ontario, but obtain permission from owners prior to collecting plants on private property.
- Most importantly, do not over harvest. Only take what you can use. It is your responsibility to ensure the plants will continue to thrive year after year