Ryan McDonald had spent half his life working alongside critically acclaimed chefs like Josh Galliano and Cary McDowell until 2018, when he became executive chef and co-owner of Good Fortune Restaurant in Botanical Heights. Now, with Farm Spirit, McDonald has found his own rhythm, cooking what he wants, changing things up and branching out in all directions. From pantry staples to dishes at farmers markets and festivals, McDonald’s doing it with intention by building every aspect of the business on a foundation of sustainability.
Why is sustainability so important to you?
Sustainability is at the core of everything we do with Farm Spirit. We and many other farmers and food producers work their butts off to grow and raise incredible product, and it is purely my responsibility as a chef, and quite frankly as a human, to make sure it goes to good use! Whether we’re talking about farming practices, techniques and recipe development in the kitchen, or just leaving your lights on at home when you’re gone, the bottom line is just do the right things, for the right reasons. No need to overcomplicate it; just do your part in the ways that you can.
People are also reading…
What sustainable practices do you employ with Farm Spirit’s grab-and-go products and hot food pop-ups?
Our partnership with Such and Such Farm was built with sustainability in mind, through vertically integrating our practices. My food source is usually 300 feet from my production kitchen, and it doesn’t get much better than that. Farm Spirit utilizes extra market produce as well as what would be compost to create prepared items, which gives them a new purpose. We practice a lot of fermentation and preservation techniques that allow us to use every last bit of produce in one way or another. We butcher whole animals and use every single bit of them in unique ways. The small amount of food waste we produce goes to compost and turns into garden soil in coming years. You’ll even find the barn adorned with leftover cleaned pig bones from the stockpot. We’re just trying to do our best and look forward to continuing and improving on that.
In what ways can people be more sustainable in their own home kitchens?
There’s a few simple steps anyone can do to be more conscious in your home kitchen. Buy your food from great farmers and producers, and do so with intention! After you buy that food, eat it all, and don’t let it go to waste. There are lots of cool things to make with leftovers and scraps, and it’s a fun way to get creative in your kitchen. Lastly, I highly suggest growing a garden. Big or small, it doesn’t matter; just start with your favorite things to eat, and see how it goes. Worst case scenario, you spend some time outside in the sun and learn what you want to grow next year.
Farm Spirit, instagram.com/farmspiritstl