DSC01195

October 30th, 2019

What’s In Your Kitchen? Our Test Kitchen Chef Snacks on Peanut Butter and Blue Cheese

What you might not know about Farm Boy HQ is that along with our larger production kitchens, we also have an on site test kitchen, with a small team of busy chefs getting creative with new launches and dreaming up combinations for soups, salad dressing, marinades, cakes, and more. It’s true! Sometimes things smell so good that the rest of us *just happen to* wander over and see if they need a few extra taste testers.

As you might imagine, the Farm Boy Test Kitchen chefs love to cook at home as much as they love developing recipes for our stores. In our test kitchen column, we’re exploring the go-to ingredients that our in-house chef team use in their own kitchens. The items they can’t live without! Their secret weapons! Their pantry staples – and – how they use them every day. We tried to limit them to 5 items, but you know how chefs are…


Product Development Chef, Liam Fulcher, spent his childhood running around English pubs at the feet of his parents, but says it wasn’t until culinary school that he truly fell in love with the kitchen. Now, he spends his days developing recipes for our stores, and cooking at home with his wife – who is also a chef!

He made us his favourite snack, a potentially divisive combination of apple, peanut butter, and blue cheese (yes, you read that right,) and talked about his go-to list of multitasking ingredients, and what he snacks on and cooks at home.

Liam’s Kitchen Essentials

“My essentials are all really multi-purpose…”

  • Soy Sauce – I use this primarily for East Asian cooking. I like to make a lot of “Fridge Cleaners,” which is seeing what we have in the fridge and making a stir fry or curry of sorts. I use either left overs or fresh veg.
  • Farm Boy Peanut ButterI use our all-natural peanut butter for stir-fries as well but I also put it in my smoothies, sandwiches, and make snacks. For me it enhances any flavour. My favourite snack is sliced apple with peanut butter, and blue cheese.
  • Avocado Oil – I like this more than canola, vegetable, and olive oils because it has a really high smoking point, so you can cook with it in a pan with no problems. It’s also a healthier alternative to canola and vegetable oil for salad dressings.
  • Flour – I like to bake a lot at home and majority of the time to bake you need some sort of flour. Depending on what you are making, it can require different flours, so I usually have a variety. Peanut butter cupcakes, for example, need pastry flour to make them less dense!
  • Quinoa – I love quinoa. I can eat quinoa without anything else! I eat it instead of rice all the time because it supplies protein and fibre that rice just does not offer. I have experimented and anything rice can do quinoa can do as well! Even sushi!
  • Farm Boy Organic PaprikaThis is my favourite spice. I like the colour and the taste, and I usually sprinkle it in whatever I am making (if it fits the cuisine of course).
  • Farm Boy Balsamic Vinegar –  I use this as a quick salad dressing most of the time. Sprinkle some balsamic and avocado oil on a salad and people ask you what you used! But it also has a variety of uses like putting it in a pasta sauce to slightly sweeten or dribbling on top of a poutine to get a new depth of flavour!

Liam, you [and your wife] are both chefs. How do you eat day-to-day? 

We only ever have dinner. She goes to work super early. And of course, I’m here early too. So I don’t eat breakfast until I get here. I snack and taste throughout the day, and if I haven’t eaten a humongous amount of food while I’m here, I will usually stop at one of our stores on my way home and grab something. 

A Farm Boy store? You are seriously committed to the Farm Boy life! 

[Laughs] Yeah! 

So you kind of nibble on stuff through the day…

Yes, and at home… I’ll be honest, it’s usually what Steph [my wife] wants. But I usually make it. Yesterday, she really wanted gnocchi, so I made gnocchi carbonara. I stopped at the store on my way and grabbed our Farm Boy Potato Gnocchi, I grabbed the deli bacon slices, nice, thick, lardon-style. I grabbed a bit of parmesan and peas. That was pretty much it. I made it with tons of black pepper of course!

On the weekends, do you guys cook at home or go out? 

We eat at home a lot. Family comes over a lot since we’re both cooks. We end up making everything.

I like to eat healthily…a lot of salads. Something I really like to do is “fridge cleaners,” like a fridge cleaner stir fry is delicious. And I always have quinoa, so I just cook everything and throw it on some quinoa!

Have you always been a healthy eater?

I’ve tried to. I’ll always take quinoa over rice, for example. That’s just who I am. If it doesn’t have added nutritional value, I don’t want it. 

What about junk food? A guilty pleasure? 

Well that’s different. But my wife is usually the culprit. She’ll buy a box of cookies just to eat one…so someone has to eat the rest of them.

What other things do you snack on?

Dark chocolate. I’m not gonna lie. And cereal straight out of the box. 

Ooh, what cereal? 

Shreddies. And Mini Wheats! I like the fibrous…wheaty ones. 

That’s a pretty virtuous choice…

I love the crunchiness!

Okay, tell me about this snack you’re making us…

Ok. So this peanut butter, apple, blue cheese combination…I love it. I did the keto diet two years ago, and I made this guy all the time. Such a good snack. I use this Farm Boy Peanut Butter because it’s all natural. Now, I would have put more blue cheese on here if it was just me eating it. Typically, I like to use Blue Elizabeth cheese, but this is Stilton, and it’s also a good choice. 

What was the first thing you made that you were proud of and really thought, “I want to cook.”

Perogies. Or… I got really good at making banana bread. I mean really good. I like it as far as the banana can go. As black as it can get. 

Another thing that got me into cooking is that my family all cooks. I was born in England and lived there for the first eight years of my life. My uncle still lives there and owns two pubs…and pubs in England aren’t like pubs here, they’re more like gastropubs. So the pubs that he owns are really quality, and every time I would go back and see what he was doing, it was just amazing. My cousin got into cooking. 

I actually spent the first few years of my life in pubs there because my dad was also a chef, and he and my mum ran pubs. And my mum was a great baker, there was always something on the go. 

So you come from a food family.

Yeah! My dad loves to make curries. From scratch. He loves his curries. 

My first year of culinary school, I worked in restaurants, and my second year, I actually worked here at Farm Boy. I went to England for a year to work in a posh hotel kitchen and that’s where I truly got all my experience. It was drilled into me. I started as a saucier. And then I went to garde manger. They called me the “tuile king” because I was so good at tuiles.  After that year, I came back to Ottawa and worked in a restaurant, but ultimately wanted to come back here. 

 

What’s different about working here than working in fine dining?  

Well, the demand here is a lot higher. Here, I’m not doing the same thing over and over again, and the timeline is slightly longer. 

In terms of creativity, as long as we think it’s going to go over well with customers and make customers happy, we get to make it.

Do you have to ignore your tastes? 

Yes. I may like something, and customers may not. And I always consider sodium as a factor. I might just taste something that I consider to be seasoned, but other people might taste the salt. 

What’s your favourite thing you’ve made for Farm Boy? 

Definitely not pizza [laughs] I’m on my seventh iteration of a slice program. I really like the idea of making new stations and making new dips

What’s your goal in terms of development?

I really want to create a bibimbap station, like a stir fry station in the stores. I’d also love to do a hot and sour soup. And a French onion soup! I have my recipe ready to go but it’s a matter of scaling it up.

That’s one of the other things we have to think about all the time…execution. Like, I could do something, no problem, but doing it in the production facilities or doing it in the store, we’re constantly thinking about it. 

DSC01262

And asking yourself, “will it scale?”

Exactly. One of the things I noticed with my summer soups, one of them worked really well as an individual serving or even as 10 servings, but when it got up to 1000, we had to vary the proportions of the ingredients to get the same thing. 

Oh wow. And you never would have that problem in a restaurant. 

No, you never have to make a thousand of anything. I always have to think about how to execute things. It’s more than just making a recipe. 

DSC01208

Thanks so much Liam! 

Emily

The best foods. The best shopping experience. Making life better. This is our vision.

Farm Boy