Farmer and Chef: Local Flavor

Joey Scarlett and Tiffany Pineda-Scarlett, the husband-and-wife founders of The Farmer & Chef in Aspen, speak with Purist about their biodynamic catering company.
Fresh, nutritious fare from The Farmer & Chef. Photo: F & C

By Priyanka Kumar

PURIST: The concept for The Farmer & Chef is all about localizing food systems. How does that work within the context of your business?

Joey Scarlett: We want to show that fresh, nutrient-dense, local food is obtainable. We source available ingredients from local farms and producers. By doing this we don’t have just one or two purveyors that we source our produce from, we have about six or seven farms that we work with regularly, that are all about an hour and a half away. Buying from them directly also means putting more money in that producer’s pocket, and forming relationships with the people growing our food.

PURIST: Why Roaring Fork Valley?

Joey Scarlett: A job offer brought us here and the local agriculture scene, views and the abundance of summer have kept us here. I grew up in Denver, so it is nice to be fairly close to family, too.

TIFFANY PINEDA-Scarlett: The community is incredible, welcoming, supportive and forward- thinking. Growing up in Miami, I didn’t get to experience the change of seasons. Every fall, I am in complete awe of the beauty around us. We feel very lucky to call this valley home.

PURIST: How would you describe biodynamic food?

JS: Biodynamic isn’t just about the food we eat, but about sequestering carbon, regenerating the land, and using biodiversity to help grow more nutrient-dense foods. It looks past the present to the future, and how the soil is responding to mainstream agriculture.

TPS: Organic farming includes things like bonemeal and fish meal that come from commodity operations. Biodynamic farming, on the other hand, only allows inputs from the whole farm organism, because the philosophy understands that a healthy farm organism already has everything you need. Biodynamic farming goes beyond regenerative farming to consider the sun/lunar cycles, the seasons, the animals.

PURIST: What lessons in wellness has running this business since the winter of 2020 taught you?

TPS: Prioritizing our well-being has become crucial in order to show up as our best selves for our staff, our customers and our community. I can think of countless nights of cooking nutrient-dense, real whole foods for other people that end with having packaged, processed ramen for ourselves at one in the morning after a 14-hour day. However, we’ve gotten a lot better about intentionally preparing nourishing meals for ourselves at home. For me, it also means prioritizing yoga practice and simple routines. I feel best when I take care of my body.

PURIST: Do you have a favorite seasonal dish you like to prepare in winter?

JS: Anything with squash or mushrooms. But what comes to mind for a good winter meal is a braised meat—whether it’s beef, pork or chicken served with polenta and really good garlicky mushrooms.

TPS: Stews and soups! One of my favorite dishes to make and eat in the winter is sancocho de pollo—just a Colombian chicken soup. I made some yesterday with Dooley Creek Farm chicken and Sustainable Settings potatoes, finished with a lot of fresh cilantro and lime. It’s a very rustic, simple, comforting dish that reminds me of home.