For every feast, there is a farm that grows it. Christy McKenzie knows this well, and has put this idea into practice with her unique style of food service. McKenzie opened Pasture of Plenty in 2017 with the goal of engaging the community in every way possible, “We built the business to create and celebrate local food, and to intentionally purchase as much as we could from as close as we could.” This drive to celebrate local food led McKenzie to partner with local farmers to put community foods on her plates.
McKenzie’s love of food started with her family, “When we got together for family meals… it was a production to put on because you’re feeding so many people.” She recalls some of her earliest memories with food being tied to these large family dinners. In recalling this she said, “One of my first food memories was working with my mom in the kitchen to get ready for one of these bigger events and she wasn’t feeling well, so she went to bed.” McKenzie was flustered by her mother’s absence and continually had to ask for reassurances, but her mother soothed her anxieties and reinforced that, “You have done this a million times. You know how to feed your people.” These early experiences of cooking with family inspired an identity around food that would carry on into McKenzie’s future.
It was studying abroad in Italy that hammered home the ideas that would lead McKenzie to opening Pasture of Plenty. There she discovered an entirely new culture around food that she had never seen before. There she realized that a feast does not necessarily need to be a laborious task of foods cooked for days but can be “Simple olive oil from the fields, and it can be a basic farmstead cheese and a nice glass of wine.” This is also where she began to understand the importance of food, community and how they connect each other.
All of this led to the creation of Pasture of Plenty where McKenzie hopes to bring community together and root in those who would otherwise drift away. Because, as she puts it, “Food is love.”