Q&A with GRAIN

“Local to us means keeping these products to be sold and enjoyed by Canadians within our own economy in here in Canada.”

You know those best friends you had in school, who you would spend endless hours talking on the phone about the craziest of things, giggling in the back of the classroom and hanging out in each others kitchens raiding their fridges? That is Shira and Janna, the co-founders of GRAIN to a tee. Their friendship and the fun they have together is so infectious you just wish you could forever be their third wheel. And it’s this strong connection, and commitment to each other that makes GRAIN such a successful collaboration.

A collaboration not only with each other, but with the Canadian farmers that grow the grains, and with the restaurants that cook with them. We spent an evening sharing the last bottle of beer in their fridge, whilst cooking up a very large batch of quinoa. All in aid of some R&D to help the chef’s with a foolproof way to cook the big quantities you’d need in a restaurant setting, whilst still maintaining the perfect texture you get from cooking small batches. A blind taste test before we left, and it was hard to tell the difference, they’d hit the nail on the head, and were ready to take sample round to the chef’s to taste. A great example of these ladies commitment to their work, care for their collaborators, and love for geeking out over grains. What better thing to geek out over?!

Since we began our relationship with GRAIN not only have we all fallen for their deliciously, like-no- other, grains, but our chef’s have too! You will often see their grains pop up in our class menus, and if you come along to Chef Jonathan Chovancek‘s Grains & Legumes class you will get a taste of each of the six delicious grains in ways you would never think of using them. Sign up to our newsletter to be the first to know when the class is open for booking.

What led you both to starting GRAIN?

Janna: My family has a farm and grows things that we couldn’t find in our local grocery stores. We felt that more consumers would appreciate the quality and transparency that comes with supporting Canadian farmers.

Shira: When I met Janna I was blown away when she started bringing me chickpeas and lentils back from trips to her family’s farm in Saskatchewan. The quality was unlike anything I had cooked with before, and as a lifelong vegetarian, I’d cooked with my fair share of grain and legumes. We both realized there was a huge gap in transparency on products that are generally bought from faceless bulk bins – so we decided it was time to make the products available to both restaurants and consumers looking for quality and a connection to the people growing their food.
Tell us a little about the farmers you work with?

Janna: We work family owned and operated farmers in Saskatchewan and Alberta. Each and everyone of them is an expert in their regions and the crops that they grow. They are the hardest workers I’ve ever met.
What does sourcing locally mean to you?
Janna: It means thinking outside the box when it comes to shopping. Whether it’s for food, or clothing or anything. Asking questions and then supporting the makers, suppliers and farmers that align with my values.
Shira: What she said! We work with Canadian prairie farmers since these are the farms that literally feed the world. Local to us means keeping these products to be sold and enjoyed by Canadians within our own economy in here in Canada. It just all makes sense to us.
Favourite place to eat anywhere in the world?
Janna: Bangkok. I could not believe what a difference it made to eat Thai food in Thailand. The variety and freshness of the ingredients that grow there made all the difference in the world.
Shira: France. The produce, cheese, butter, and wine are incomparable to anything else you will ever find anywhere. Thankfully we are catching up a little with our bread game here!
What’s on the horizon for GRAIN?
Janna: Growing our network of farmers that we work with so we can offer even more variety in our assortment, and finding better and more meaningful ways to connect with people that love cooking with whole grains and pulses.
Shira: Freshly milled flour! Stay tuned…
To find out more about what GRAIN are up to, give them a follow on Instagram, and check out their products here.
Photography and interview by Kateland Clarke.

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