Mark Clairmont | MuskokaTODAY.com
PORT CARLING — Dave Kitchen is “on trend ….”
With “Muskoka Boil,” a 30-minute seafood social that’s easy, entertaining and takes two minutes to clean up.
The seafood boil is a social, fun and unique dining experience that welcomes family and friends to pitch in with the cooking and enjoy the timely charms and aromatic flavours and taste of healthy cottage country chow.
Muskoka Boil Co. is just one of the complementary new businesses Kitchen has added to his local market, garden centre and fish emporium in downtown Port Carling, on Hwy. 118.
The owner of the Field of Greens is really putting his stamp on the expanding food campus next to Foodland and Muskoka’s largest Tim Hortons on Lake Muskoka.
Kitchen is also opening Cotsu — a house made sushi shop located in his fish market on June 7th – come by for a free sample! Other exciting changes include; an expanded plant and flower offering and the return of Norbert Feuerstein’s famous “Muskoka Loaf” bread and other delights made by Norbert and his team of skilled bakers. It’s easy to see why cottagers savour “The Port” as Muskoka’s best destination.
Kitchen bought the Field of Greens three years ago from Lori Allen and the transition has been smooth and seamless. Kitchen — a great name for a food purveyor — was most recently in the Specialty Food Distribution business and represented 30 or 40 artisanal food producers from across Canada. Field of Greens was one his 500 wholesale clients.
In the spring of 2017, Kitchen and Allen, who sprouted Field of Greens in 2004, concluded the sale and purchase of Field of Greens.
The first year it was business as usual – learning the ropes and getting to know his customers preferences. 2017 saw some minor changes and now in 2018, Kitchen has begun to accelerate the expansion of the business and brand.
2019 is targeted to be a big year, he said at the recent start of another season just ahead of the May 24 Victoria Day long weekend, the traditional start to the Muskoka summer.
Lots of new product sourcing with different suppliers that he is familiar with. A move to more local products, organic, gluten free, vegan and all natural products. New services like order ahead for pick up or delivery. A new focus on catering.
He’s also added new Mexican and Asian food, which are all “on trend as relevant lines.”
Kitchen points out that nothing would be possible without an incredible team of staff and managers executing “the game plan”. Manager – Sheri Snider, now with 10 years’ service leads the way. Chris Hughes oversees the customer service team and all of the flowers and plants, Mariana Xie leads the culinary team and Seafood Market and Feuerstein brings over 40 years of bakery experience to our expanded bakery department. Add in lots of youthful, energetic and experienced student staff and “the team” at Field of Greens is second to none!
Incidentally, Kitchen will be on hand June 20 with his Muskoka Boil at the annual Muskoka Lakes Chamber of Commerce’s Spotlight on Muskoka Lakes 2019.
Muskoka Boil is “the summer version of fondue,” Kitchen enthused.
A fun, easy way to feed a large group with a pot of seasoned vegetables and seafood. In addition, customers can order side dishes, salads and deserts to round out a fantastic summer meal at the cottage.
Tell Kitchen how many you expect and his staff will portion, label and provide instructions on how to expertly cook your fish, shrimp, mussels, lobster or any ingredient you have selected for your Boil.
“It’s a reverse clock” cooking system, he says. “The thing that takes the longest to cook, the potatoes, go in first.” Followed at set times for each additional ingredient.
“It’s very interactive,” he said.
Thirty minutes later, you pull out the strainer and with great flare you toss the contents out along the length of the table (on paper of plastic) and dig in — with a cold beer or other beverage.
Clean-up is a two-minute roll-up and go.
A typical family corn pot will feed about 10 people.
But if you have more dinner guests, Kitchen can rent you 40-, 60-, or 80-quart pots and a propane burner.
It’s great way to welcome weekend visitors and family to your home or cottage and provide a great meal and conversation piece.
The East Bay Torrance cottager and his wife Susan Van Allen joke how the Muskoka Boil Co. slogan – “The Best Pot on the Lake” has taken on new meaning and a life of its own!
Kitchen brought in Mariana, a native of Jakarta, Indonesia and a recent Georgian College culinary grad to operate the fish house, Cotsu and Muskoka Boil Co. Mariana has undergone extensive sushi chef training from one of Kitchen’s friends Mo Aotoki, a 35 year expert in the sushi business.
Kitchen has also improved the Field of Greens Bakery by bringing in Feuerstein to scratch bake pies and run the busy bread and sweet shop that was lined up to get in before it opened on a recent Saturday.
As if that isn’t enough.
Kitchen has taken on Willmott’s General Store in Beaumaris, which is opening in mid-June to Labour Day. Willmotts is overseen by Sheri and her team and is entering its second year under the guidance of Field of Greens.
He’s also got a “fridge and kiosk” at the Walker’s Point Marina where he’s offering some “grab and go” items and promoting their new order each for pickup and delivery service.
It’s all part of his plan to “spread the brand” and bring cottagers a new level of customer service and convenience.
“I will not do anything if can’t do it right,” he says.
“It’s not easy to operate a small, seasonal business. Everything has to go right.”
And so far he’s been right.
Business has increased by over 20% during the first two years under his guidance and he expects another meaningful uptick in 2019, driven by his new business initiatives.
Field of Greens will be open 7 days a week during the summer and will close for the season on Thanksgiving Sunday.
Kitchen is in the early stages of planning more significant moves for the coming years as he looks to continue to build on the early success of his strategic initiatives.
Meanwhile, like many family cottage owners, he and his wife Susan, National Sales Manager for Logitech, are dealing with some significant damage at their cottage caused by The Flood of 2019.
A cottager on Lake Muskoka since 1987, the Kitchen family relish their time spent here and are thrilled to now be a part of the local business community.