Jenn Sharp’s new book, Flat Out Delicious: Your Definitive Guide to Saskatchewan’s Food Artisans, will be finding its way into the glove boxes and consoles of many vehicles heading out on the highway this summer. Along with sunblock and water bottles, this guide to good eating in Saskatchewan is destined to be an essential element of every road trip.
Flat Out Delicious includes 167 food artisan profiles. Saskatoon-based Sharp says she “visited each person in the book, ate each chef’s food, got to know each farmer’s animals, and felt the dirt in each vegetable garden.
“It’s for those reasons,” she adds, “that I can personally recommend you support the artisans included in these pages.”
Before tackling this book, Sharp had written about food in Saskatchewan in her Flat Out Food column, which runs in the Star Phoenix and the Regina Leader-Post. But for this book, she went further afield than she had before.
Artisans featured in the book include cheese maker Kevin Petty, who makes small-batch artisanal cheese in a style modelled after an 18th-century European recipe. He launched Saskatoon Spruce in 2018.
Curtis Reid forages for wild non-tree products in northern Saskatchewan. He’s harvested and sold Labrador tea, fireweed leaves, yarrow, wild sarsaparilla root, valerian roots, balm of Gilead buds, and wild mushrooms.
At Nokomis, Jeff Allport operates a microbrewery and a taproom. His four core beers are made from Prairie-grown barley.
In Imperial, chef Tracy Kelly-Wilcox always has a grain bowl and a pulse plate on the menu at her bakery and café. She doesn’t want to offend anyone in beef country, but, she says, “I wanted to showcase items that everyone around here grows but very few people eat.”
And folks can’t resist the doughnuts at the Wadena Bakery, “likely the best spot for Boston cream doughnuts in the province,” as Sharp says.
Award-winning photographer Richard Marjan – whose work has appeared in Canadian Geographic, the New York Times, and the Globe and Mail – contributes to the lushness of the book with full-colour photographs of the profiled artisans, as well as landscapes, produce, livestock, happy diners, and of course, delicious food.
There’s a definite interest in where our food comes from these days.
“Every day, I am more and more inspired by our growing local food system,” Sharp says. “More independent retailers stocking locally made, grown, and raised goods are opening, more farmers are choosing to sell direct-to-consumer and buck the commodity trend, and more consumers are wanting to get to know – and support – their local farmers. More and more farmers are turning to regenerative agriculture and holistic animal husbandry methods, which inspires the heck outta me!”
As extensive as the coverage in Flat Out Delicious is, there is plenty more out there.
“A sequel is definitely a possibility!” says Sharp. “It wasn’t possible to include everyone in the first book and by the time it’s published, there will be many more incredible food artisans to add to the list.
“Beyond that, I’d like to do a similar project but on a national scale.”