By LeRae Haynes —
One unique and unforgettable destination in the beautiful west Chilcotin is the Kinikinik Restaurant and store, part of a sustainable, natural enterprise that includes rental cabins and a conference centre, Pasture to Plate ranching, the Chilcotin Harvest abattoir, a feed store, and a butcher shop.
Owners Felix and Jasmin Schellenberg have a vision that takes it farther, with plans for a hotel to create a destination for things like weddings, meetings, workshops, conferences, and retreats. They hire local workers and use local contractors and materials, and also have a butcher shop in Vancouver.
The Kinikinik Restaurant features food that is local, seasonal, 99 per cent organic, and cooked completely from scratch. “I have a mill to make flour for breads and pastas and we even cut our own oats,” said restaurant manager and co-owner Jasmin Schellenberg.
The construction of the restaurant, and the name itself reflects natural, authentic beauty. There is a lot of local timber used in the construction, stunning First Nations art on the wall, and a clay open oven made by Hidden Valley Masonry in 150 Mile house. A natural local plant on the roof gives the restaurant its name—Kinikinik translates to “bear berry.”
The menu offers things like handmade authentic pizzas, steaks, beef dip, and the fully loaded Kinikinik burger, says Jasmin who adds that locally grown potatoes are used for fries, cooked in organic beef tallow. She makes treats like homemade Kimchi and healthy drinks like Kombucha.
Unique in Canada, the meat used at Kinikinik is grown locally and is certified organic, pharmaceutical-free with no vaccines. The animals are respectfully harvested and the meat is dry-aged, hanging for approximately 14 days.
“The only supplement our animals get is unrefined sea salt,” says Felix. “On the ranch we graze long and we calve in May and June; everything is grass-fed finished.”
Some of their meat is used in the restaurant and some in the local butcher shop, and a lot of it is sent to their large shop in Vancouver.
“We started Pasture to Plate so that the farmer and the rancher get a fair price,” says Felix. “The farmer who produces good food needs to do well in life. Sometimes you have to cut corners to survive and that’s not OK.”
Ethical treatment of animals is the cornerstone for Felix and Jasmine Schellenberg. On harvesting day at the abattoir they play classical music to provide a peaceful atmosphere for the animals. There is also a ‘priest cow’ or companion animal in a pen next to the animals during the harvest, keeping them calm.
The pens where the animals are kept on harvest day have naturally heated, self-cleaning floors for the animals’ comfort. “We excavated all the sand and gravel under the pens, lined it with tin, and buried logs ‘marinated’ in indigenous micro-organisms,” says Felix. “We added wood chips, 300 lbs of sea salt, soil, and hardwood charcoal chunks.”
He says the whole abattoir was built around the ‘bleeding point’ where the animal is harvested. A beautiful tile mosaic with First Nations nature symbols at the bleeding point reflects this belief. “This is important on many spiritual and ethical levels,” he says.
This is all a self-sustaining organism, and we don’t create waste or contribute to land fill…. Even the boxes going to Vancouver were changed to plastic totes so they are reusable.”
Another unique aspect is education—providing students with a strong, positive experience and promoting responsible, global agriculture for future generations.
For the past five years Felix and Jasmin, who raised four daughters of their own, have worked with Waldorf Schools in Germany, Switzerland, and Vancouver, welcoming high school students into their home for three months. Students at these schools have a compulsory agricultural component to their schooling and the Schellenbergs’ operation has been accepted as a good option for students to learn agriculture from the ground up.
“We get between one a four kids at a time; they work in the vertical integration at Pasture to Plate learning about producing, growing, processing, and selling,” says Felix. “They learn quality control from top to bottom, gaining experience in taking eggs, feeding chickens, moving electric fences, working on permanent fences moving, sorting and loading cattle, cooking, dish washing, harvesting animals, plucking birds, food prep, cleaning, serving, gardening, harvesting planting, weeding, watering, riding, and working in the shop.
“They get a solid, comprehensive stretch in agriculture and even get to help in promotional work like film making and photography.”
With the help of a generous contribution from the Ministry of Agriculture there is a state-of-the-art compost facility on site where everything from the abattoir and butcher shop is used: blood, bone, and all animal waste are used for landscaping and fertilizing pastures.
“This is all a self-sustaining organism, and we don’t create waste or contribute to land fill,” says Felix. “Even the boxes going to Vancouver were changed to plastic totes so they are reusable.”
The butcher shop is also high-tech and trend-setting, with huge windows letting in natural light and featuring a master butcher from Germany. “We use no additives or fillers, and every bratwurst and wiener is made from organic ingredients, which is a huge challenge for a butcher,” says Felix. “In Canada you can use 40 per cent filler, including wheat and water, but our butcher doesn’t use any—all the taste is created. We do our homework; all our meat and spices are 100 per cent certified organic.”
Jasmin says this has been a lifelong dream for them. “Felix always wanted to be a cowboy on a ranch and I always loved making everything from scratch,” she says. “This is food that is truly good for you, which is what it should be.”
For more information about Kinikinik Restaurant and store or Pasture to Plate phone (250) 394-6000 or email email@example.com. For more info about Chilcotin Harvest phone (250) 394-4000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also visit www.pasturetoplate.ca.
LeRae Haynes is a freelance writer, songwriter, community coordinator for Success by 6, member of Perfect Match dance band and instigator of lots of music with kids .