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In the Kitchen with Jenni Lessard: Chef brings traditional Saskatchewan flavour to new pork recipes

By Lynn Redl-Huntington

Chef Jenni Lessard is a familiar face to many food lovers across Saskatchewan. The award-winning chef and former restaurant owner is a judge on Food Network Canada’s Fire Masters and was been named one of Canada’s Next Top 10 Chefs by the Globe and Mail.

Closer to home, this rising star has recently turned her attention, and love of local foods, to developing a series of new pork recipes for Sask Pork and its consumer arm, PickPork Saskatchewan. Lessard has just released six new pork recipes that can be found on Sask Pork’s website and social media channels.

“Pork can be used in comfort food meals, the fanciest of dinners or a casual picnic. It’s economical, easy to find and not finicky to cook with,” explained Lessard, whose introduction to eating local came from her upbringing near a lake in northern Saskatchewan, a few kilometres away from La Ronge. She spent her time cooking and baking using foraged ingredients from the forest around her family home, dreaming of owning her own restaurant some day.

“I’m a child of the 70’s so one of the dishes in my mom’s weekday repertoire was the classic pork chops smothered with canned mushroom soup. She must have done something a little extra, though, because when I came in from outside at supper time, the house smelled so delicious and comforting. She served it with brown rice and steamed carrots, and I still crave that meal,” enthused Lessard, who’s first food business was a hamburger stand called Flight Delight at the La Ronge Airport with two friends at the age of 14. She’s been cooking commercially ever since then.

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Welcome back to another episode of In Swine Versation. Leon Sheets, is the owner of a Pig Farm from Ionia, Iowa with raising approximately 33,000 pigs.

1.Introduction to Pig Farming Journey: Started as a family farm in Ionia, Iowa.

2.Passion for pig farming led to the growth of the farm to approximately 33,000 pigs. Emphasis on sustainability and success through responsible practices.

3. Evolution of Social Media Presence: Initially not active on social media. Felt a void in communicating how food is prepared. Embraced storytelling to demystify the farming process.

4. Highlights "We Care" initiative and emphasizes a passion-driven approach. Not a paid blogger; success measured in fostering understanding.

5. Passion and Concerns in the Pork Industry: Prop 12 stands out as a hot topic. Active involvement and advocacy for sustainable pig farming practices.

6.International Farming Experience: Traveled to Hutterite Colonies in Canada. Shared experiences, learned different farming practices, and built connections.

Humility in Learning: "I'm a Pig Farmer, what do I know?" is a humble perspective. Inspired a T-shirt to convey continuous learning and improvement.

Sustained Legacy in Farming and Industry: Aspires to leave a legacy of responsible and sustainable pig farming. Focus on animal welfare, environmental stewardship, and community engagement. A positive narrative to inspire industry-wide adoption of sustainable practices.