We first met Jana Nixon back in the spring of 2015, when she posted this photo on Instagram that won our hearts, and won her our Staub Cooking Pot Contest. Ever since, we've drooled over her photos and beautifully styled recipes, which makes this fun collaboration one we're pretty excited about.
In the coming weeks, we'll be sharing three delicious recipes that Jana has kindly shared with us, and we invite you to learn a little more about this lovely soul for yourself (and steal her trick for carrying Maldon salt in her purse like we are). She was kind enough to share a few thoughts with us below, along with this super tasty recipe using GRAIN Farro. Happy long weekend!
Q&A with Vancouver's Jana Nixon
What do you do for your day job?
By day digital marketing, but by night... glorified home cook.
What drives your for passion for food?
Growing up we always had home cooked meals, which included produce from our own garden as much as possible. I have fond memories of standing on a stool at our island helping my parents prepare dinners. And Sunday night dinners happened every week, I love how food brings people together.
How has your home cooking evolved as part of your interest in creating beautiful images?
I think because both come natural to me - I thoroughly enjoy every step of the processes; from cooking the food to styling it...then eat it, or even better, feeding people! It's a creative outlet, especially since I can be very analytical.
What is the number one most used ingredient in your kitchen?
Salt! I carry a little tin of Maldon sea salt in my bag for 'just in case' reasons.
What is the biggest challenge you face when sourcing ingredients?
Sometimes I get inspired and what I want isn't in season; so I have a notebook I'm always writing ideas in. I'm thankful Vancouver has a great community that supports local producers/farmers, which makes it much easier to get what I need locally sourced.
What is the kitchen tool you can’t live without?
Hmm, my pistachio kitchen-aid mixer, her name is Martha.
What do you eat for breakfast?
...peanut butter. And tea.
Who is your biggest influencer?
There are so many great up and coming chefs in Vancouver that I admire and have had the privilege to work with in some capacity. But really, anyone that follows their passion, whether within the food & beverage industry or not.
What do you do to re-charge?
Run - I love to run alone, at night with loud music. I get a lot of "that's unsafe" but I just need a place to be alone, escape, let my mind wander.
Favorite food city?
Well, this is tough. I lived in Italy when I was 19 and really came to understand the art of slow living; cooking whole meals using fresh ingredients and really enjoying what you're eating. Of course, Portland is an obvious one, but this past year I went to Montreal with someone special, who also loves to eat and everything we had was amazing (bagels at 1am, yes please).
Have you always cooked with grains and legumes like you do now?
No, although I was a vegetarian/vegan for over half my life, I didn't experiment much with them like I did once I moved to Vancouver and found great products like GRAIN.
What is your current favorite grain to work with?
The Farro - it's amazing on its own or in a dish, hot or cold, any and all ways.
We feel grateful to have the support of so many amazing cooking enthusiasts in our city. What are some other noteworthy local personalities making a difference in the way you cook? Why?
I would have to say Dallah El (@thedallah). He loves food, cooking, and to feed people. Everything he makes has a reason; an ode to his heritage or a story that goes with every meal/post - I really appreciate his passion. Recently we had a conversation about food, dining, and what role social media plays in this world; it was a great reminder about being genuine, valuing what's imporant and its purpose.
Purchase our GRAIN Farro for this recipe here.
Farro Salad with Roasted Shallots & Herbed Oil:
3 cups cooked Farro
8-10 shallots, peeled and roughly chopped
Half bunch parsley, chopped
Half bunch of cilantro, chopped
Half bunch of mint, chopped
Handful of chives, chopped
Handful fresh tarragon, chopped
½ cup olive oil
Zest + juice of 1 lemon
Cook the farro (according to box directions)*I used half vegetable stock, half water. Chopped the shallots roughly into chunks, lay on a lined baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and sea salt. Roast until golden.
Put ½ cup of olive oil in a jar, add herbs, chopped, into the oil, add lemon zest and juice of lemon and a good pinch of salt. Shake the jar, and let it sit while the shallots roast. In a large bowl, toss the cooked Farro in the herbed oil and mix in shallots. Enjoy right away, or let chill in the fridge for a couple of hours to let the flavours develop.
Growing up on Vancouver Island, Jana moved to Vancouver to continue her education. Now, working in Marketing for the Food & Beverage industry; Jana combines her knowledge in marketing with her passion for food to develop strategies and events for restaurants. Free time is spent in the kitchen learning new recipes to share with loved ones or eating at a favourite spot.