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Idaho’s Farm to Chef Connection: Yellow Brick Café

Idaho Preferred’s “Idaho Farm to Chef Connection” is a special video series featuring chefs from throughout the state of Idaho who are committed to using locally-sourced ingredients from Idaho farm and ranch families.  We are delighted to feature these culinary artists and their farm-to-fork restaurants.

Supporting Local Farms is a Top Priority

We recently met up with Kathy McRae for coffee and conversation on the rooftop patio of her popular diner, Yellow Brick Café, in downtown Twin Falls, Idaho. Yellow Brick serves up wholesome, seasonally inspired breakfasts and lunch plates and a rotating weekend brunch menu. The interior space is bright and airy with warm hues, exposed brick walls and hardwood floors, and an open kitchen that is clean, clean clean…

Kathy started her cooking career in Sacramento, CA and later worked in kitchens in the Napa Valley region, true ag-inspired foodie communities. When it came time to open her own restaurant, Kathy couldn’t stop thinking about Twin Falls. It had everything she wanted–family roots, a renaissance in downtown revitalization, and most importantly, farm community.

“The original concept was always hyper-seasonal and locally grown food that nourishes people and inspires them to eat healthier.” Kathy says. 

Head Chef, Jimmy Vasquez, sources beef from Krista Huettig of Red Star Ranch and frequently collaborates with Bonnie Peters of Peters Family Farms.  “From a chef’s standpoint, I’m getting a local product that’s just been harvested a day before… a couple hours before… There’s a big difference in taste, a different experience, and as a chef I enjoy having that at my disposal.” he says.

Yellow Brick Café sources its tomatoes, strawberries, greens and peppers from the Peters Family Farm, and at the end of each growing season, Jimmy and Bonnie shift into planning mode. He will hand her a list of ingredients needed to stock the kitchen, which Bonnie appreciates because it helps her plan future crops.

Bonnie is all too eager to experiment growing different varieties for the café. She enjoys trying her hand at new crops and last spring reserved a corner of the garden to plant soybeans for Yellow Brick Cafe’s edamame dish. 

Kathy’s goal is to help inspire and cultivate a culinary community that prioritizes supporting local farms, and she has learned to embrace the reality that sourcing local products is sometimes difficult. “But it is that much more rewarding when we do find the products and producers,” she says. The biggest surprise was finding River Road Farm in nearby Buhl, Idaho, that grows Idaho figs and seven different types of citrus fruits in their greenhouse– fruit that wouldn’t first come to mind when thinking about local Idaho produce.

“We are able to work with all our local producers and ask them to grow things they haven’t before, and that’s where the magic happens…when you meet others who are as excited about food as you are, and you get to do new and exciting things. It forces everyone to grow.”