FRESH FACES | Jeff Massey
Meet Jeff Massey, Farm to Table Chef at Restaurant 62
Q: What is Restaurant 62 (R62) and what is the secret to your success?
R62 is a stand-alone, farm-to-table restaurant that has been serving the Fraser Valley for a decade. I have been working in kitchens and, as a chef, for the past 25 years, and wanted to bring the ‘Vancouver dining experience’ to the Valley. Even though Abbotsford was a chain-restaurant community, I recognized the opportunity and decided to take the plunge.
Our secret is to simply to put good food on the table and to keep people coming back. The rest of the dining experience brings great service, and a wine list that best complements the food.
Q: Why did you decide to become a farm-to-table restaurant?
Truth be told, initially, we didn’t set out to be a farm-to-table destination. I was used to the Vancouver scene where you couldn’t source farm-fresh ingredients easily, but I would drive to and from the restaurant, around the local neighbourhoods, and just saw beautiful mountains, farms, and rolling pastures. I became inspired, and then the farmers came in to experience R62 and we started developing relationships.
I visited their farms, met their families, and learned about their philosophies and relationship to the land. I felt their pride and knew how emotionally invested they were in the foods that they produced. The quality of the food wasn’t comparable to anything else I could source, and the taste spoke for itself. The savings and reduced carbon footprint were added benefits as deliveries were made from within a few miles.
It just made sense.
Our team was challenged and forced to be creative as we were given seasonal products. Sometimes, we planned a longer run with a menu item, but had to cut it short due to uncontrollable weather fluctuations. People care about where their food comes from, and we can answer those questions. We watch our guests’ faces light up when they see familiar farms on the menu, and they feel great knowing they are supporting their very own community. The gifts of buying locally and supporting local farms has been rewarding in so many ways, and Abbotsford has a very strong community built around supporting one another.
Q: Has Abbotsford embraced R62 and what changes have you witnessed within the community?
At first, people thought of us as a special occasion restaurant—a place to celebrate your anniversary or birthday—but now they just see a team cooking up a storm in the kitchen, followed by smiles and welcoming hello’s. Our guests know that we are passionate about farm-to-plate and celebrating the landscape that Abbotsford has been blessed with.
We have watched a younger generation hit the ‘nail on the head’ as they pour their hearts into their businesses. People are picking their own fruit again, capturing the freshness and quality with canning, and abandoning chain-restaurants in favour of privately owned restaurants.
We’re going back to the way it once was.