Hi! I’m Kaitlyn Johnson, the founder and head chef at The Farmstead Table. I began cooking when I was six years old. When other kids were out riding their bicycles or playing video games, I was in the kitchen practicing new recipes from my Mickey Mouse cookbook. Eventually, I taught myself to make more and more complex dishes, like pâte à choux and homemade butternut squash agnolotti with guanciale. That passion has followed me throughout my 15+ years as a professional chef. After culinary school, I worked as a catering chef, a corporate chef, a cake designer, and a pastry chef. My job has led me from San Diego to Los Angeles, to San Francisco, and now to Boston. My culinary philosophy is derived from all aspects of the culinary world. But nothing gives me more joy than cooking for my friends and family, and enjoying the food in their company.
Having grown up in kitchens where men predominantly ruled, I was constantly on the lookout for female chefs who could not only stand on the line right along with the boys, but cook circles around them too. I admire Alice Waters for the innovative California cuisine movement she helped to pioneer in the 1970’s. I love farm-to-table food with a strong emphasis on seasonality, and Alice Waters is the “mother” of that cuisine. Since I believe food has to be beautiful as well as tasty, I admire chefs like Dominique Crenn who tend to use food as artistic expression. Her food has movement, and thought, and beauty…. and is delicious too! And because I was always the girl who wanted to try to outdo the boys with the most elaborate or creative dishes, I look to chefs like April Bloomfield for her adventurous, no-holds-barred approach to cooking. April is known for “snout-to-tail” cooking in which she creatively uses all parts of an animal to ensure there is no food waste. I admire her ability to go against what is “normal” or “safe” to showcase a side of food that many people may not realize is just as gourmet as a lobster or an aged steak.
I love cooking because it gives me infinite opportunities to be creatively expressive as well as constantly challenged. The industry is always expanding and changing, and there is always something new to learn. When writing a recipe, I try to apply multiple techniques and flavor profiles while also giving thought to the aesthetic of the dish. I try to hit it all: salty, sweet, spicy, acidic; contrasting textures and colors; seasonality; different methods (braised, sous vide, fried). After that, it’s just trial and error (albeit a very delicious one!) until I find the perfect recipe. But because I always want to challenge myself, my “signature” dishes are anything but final; to my mind, there is always room for improvement.
The Farmstead Table
My approach to cooking comes inherently from the earth. Farm-to-table cuisine embraces local, sustainable agriculture as the root of food that is more flavorful, nutrient-rich, and socially conscious. At the heart of this movement is the farmstead: the land on a farm and all of its buildings, including the barn, homestead, root cellar, and silo, among others. And at the heart of the farm is the kitchen table, where food is shared and bread is broken. Eating is a sociocultural activity; it is when families come together and talk about their day, reconnecting with each other over a warm meal that was cooked with love. This is the heart of my passion for cooking.
Thank you for visiting The Farmstead Table! If you have any questions, recipe ideas, comments, or even just want to talk about delicious food, I’d love to hear from you. You can reach me here or connect with me on Facebook and Instagram.
– Chef Kaitlyn Johnson