Life is filled with great opportunities, if you are willing to take some chances. That is what happened when Elaine followed her life-long passion for food by purchasing La Ferme Black River, following a 25 year stint in accounting and business. After a major turkey shortage was averted during her first Thanksgiving at La Ferme, Elaine has learned that there is a solution to every problem. It’s not always easy, but with a bit of luck and a lot of perseverance, every problem and challenge can be tackled.
Elaine’s thirst for knowledge and new skills have been tested on a daily basis as she interacts with customers, farmers, cheese makers, suppliers and other food gurus to make sure that La Ferme offers high quality, unique products to the marketplace. Elaine has been fortunate to have amassed a team of equally passionate and dynamic food professionals who are all anxious to share their love for fine foods and cooking with anyone who will listen.
Like most women today, Elaine is an expert multi-tasker who loves nothing more than finishing off a hard week at La Ferme by throwing an impromptu dinner party for 20. Her children have been raised on 5 year aged cheddar, Parmigiano Reggiano, and have truly learned the difference that quality makes to cooking and eating great meals. While Elaine has an impressive collection of over 300 cookbooks, she has trouble sticking to a recipe.
Great wine deserves the company of great food. After spending the better part of the last two decades building an impressive wine cellar, Mark was always on the lookout for great food to go with all his great wine. Look no further than La Ferme Black River. An entrepreneurial spirit and an itch to try something new meant that La Ferme quickly became a new family endeavour. The learning curve has been steep but the rewards have been well worth it.
Mark continues to practice law on a part-time basis. When he is not in the middle of negotiating legal contracts Mark can be found trying his hand at new tasks like managing La Ferme’s building operations, packing up orders for customers, managing a fleet of delivery vehicles and even sometimes driving throughout Ontario to deliver orders. If you happen to catch him on the road, make sure to ask him about his “Diesel” story!
One of Mark’s secret hobbies is to shop for and change light bulbs. And boy is he lucky at La Ferme… he gets to change all the bulbs he can reach, even the ones in the freezer! Mark is an avid reader and historian who knows more about the 1800’s than the average Jeopardy contestant. His favourite pastime is enjoying a great home cooked meal with La Ferme products along with a bottle (or three) of his favourite wines. If you are ever up for a good challenge, try playing a game of Trivial Pursuit with Mark – just don’t bet on winning!
Shai has always believed that passion is life’s greatest ingredient. Passion has guided Shai throughout his life. After earning a Business degree which included studying in Barcelona for six months, Shai started his career out in the financial world. After a brief stint he quickly decided to change paths and follow his passion for food! He traded in his tie for an apron at his family’s butcher shop and after a period of handling cleavers and knives, he joined the La Ferme sales team.
Shai considers himself incredibly lucky that his job allows him to constantly expand his knowledge of food and share his experiences with both customers and co-workers. In addition to being Director of Sales at La Ferme, Shai also happens to be one of La Ferme’s best customers, always anxious to try whatever is new and exciting. He finds that recommending products that he has tried and loves is the best way to enrich the sales experience for both himself and all of his customers.
Shai spends most of his days driving around the street of Toronto but if it weren’t for his GPS, he would never get anywhere! He is always happy to recount stories of his latest amazing meals or new cheese discoveries. When he is not working, Shai spends lots of time with his dog, Kelev. He also admits to having a weakness for kitchen supply stores and is quickly running out of storage space in his new kitchen. Shai is already the proud owner of a sous vide machine, a deli slicer and a water carbonator. His girlfriend does not know that he is currently saving up for a Vitamix and a Big Green Egg. Please keep his secret!
It takes a tough man to make a tender sandwich
Ben has spent many years on the quest for the “best sandwich ever”. As a young child Ben would never even look at a peanut butter sandwich or grilled cheese made with Kraft singles. Grilled cheese made with a 2 year aged cheddar – now we are talking about a real sandwich. His appreciation for quality ingredients combined with outstanding execution led him to pursue a hospitality education. After spending some years working front of the house, Ben decided to join the family business and he has received a 360 degree view of the world at La Ferme. He has especially enjoyed tasting all of the great products that he is now selling.
While eating quality food has been one of Ben’s priorities, learning to cook has not been so prominent. As a result, he can guide you through many of the best fast food joints in the GTA. Searching for the best burgers and sandwiches is one of his favourite past-times. He will happily share his knowledge with you at any time.
Great tastes come to those who wait. After spending more than 20 years eating only Kraft Dinner, pasta (with real Parmigiano) and bagels, Stacey learned there is more to food than just starch. What better place to learn this than as part of the La Ferme team. Stacey has become the resident cheese expert and has traveled to rural Quebec, New York City, Montreal, Paris and beyond to hone her knowledge and cheese-eating abilities. She is constantly trying out all of the cheeses that come through the doors at La Ferme.
As graduate of an esteemed Graphic Design and Communications program, Stacey brings a creative flair to the look of La Ferme. She is a design perfectionist and fiddles with logos, colours, fonts, and images endlessly until they are just right. Stacey has jumped into the world of social media and spends lots of time blogging and tweeting with other food lovers in Toronto. She is proud that she can now carry around 50 pound boxes of chickens and ducks and that she can identify cheeses by the cardboard boxes that they come in.
When she isn’t packing out orders at La Ferme, Stacey loves to hang out with her friends and she is part of an A Cappella choir. She wants to travel the world and learn more about great meats and cheeses. Having conquered her picky eating habits, Stacey’s next challenge is to learn how to cook – anything other than KD!
“Think outside the bun.”
Marvin is not your typical accountant. He is not much for getting bogged down in rules and has always preferred to just get things done. Perhaps not the best quality for an auditor but it’s great for creative problem solving. “I’ve never met a problem that doesn’t have a solution”, is the mantra that has led Marvin to enjoy and thrive in multiple careers for over 35 years. After a short stint working as an auditor and accountant, Marvin traded his calculator for a frequent flyer card, travelling the world as an international sales agent. He called Israel his home for the past 24 years and has recently returned to Toronto to join La Ferme.
He has had a quick education in game meats, cheeses and collections. He seems to prefer collections the most right now but we are working to get him past his “meat and potato” upbringing! Marvin has a vast knowledge of the best Kosher restaurants in the world and has even come across a few that have foie gras on their menus. If you can’t find him at La Ferme, he is likely off on some new travel adventure, and while he may still not eat adventurously, he is learning to take great food pictures!
George spent the first years of his culinary career cutting cheese by hand, without a wire in sight. He swears there's something more intimate and telling, about simply using a knife, although he doesn’t necessarily recommend it. Over the years, he's been a cheese buyer for a small independent shop with a single 8-foot case, to a large international corporation. He’s taught culinary classes as part of the Professional Fromager program at George Brown College, worked everywhere from Kensington and St. Lawrence Market, to Whole Foods Market, and even had a stint running a restaurant.
He spends entirely too much time searching for cheese at its peak (psst: it’s around three years for most cheddars). When he’s not buying, selling, or talking cheese, he’s probably watching baseball or writing code. He runs a series of online Toronto sports hubs that he personally designed and developed.
George’s passion in life always brings him back to cheese. You might want to know what his favourite is, but he won’t say. It's like having a favourite child, there’s nothing to gain from divulging which one is the best.