Joy Road (Part 1/2): The Homestead

How many meals do we eat in our lives?  Thousands.  And how many of those meals do we remember?  I mean truly remember, from the menu and the wine, to details like the single, ripe strawberry placed under your cup.  Very few, I think, very few.  


If you have the opportunity to eat a dinner by Joy Road Catering, that dinner will be one of those rare, remember-it-for-life kind of meals, I promise.


 Joy Road began eight years ago, when chefs Dana Ewart and Cameron Smith drove across the country from Montreal (you can see their serious street creds here). 


They moved to the Okanagan, land of infinite possibilities when it comes to food and wine, and bought a house on Joy Road, for which they named their business. 


It began as a modestly-staffed operation and still is; they have just twelve employees during the summer, eight of them full-time.  This fiercely hard-working team may be small, but it has built an enormous reputation.  

They first made a name for themselves at the Penticton Farmers' Market, started catering, and eventually began taking on the wine-makers dinners for which they’re now famous.  Each week, they feed over a thousand people through various markets, dinners, and catered events, all the while canning local fruits and vegetables for sale and maintaining their small homestead. 


It’s a staggering amount of work, and their exceptionally high standards are maintained through it all.  

From May to September, they operate seven days a week, rising early in the morning and working late into the night.  Over the years, Dana and Cam have transformed the bottom floor of their house into ground zero – the once-unfinished basement is now a huge kitchen with storage, walk-in fridges, industrial ovens, endless racks and equipment, as well as an area for Cam’s charcuterie prep. 


They raise pigs (large blacks) to produce their own salumi, and their chickens lay enough eggs to meet the needs of all their baking. 

Joy Road is all about “Cuisine du Terroir,” meaning cuisine particular to the area in which it is grown and is eaten.  The seasonal food of the Okanagan is the basis of their culinary philosophy; they don’t cook what they’re comfortable or familiar with, they cook what’s available to them, and source high-quality ingredients from local producers with whom they have personal relationships.  Dana and Cam spend a lot of money on the food they serve, and because they respect it, they’re incredibly particular about how it’s prepared and served.  


Their dishes include as many local and organic ingredients as possible, and all the scraps leftover from food prep are composted or fed to the chickens and pigs. 


Dana described their large blacks as the “best-fed pigs in the world,” just one of the reasons why Cam’s charcuterie is so amazing. 


Not only do those pigs finish off organically grown vegetable scraps, they also feast on spent grains from a local brewery and leftover whey from Upper Bench.  Here are some more photos of Dana and Cam’s impressive little homestead - please check back tomorrow for a write-up about one of their Alfresco dinners at God’s Mountain we attended!