Come Wander

Tristan Hertzog

Owner of From the Ground Up Culinary

Calabogie, ON

Tristan Hertzog is no stranger to the hospitality and food industry with 18 years of experience under his hat. From traveling and working in some of the Top 25 restaurants to privately working for the Royal Family he has created a powerhouse experience from his knowledge of agritourism, nature and local food practices with From The Ground Up Culinary.

Taking his love for the outdoors and fine dining, Tristan is bridging the gap between food, nature and table and has begun to share that passion by teaching students going to Fellowes High School in Pembroke about how to fuel their love for good food. Students are set with a full running food processing station, greenhouse, kitchen and restaurant, therefore encouraging that connection with food and learning to express their creativity through healthy patterns. You can tell Tristan is in his element by the way students are smiling and eager to let him know what’s happening with their day as he enters the classroom.

Tell me a little bit about yourself and where you started!

I have been in the industry since I graduated high school, so nearing 18 years now. I received my journeyman Red Seal from SIAST and am a member of The International Sommelier Guild holding the advanced level 2. I have travelled and worked in some amazing tourist destinations. I have had the privilege to privately work for some amazing people and companies, including the Royal Family. I am currently completing my degree in Education!

Amazing! With plans to complete your degree in Education, it’s clear you’re both really committed to this program at Fellowes and other programs like this in general. Can you tell me why you are so passionate about it? What does this mean or how does this program help the students who take it?

I get fired up about this one!!!! After being a chef in the industry and still having culinary students coming out of college not understanding that not everything gets dropped off at the back of a truck, it truly scares me. They aren’t aware of the products that they are using and since its driven by those who become the chefs, it’s now time for students to notice things that are healthy, that are great economically and to apply that knowledge in the industry.

The program here at Fellowes has so many amazing people behind the scenes who have built this into what it is today that it is hard not to be passionate about it. Just speaking to anyone involved is inspiration in itself. These basic life skills, for me personally is something that in my mind has been missing in secondary education for quite some time now. It’s a pleasure to be able to teach students about growing, nurturing, harvesting, and cooking their own food. The social and communal aspect of eating is what drives me as our culinary lab has become a hub for anyone looking for a snack or just a great safe place to be themselves.

The idea of eating as a whole family unit is a bit lost these days and hopefully, we can initiate a comeback. Being able to visit local farms, taste and use local products is phenomenal. It also adds to the program that the greenhouse and garden add a dimension that most restaurants would love to have. Our working restaurant is also an amazing place for the students to be proud and show off their personal creations!

Speaking of personal creations, the dishes that I just tasted by two of your students are mouth watering. I cannot contain my taste buds! Homemade root beer?! Unbelievable! I would have never been able to create this when I was there age. What do these two have planned for the future?

They are two of my students who made a very strong connection based on their beliefs of good natural food! They are both graduating high school this year with plans to attend culinary college. They have both been offered positions within From The Ground Up as they both live and breathe the same belief system as the business! Extremely excited for these two and what they can bring.

From the Ground Up offers some amazing experiences from culinary classes to pop up services. Can you tell me your favourite or most popular offering?

From The Ground Up is a collaboration between my love for good quality dining and being outdoors in nature. The premise of the business is to showcase private dining with high quality restaurant style food and service anywhere. I am equipped with a fully functioning outdoor solar powered kitchen (carb executing) and the main focus of the dining experience is locally sourced or wild foraged products.

“Covert Culinary Parties” are the most popular service we offer. A surprise dining experience focused on beautiful outdoor landscapes and food paired dining to match. The catch is our clients don’t know the location of where or what they will be eating until the day of the event. Details are sent out so that when clients arrive, they find out what the evening holds (dining is always outdoors). It is a lot of fun as the dining is mostly family style and you are encouraged to get social and enjoy the beauty of people, nature, and food. The 3 best things in life!

People, nature and food are important and I can see that the local community is also important to you. What makes using local ingredients important in each dish that you create and how you create it?
A tomato should never be in the fridge. The fresher the better and the more local the better. The relationships that are created when using local ingredients, the community that is created. The work put into creating all of this is definitely worth it.

Earlier you talked about foraging. It is definitely an art and with everything that was tasted today, it really puts what I put on my plate into perspective! What has been your favourite place to forage?

It’s not about the foraging it’s about the actual interaction with the food, the environment and how it works together. Heading outside to listen to the birds, smelling the moss, plus enjoying the time with my family as I bring my kids, heightens the experience. I put more respect into my work and take the time to research what is put on the plate.

Where do you hope to see From the Ground Up a year from now? What would you like those who visit to know about From the Ground Up Culinary?

The whole heart of the business is to bridge the gap between the farm and the consumer. If one dish from me sends the client to the farm then that’s good for me. 9/10 it’s the quality of the ingredient and not the chef who cooked it.