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!
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, a large international corporation, and everything in between. 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 two years for most cheddar). 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.
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.
Niall committed herself to the art of Cheesemongering (yes, that’s a word) when she spent an exciting Christmas season behind the slate counter at Neal’s Yard Dairy in London, UK. This experience set Niall on a cheese journey that continues today. Her cheese knowledge is huge and it just takes a bit of gentle prodding to get her going. She has an uncanny ability to taste and discern cheese characteristics.
In addition to working as a Cheesemonger in Toronto and the UK, Niall also spent some time working in cheese affinage, sold cheese at a market in Italy, and babysat a goat. She has taught several Cheese Appreciation courses at George Brown College in Toronto. At La Ferme Niall is responsible for all things cheese – purchasing, describing, quality control and of course, selling. There is a special kind of satisfaction in finding the perfect piece of cheese for each customer so be sure to talk to Niall when you are on your next cheese quest.
Dream big! That is how Jared has lived both his professional and personal life. Jared has always enjoyed sports, both as a competitor and a spectator and his drive to win has always influenced his behavior. After graduating with a Business Communications degree Jared dabbled in website design, event management and mixology. These building blocks led him into sales, and ultimately, he was able to combine his passion for food and sales working in the food business. He spends his days at La Ferme building customer relationships, assists with order fulfillment and manages our Corporate Gifts program.
Jared’s positive attitude is reflected in his sales approach of always expecting good things to happen. He takes great pride in providing the highest level of customer service and he loves introducing quality products to all his customers. He loves to explore the city for new places to eat and drink and he loves to travel. He looks forward to exploring the world, going to concerts and enjoying great food in the very near future.
James joins La Ferme Black River as our first employee who is truly bilingual. He was born in La Tuque, Quebec, Canada’s largest city – who knew that tidbit? James has spent over a decade working in the fine food industry, with a major emphasis on imported artisanal cheeses. When it comes to cheese, he has done it all – cleaning, cutting, packing, selling and most importantly, tasting. He will be able to share many interesting facts and tidbits about your favourite cheeses. He also has a love and passion for travelling and he has spent time in Havana, Tokyo and Vancouver in the past few years.
James is a self acclaimed “foodie” so he fits in to the La Ferme stereotype perfectly. He is proud of his culinary skills, and he tells us he can cook an awesome cassoulet – we are still waiting to taste this though! His favourite cheeses are Soumaintrain and Cantal so be sure to ask him for more information of these french classics. His customer service skills are outstanding, and he looks forward to sharing his knowledge and expertise across both our foodservice and retail customers. When our phone rings and someone asks, “Avez-vous un vendeur qui parle français?”, we will finally be able to answer, “Oui”!
Ali loves food! She gets great joy out of trying new foods, flavour combinations and cuisines, searching the city for all sorts of “The Best”. For Ali, the joy of food is an experience. Her particular passion is sandwiches and where there is meat and cheese between two slices of bread, you are likely to find Ali. She even has her own blog post which chronicles her eating and cooking adventures.
Ali has been working in restaurants and enjoying the magic that restaurants provide since she was old enough to work. Never short on conversation, Ali is one of those charismatic servers who you are lucky to find in a restaurant. During the COVID-19 pandemic Ali was challenged to find other businesses to expand her food expertise, so landing on La Ferme’s doorsteps was a win-win opportunity. Ali is busy learning about the thousands of products that La Ferme sells and she is especially loving all of the different cheeses. She has become our resident Videographer so be on the look-out for Ali’s “Fun with Food at La Ferme” features.
Marly is our in-house scientist and bread baker extraordinaire. She joined La Ferme after various studies including food management, computer science and psychology but she really should have studied to become a food scientist with her interest and depth of knowledge of what makes food food! She has an incredible wealth of knowledge, much of which is self-learned through hours and years on internet research. Her responsibilities at La Ferme include order fulfillment, website development, and computer technician. Give her a problem and she will happily solve it.
Marly has taken several bread making courses through George Brown College and she has a sourdough starter that is over five years old now. She is constantly trying to master her skills, much to the joy of the La Ferme team. Nothing brings an office group together more than a freshly baked bread, with perhaps, one or two cheeses to taste. Marly prides herself on being a “Procrastibaker” – someone who prefers baking instead of doing what you should be doing! At least this is one habit that we can all benefit from!