Why We Love Creating New Recipes
Creating flavorful dishes using fresh ingredients is one of our favorite ways to enjoy the Tomatoes, Peppers, and Cucumbers we grow at Nature Fresh Farms! But developing new recipes is a craft that not everyone can master–that’s why we leave it to Chef Zach, our company’s culinary expert, to create new dishes that excite and intrigue. Chef Zach has the experience, creativity, and pizzazz needed to take our company’s recipe development game to new heights every day!
We’d love for you to meet Chef Zach, take a tour of our trial kitchen, learn more about our recipe development process, and try some of our Chef’s favorite recipe creations!
Meet Chef Zach
For the last 5 years, Chef Zach has been cooking up a storm in the Nature Fresh Farms kitchen to keep our team members fed with healthy lunches. Our Lunch Program was developed to provide our employees with tasty, healthy, high-quality, and affordable meals featuring a variety of Nature Fresh Farms products. By incorporating our products, we could showcase their incredible versatility and show everyone how to incorporate them into traditional and tasty recipes.
When Chef Zach isn’t cooking lunches to feed our team, he is experimenting in his kitchen! Whether he is creating a brand-new recipe from scratch, or tweaking one of his favorites, Chef Zach has a passion for fresh recipe creation.
One of Our Grow-To People
“We’re all pulling in the same direction, and everyone is always willing to help out and pitch in.”
Growing up, Zach L. always had an interest in cooking, learning many of his skills from his mom. When he was a teenager, his first job was at a hotel restaurant as a dishwasher–but he always kept his eye on the cooks. His managers noticed Zach taking an interest in cooking, and he quickly moved up the ranks, eventually running the kitchen! In 2015, Zach had the opportunity to join our team and has now become our Head Chef.
What Zach loves most about being a Chef is the fun, supportive atmosphere you can always find in a kitchen: “We basically have free range when it comes to getting artistic in the kitchen, which makes every day different and interesting. I have also built a lot of really good relationships in the kitchen because there is always comradery with our team!”
Zach describes Nature Fresh Farms as having a healthy culture: “I’ve never heard anyone who works here say ‘that’s not my job’. We all pitch in and help, and there is a great family atmosphere here. We also have great bosses who will never become complacent–they are always encouraging the company and their people to grow.”
Zach enjoys spending time with his wife and two dogs, cooking for family and friends, and traveling. He’s always sure to sample different cuisines throughout our community and in his travels.
Alongside his team in the kitchen, Zach is responsible for feeding our employees high-quality, healthy, delicious meals that always incorporate the products we grow! Zach also develops many new recipes to be shared on our website, encouraging our fans to eat more fresh produce. Zach is one of our Grow-To People!
Where the Magic Happens
Chef Zach spends most of his time cooking meals for our company’s lunch program in our industrial kitchen. This space is equipped with every kitchen appliance and tool his team needs to create hundreds of hot meals and healthy salads each day. All the appliances are industrial sized to allow for meal prep on a mass scale. But, while this industrial kitchen is designed for cooking large portions of food, Chef Zach also uses it as a big blank canvas when developing new recipes!
It’s a common occurrence for Chef Zach to present a new recipe that our team falls in love with: steamy soups, crisp salads, fancy sandwiches, you name it. When he discovers these dishes, Chef Zach brings them into our brand-new trial kitchen to finesse the ingredients, steps, and final touches before we put it on our Recipes page for everyone to enjoy. Our trial kitchen’s sleek design allows us to prepare, plate, and serve Chef Zach’s latest recipe creations in style!
The Recipe Development Process
We sat down with Chef Zach to ask him about the recipe development process, what he enjoys most about creating new recipes, and how he finds his recipe inspiration!
Q: What is your process when developing a new recipe?
A: First I like to think about the season: if I’m developing a recipe in the dead of winter, I like to make sure the dish incorporates seasonal ingredients and flavors that tend to comfort us during the cold winter months. Once I get into the process, I also like to be spontaneous and use what I have on hand, but I also like to take from my past cooking experiences and use ingredients that I’m comfortable with and enjoy. As I’m cooking, I taste as I go until I find just the right flavor combos!
Q: What’s your favorite part of developing recipes?
A: I love having free-range in the kitchen–being able to test recipes and try new things in the kitchen is a chef’s dream. Putting my own spin and personal touches on dishes is really special.
Q: What is most challenging about creating new dishes?
A: The most challenging part of creating new recipes is making sure everyone’s palate is happy! You have to find a balance of flavors that everyone will enjoy. But as a chef, I also have to face the reality that you can’t win them all!
Another challenge I face is ensuring all the ingredients in my recipes are locally sourced. Using fresh, local ingredients makes a huge difference in a dish’s flavor, but finding all my ingredients locally can sometimes be difficult. But once I find a great local supplier, I tend to stick with them!
Q: Where do you find recipe creation inspiration?
A: I find inspiration in a lot of different places! Sometimes I check in on my favorite celebrity chefs to see what they’ve been cooking recently. But I also look to my own past experiences and people in my circle for inspiration: this includes chefs I’ve worked with previously, peers and friends who cook as a hobby, and family members like my Mom and Oma. And enjoying a fancy meal at a local restaurant almost always gets my creative juices flowing!
Q: What are your go-to ingredients and spices that are often found in your dishes?
A: I have a pretty wide palate, but I also definitely have certain ingredients I just love to cook with.
Fresh herbs are a big one for me–I have a fresh herb garden at home every summer because I know these fresh ingredients can transform a dish. Some of my favorite fresh herbs are basil, rosemary, and thyme. But I know there is always a place for dried herbs and spices– my go-to’s are dry oregano, coriander, smoked paprika, cracked pepper, and kosher salt.
When it comes to fruits and veggies, I love cooking with fresh Tomatoes and Peppers because they are versatile and flavorful–it often seems like they can add great taste to almost any dish. But I can say the same about garlic and onions, two other fresh favorites of mine!
Q: What are your best tips for people interested in cooking more?
A: Cooking is always evolving, and no culinary principles are set in stone. If you don’t have certain ingredients on-hand, don’t be afraid to use a different spice, herb, or ingredient! Cooking is all about trial and error, as well as being creative with what you have in front of you. And most importantly: have fun!
Our Chef’s Favorite Recipes
Chef Zach has developed dozens of recipes with us over the years, but he definitely has his favorites! Check out his top three recipes: