'Ranch to Table' - The food is as good as the work is hard
With the growing popularity of farm-to-table eateries throughout the country, a show such as “Ranch to Table” seems well-timed.
Streaming currently on Magnolia Network, the half-hour series follows the day-to-day lives of Elizabeth Poett, her husband Austin and their children as they work on their 14,000-acre ranch, Rancho San Julian near Santa Barbara, Calif., where they raise cattle, chickens, sheep and pigs and grow apples, apricots, berries, beans and all manner of vegetables.
The work is hard and nonstop but the rewards are great as Elizabeth, who has no culinary training, then turns those uber-fresh ingredients into delicious family meals as well as incorporates them into her own creations and ancestral recipes.
It’s a labor of love for the seventh generation rancher, who got the idea for the show from meeting people at farmer’s markets and bringing them to Rancho San Julian for the ranch experience.
“I started doing these ranch/table events,” she explains, “where people could come to the ranch. We’d do maybe a canning class, maybe we’d make some jam … . Always my goal has been to have people connect with food in that way and be able to experience it more and that’s what I have always wanted to do. And so for the show, it’s very exciting for me because I wanted to be able to do it on a bigger level and be able to really hopefully inspire people all around who would like to have a little bit more connection and understanding of where their food comes from and also just really enjoy food and cooking and just the whole experience of it.”
And there is a sense of community on the ranch. With an operation this large, the family can do only so much so friends and neighbors will pitch in. In return, Elizabeth and her family will reciprocate or she will do something known as a Santa Maria-style barbecue for everyone, on a grill that is raised and lowered over the coals on a pulley to control cooking speed.
In the premiere, she prepared a regional favorite – a tri tip sirloin with a dry rub and garlic clove inserted in the meat – on this contraption that has a long history in the area.
“I think you can really see what life is like on the ranch,” Poett says, “and how it is connected so much to the food and feeding people who come and help us work here on the ranch. I mean, that’s a huge part of this culture around here … . And being able to feed them a really good meal is just a really important aspect of this ranch and of this community. And I also love it, so it works well.”