Q&A: Lisa Becklund
Living Kitchen Farm and Dairy
Lisa Becklund runs Living Kitchen Farm and Dairy, a culinary destination in Depew. Guests can visit for themed, multi-course farm table dinners from April to December. Go to livingkitchenfarmanddairy.com to find out more.
Tell us about Living Kitchen.
Originally, Living Kitchen was going to be a farm only. It was out of my poor gardening skills that our farm table dinners came alive. ... I had worked in the kitchens of many Seattle restaurants since the age of 14 and was turning in my chef knife for a hoe. I loved the farmers’ market more than anything and wanted to be on the selling side of the booth rather than the buying side, and I tried ... but I couldn’t make enough money to cover my expenses. I was at the point where I didn’t think I could make it, and I really needed to buy goat feed. The only thing I knew to do was cook, so I threw together some invites and emailed them to the folks on our mailing list advertising a “farm table dinner.” And the dinners took on a life and a quality of their own.
You were at the forefront of Tulsa’s farm-to-table movement. How have you seen it change?
A tremendous amount of progress has been made in the last 14 years, but it has been kicks and starts. For a lot of chefs and restaurants it sounds like a good idea — maybe from a marketing perspective — but the challenges arise: logistics, absurd menu flexibility, staff training and a no-waste mentality. If you don’t have the drive and passion in the first place, it just becomes a profound burden. It was easy for me because I don’t just love fresh local produce. I love the farmers, with all my heart. … The relationships I have are no less important than the vegetables and meats.
What do you cook for yourself, when you’re not cooking for others?
Yeah, that’s a problem. My daily mainstay is garlic fried rice, kimchi and a couple of fried eggs. I eat a lot of eggs.
What’s your favorite go-to ingredient?
Preserved lemon. I didn’t grow it, it’s not local, but it’s delicious and adds complexity and depth to anything it’s added to.
What’s something people would be surprised to learn about you?
That I intentionally left Seattle to move to Oklahoma and love it.
How would you describe Tulsa’s food scene to someone who has never been here?
That it is a beer scene with great food.
What’s on the horizon for you and for Living Kitchen?
Just trying not to screw it up. No, really. It’s harder than it looks. Also, to just keep getting better at what we do, staying curious and grateful to the kind people who have put their trust in us and make the trek out to the farm never knowing what the menu or the weather will be ... It feels like we’re all in this together. What a privilege this is.