By Colin Bado, TSB Staff
The dictionary defines the word passion as “a strong and barely controllable emotion.”
After I first met Robert Lyford, chef of Patina Green Home & Market, I had difficulty describing his perception of “food” to those who weren’t familiar with him or his store on the Square in downtown McKinney.
As a former sous chef in San Francisco who has returned to my hometown of McKinney, finding quality food in Texas can be challenging. Food is a lifestyle in San Francisco, and I had trouble finding someone who shared the same affinity for the quality of food as I do. Until I met Lyford.
Once I realized Chef Robert and I attended the same culinary school in San Francisco, we began conversing about local farms, seasonal produce and humanely raised animals. Robert’s eyes lit up with delight, and almost uncontrollably he was off, discussing his dedication to the concept of organically and locally grown produce. He displayed his undeniable passion in its purest form.
“The farms inspire me,” Lyford said. “The time and effort that goes into organic farming is hard for people to comprehend. I have the easy job.”
Patina Green offers an elegant storefront that offers timeless vintage home
accessories; andit also is a food market that serves lunch. The lunch menu offers a variety of grilled sandwiches, soups, sides and salads composed of seasonal heirloom produce.
Lyford takes the simplicity of a sandwich to another level by creating unique flavor
profiles using the produce that the local farms provide him. In 2012, Food Network magazine recognized Lyford’s Ham and cheese with smoked cheddar and jalapeno-peach jelly on jalapeno-cheddar bread as “the best sandwich in the state.” The menu changes daily; so be sure to look at the Patina Green website.
Patina Green personifies the concept of a “Mom and Pop” store that McKinney citizens love to support. Robert and his wife Kaci, along with Kaci’s mother Luan Van Winckel, opened the store, the goal of which was to enable each family member’s dream to come true and at the same time, share the day with the ones you love.
“As a cook, it is hard to maintain a normal lifestyle with your wife, due to the extreme hours,” Lyford said. “Patina Green enables us to do everything together. We’re a family, and that’s what’s important.”
The synergy that is created between the zealous organic farmer and the passionate chef epitomizes the concept of “localvore.” Lyford’s passion has helped to initiate the revolutionary food movement in McKinney.
“I’m tired of the `farm-to-table’ trend.,” he said “This is a way of life that won’t end for us.”
Through three outlets, Lyford is dedicated to instilling the importance of organically
grown produce and humanely raised animals to the greater community of McKinney. Lyford’s Patina Green lunch menu (as well as food retail), cooking classes, and his Market Dinner all encompass his message about the importance sustainable food. (In fact, don’t miss the March menu printed at the bottom of this story!)
The Market Dinner has become the hottest ticket in town that is nearly impossible to get. On the second Saturday of every month, Kaci uses her interior designer skills to transform the already warm and inviting Patina Green retail storefront into an elegant and intimate dining space for a locally sourced dining experience. Composed of two seatings with 16 diners each, Chef Robert composes a seasonal blind tasting menu of five courses for $75. Reservations are taken one month in advance and are filled within the day.
Putting their full faith in the chef, diners should attend with a willingness to try anything when it comes to the ingredients. Food allergies are taken into account, but the menu is completely unknown to the diner. There are no wine pairings, but the Market Dinner is BYOB. For all foodies who possess an open mind and a love for food, this is an opportunity to experience the best produce paired with the expertise of Chef Robert Lyford.
“I’m not really sure of the menu until we know what’s available from the farms,” Lyford said. “The ingredients we are able to receive, dictate what the menu will be.”
Lyford’s Market Dinner allows his creativity to flourish outside of Patina Green’s lunch menu. “I love to cook and there’s more to me than sandwiches, salads, and soups,” he said. “We receive beautiful products from the farm, and the Market Dinner gives me a chance to do them the justice they deserve.”
Lyford’s love of cooking stems from his experience as a young boy. “My mother wasn’t the best cook,” he said. “I took the responsibility into my own hands and watched as many cooking shows as I could. This is before cooking went mainstream so I watched all the classics. I was able to start practicing in my kitchen.”
His passion for organically grown produce was generated after a tragic event within the family. After losing his father-in-law to lung cancer, Lyford and his family began to wonder how something like that could have happened. Lyford’s father-in-law didn’t smoke, and he was a marathon runner. The idea that maybe the industrialization of food that the United States has created had something to do with it developed. Genetically modified organisms (crops) and chemically induced livestock brought up the question, “What exactly are we putting into our bodies?”
This untimely death, coupled with time in San Francisco, forever changed Lyford’s
philosophy about food.
As consumers, we’re truly fortunate to live where access to Farmer’s Markets is common in many communities. Whole Foods Markets are popping up throughout the nation, providing consumers with information and products that they have never heard of. The general public has information at their fingertips via the Internet. People have the ability to research the importance of organically grown produce and animals that are raised and slaughtered in a humane environment without antibiotics.
Reservations are now open for the spring dinners in April, May and June.
Reservations for the fall dinners, Sept. – Dec. will be available on Aug. 1.
Local Farms Include but are not limited to:
Windy Meadow’s Family Farm, Pasture Raised Chicken
Truth Hill Farm, Grass Fed Beef & Pastured Raised Pork
Peace & Love Farm, Farm Eggs & Grass Fed Lamb
Local Yocal Farm to Market, All Natural & Pasture Raised Meats
Spring Creek Organics, Local Produce
Pure Land Organics, Local Produce
Elliot Grows, Hydroponic Greens
Amelia’s Farm, Hot House Tomatoes
Mr. Lemley’s Farm, Local Produce
Greer Farm, Seasonal Berries & Produce Cheese
Sample Menu: March 2013 Market Dinner at Patina Green Home and Market
Poached Gulf Shrimp,
TX Grapefruit Brulee
Smoked Redfish & Basil Rillette,
House Made Gaufrettes & Pickles
Radish, Smoked Breast, Jowl Bacon,
Farm Egg, French Dressing
Sausage & Cracklin
Hatch Chili Jam,
Liver Mousse Profiteroles,
TX Blueberry & Olive Oil Powder
Cashew & Water Cress
Sea Scallop & Garlic Chive
Kris’s Lamb Shank & Loin
Celery, Brussel Sprout Mostarda, Sourdough Granola
House Made Ricotta Gnudie,
Tom’s Kale & Volute
Franconia Dunkel Ice Cream,
Red Wattle Carmel,
Pretzel, Preserved Cherry