Yes, Chef with Kristen Barnett: Friends, Family and Food

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Special to MARGARITA CRUZ Daily Sun

“It was stressful, but I didn’t feel like I was doing anything else,” says Flag Terroir’s Kristen Barnett. “I like to run around on my feet. ‘I like cooking for people, but I don’t like cooking for myself.'”

Kristen Barnett is Executive Chef at Flag Terroir, located above the Artists Gallery on San Francisco Boulevard. Flag Terroir is known for around 500 wines. Their kitchen features half-shell oysters, homemade ice cream, creative small plates, and more. Made to match with a wide selection of wines. Since the kitchen is all electric, Barnett has to adopt many recipes and techniques. She was able to create entire menus and specialty dishes without using the equipment found in your average bar kitchen.

Burnett attended NAU and immersed herself in the culinary and hospitality program. While she appreciates the many business aspects of her that she learned during her program, she is most grateful for her time spent in her kitchen at the Inn at NAU. She was able to develop her love of baking and learn about food the way she wanted. Her love of research and learning turned into her lifelong passion for doing this in her own creative process.

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“[The Inn] Helped me to be creative. And I knew that whatever I wanted to learn, it had to come from me. I’m learning every day,” Burnett says. “Working at The Inn definitely solidified my desire to work in food and to be in the kitchen. Ever since I started working in the industry, I have taken on more and more challenges.”

After Inn, Burnett found himself in various positions as a baker and cook. During her time at Criollo, she began rolling out specials that explored the diverse Latin American cuisine and local foods from farmers markets. Further deepening her love of pairing with wine.

Using color-coded notebooks filled with notes on flavors and pairings, Burnett’s tastes and processes were shaped by the communal aspects that work in the flag terroir. Not only does she bring her expertise and research, but she works with her team at Terroir to transform cooking into a special experience.

Prior to the pandemic shutdown, Burnett and her team would attend three- to four-course dinners to narrow down the wines that would go well with the meal. After the shutdown, they slowly returned to sharing their taste buds of wine and food.

“I love making food and being able to combine flavors that people don’t think they go together. It’s completely different,” Burnett says. “It’s really interesting to see how wine and food interact and can be really bad or really great. You can cook and it can be amazing.” Yes, but if the wrong wine is paired with it, they are both bad.

As a child, Barnett spent a lot of time in the kitchen, watching and helping his parents and grandparents cook and bake. She remembers pictures of her sitting in a high chair, frosting cookies and rolling crescent moons. When she moved to Kansas at the age of 11, her grandmother taught her to experiment with food without question and to process what she ate. Barnett continues this tradition with his team and invites you to take a bite before explaining what it is.

For over seven years, Barnett has been creatively pursuing his passion for pairing his food and wine. Before her meal on her terroir, she has a cooking practice with her friends and family. It hasn’t always been easy, but her friends have kept her going.

Barnett says: In the food service industry, there are always people on the makes it easier [to work with people you like]For over ten years I have worked with Hilary Wumble, who makes homemade ice cream and semifreddos. Just having friends to work with makes it a lot easier. “

Barnett and her team are always on the move and changing with the seasons. Farmers of Criollo From her experiences in Barnett working with local produce in her markets, she brings her love of the local area to the terroir. Some of her favorites include pierogies in beet dough stuffed with root vegetables, wilted vegetables, winter pumpkin puree and pickled pears, which she collaborates with Flagstaff Foodlink and Eat Local Tuesdays. It includes what you created.

“I always really looked forward to that event,” Burnett says. “Working with extremely local farms and creating specials that highlight local and seasonal produce has been a lot of fun, and I have had a lot of fun with a variety of native winter squash and fresh blue corn that I have seen before. I was able to work with fresh ingredients that didn’t exist.”

She now creates two-course pairings each week and puts together menus for grand tastings that are served to over 100 people each year. What started as a small ball of dough turned into a lifelong friendship and learning.

Most of the time, you can find Burnet in the flag terroir. Flag Terroir’s kitchen is open Tuesday-Thursday 4-10 PM and Friday-Saturday 4-11 PM.

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