For Kaity Farrell, her partner Jacob, and their son Iley, the island of Nantucket isn’t a summer retreat, it’s their year-round home. Farrell, a private chef, businesswoman, and social media entrepreneur is the force behind @fareisle, an Instagram account that documents her family’s slow-living lifestyle—and features her plant-based, frequently flower-accented, culinary creations. Here, she talks to Vogue.com about island life, her food philosophy, and her future projects.
How did you end up on Nantucket?
Love led me to Nantucket 12 years ago. I had just graduated from university with a degree in natural resources and was unsure of the career path I wanted to take. Jacob, my partner of 15 years now, had been to Nantucket, and knew I would fall in love with this beautiful island just as he had. We came here to work, seasonally at first and then after a couple of years moved here permanently. Now I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else, well… maybe a warmer place to visit in the winter months would not be too bad. No, but seriously, we love this island. Nantucket had me at hello.
What’s your food philosophy?
I’m a firm believer in eating to thrive, and I think that means something different to each of us. I am conscious of how different foods make me feel and listen to my body’s needs. I dislike labels and the restrictions that come with them. I feel my best eating a mostly whole plant-based diet with lots of probiotic-rich fermented foods, and include wild-caught fish on occasion and even the odd egg here and there. I also subscribe to the notion that less is more, which ties into eating seasonally and sourcing locally whenever possible.
Simple meals are often my favorites. If you start with good unadulterated ingredients, you usually can’t go wrong with whatever you are making. My family keeps a garden and we grow our own veggies and fruits in the summer. Having that connection to where our food comes from is so important to my partner, Jacob, and I, and we feel it is vital to pass that wisdom on to our son, Iley.
How did you become interested in plant-based eating?
Jacob first enlightened me to eating a plant-based diet. He overcame serious health issues by changing his diet through the guidance of a naturopath. It took me a few years to transition my then-omnivore diet to a predominantly herbivore one. Since then I’ve been intrigued with creating plant-based versions of foods I’ve always loved and also dreaming up new recipes honoring veggies, fruits, legumes, nuts, and seeds simply for what they are. For instance, homemade tofu is amazing. It has a flavor all its own, and I don’t feel like I’m trying to replace meat with it, instead enjoying it for what it deliciously is.
You use a lot of flowers in your cooking, which is beautiful and inspiring.
It’s no secret that I have a love for flowers, especially those of the wild variety. I have loved them ever since I can remember. Some of my earliest memories are of picking wild violets that grew at the base of the giant hemlock in my backyard and placing them in teeny vases throughout my childhood home. I’d gleaned the kitchen wisdom of my gifted mother watching and helping as she preserved the violets in sugar to decorate my and my sister’s April birthday cakes. As I grew into womanhood and then motherhood I became interested in growing, foraging, and wild-crafting edible and medicinal plants, to make herbal remedies and self-care products for my family to use.
My library is full of plant identification and foraging guides. It didn’t take long for me to realize how beautiful a cake or salad or main dish, for that matter, becomes when finished off with edible flowers.
Any tips for readers who want to try cooking with edible flowers?
Perhaps the simplest way to use flowers in cooking is to add them as a garnish, but you can get really creative and infuse them into finishing salts, teas, baked goods, and sauces. I share some recipes incorporating edible flowers on my blog and YouTube channel. When I’m not cooking with flowers I’m using them to create art and botanical self-care products, which can be found on fareisle.com.
An easy way to start is to sow some edible flower seeds in your garden or in pots. Some easy to grow varieties are nasturtiums, cornflowers and calendula. Another easy way to get edible flowers from your garden is to let your kitchen herbs like basil, thyme, cilantro, rosemary, sage, etc. flower. Flowering herbs are some of my favorite to use in the kitchen because they have distinct flavors and work well with savory dishes. When picking any plant in the wild make sure to reference and cross-reference its identity to be sure it is safe to ingest. It’s always a great idea to ask a seasoned local forager or plant expert to confirm its identity.
My most recent project has been planning the first of hopefully many retreats to be hosted on Nantucket, with a central theme of slow living. My goal with these retreats is to provide renewed inspiration and creative clarity to participants in a relaxed seaside setting. Retreat activities will range from explorations into culinary skills and craft to visual story telling. More details and dates will be released soon.
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