food for thought

Rooted Women: Chef Lisa Balcom of Farow Restaurant

This month, we’d like to introduce you to Lisa Balcom, who, with her husband the Executive Chef Patrick Balcom, own hyperlocal Farow restaurant in Niwot, CO. From server, to bartender, to acclaimed pastry chef – at various restaurants across the country, including Charleston Grill, Safta and Blackbelly – Lisa has always been passionate about cooking, baking, and supporting local farmers and producers. 

Q: It’s winter, and here in Colorado it’s difficult to find anything local in the grocery stores, much less in area restaurants.  How do you manage to serve food that is 90% local, even in the dead of winter?

A: We plan ahead with a lot of our farmers, and they cellar root veggies and squash for us.  Our menu also tends to be a little more meat-, grain- and pasta-heavy in the winter, and more veggie-forward as our options expand. We do have some farmers that have greenhouses or that grow lettuces year round, so we’re always able to have micro greens and salads on our menus.  It’s a lot of fun cooking with the seasons, and I find myself eating that way at home a lot more now, too, since it has become such a huge passion for us.

Q: What is your favorite wintertime go-to meal using a local farmer or producer during a busy day?

A: Rutabaga has just come in season and it’s probably one of my favorite root veggies!  Right now we’re spiralizing it into noodles, and then cooking it into Cacio y Pepe in place of our spaghetti.  It’s a pretty great way to get your veggies in, and indulge at the same time.

Q: And what’s one of your favorite splurges/guilty pleasures?

A: Pizza is probably one of my most loved foods.  It’s tough to resist a great dough with cheese and sauce. It’s why we opened Pie Dog Pizza a couple of months ago!

Q: What are your plans for Farow in 2023? 

A:  This year, our focus is on marketing Farow and Pie Dog.  What we’re doing is really special and I want to share it with more people.  We’re also working on building a stronger (online) training program for our team, and are working towards providing more opportunities for them to develop themselves with their skill sets both at work, and in general.  We also plan to build up Pie Dog, our new pizza ghost kitchen concept, and are starting to look at turning it into a franchise, to increase visibility and bring pizza made with great ingredients to a larger market.

Q:  How do you get motivated to go out there and kick butt every day, even when things feel overwhelming?

A: Self-care is a huge part of this.  Getting good sleep, meditation, and regularly doing massage and acupuncture really help me bring enough energy to crush it.  My husband and I have also taken up working out again several times each week, just to feel a little less stressed and get some good endorphins flowing.  I also do some mindset work – I have a playlist of motivational speakers I like to listen to on the way to work.  It helps me get out of my head, and energizes me to get moving! Learning to say no sometimes, or to separate what’s necessary for ME to do, and which things I can delegate to others, really has helped.  Still working on that part, but I’m getting better at it.  The hardest thing about being an entrepreneur is resisting the urge to do everything yourself, and instead, spreading out the workload.

Q: We know all too well that women are still trying to do it all – succeed at work, look after their families, run a household, be a good friend and member of the community. What do you like to do to unwind after a hectic day/week?

A: Honestly, sometimes I just need a day on the couch – no laptop, no phone.  Just vegging watching movies, and if I’m feeling motivated or energetic, I love to get in my kitchen and cook.  It’s a form of therapy for me, and such a completely different vibe from cooking in a commercial kitchen.  It’s nice to go at your own pace and just do what you want to without an agenda.  Having time to disconnect from socializing and people really helps me reset for the week.

Q: What are 2-3 local farmers and producers you’d like others to know about, and why?

A: Buckner Family Ranch! They have some of THE BEST tasting meats – including their sausages – that I have ever had. I don’t buy meat elsewhere.  They’re fully committed to doing the right thing for their animals, and it shows.

Modern Farmsteads- Christina and Jochim are two of the most ambitious and passionate farmers I know, and I’m so excited to see where the future takes them.  They recently got a really beautiful property in north Longmont to farm on, and I can’t wait to host events there and see what they turn that land into. We had the pleasure of hosting their farmstand in front of the restaurant last summer, and it was so much fun to see what goodies they had every week.

See all of our Rooted Women by clicking on the “Spotlight” search button on this page.


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