When you are looking to balance profit and deeper purpose in owning a restaurant and being a chef; gardening and farming can be a strong natural pull. It was for us. We simultaneously had a growing young family with four children and our first restaurant with all its learning curves and financial stress, but somehow the more vegetables we grew and animals we raised, the more it all made sense. Regardless of the level of difficulty of the endeavor, we could never go back. We were determined to work through the steep learning curves of being first generation farmers (and restaurateurs) and take the calculated risks to create an integrated, full-scale farming operation that met the supply needs of our restaurants with high food integrity and quality. Twelve years later we are the largest full-scale farm and restaurant operation in the country with two award winning restaurants; Black Cat Bistro(fine dining) and Bramble & Hare( casual farmhouse pub), a 500 acre certified organic and biodynamic farm, 300 sheep , 120 pigs, 250+ vegetable and grain varieties, two farmers market booths and a CSA.
We are passionate about what we do and how we do it. We are hands-on owners/operators with a strong dose of yeoman. Some of our guiding principles are: Unconditional customer service; attention to quality and details of the farm, food, wine and spirits; strive for the financial “sweet spot”; knowledgeable, empowered staff; the joys of failure; slow food; heritage breeds and seeds; grow it organically; raise it naturally and happy on pasture; honor it on the plate; family owned; and don’t forget to keep it light.
Eric, who hails from Virginia, got the cooking bug while working in Charlottesville kitchens as an undergraduate at the University of Virginia. After graduating, Eric worked in restaurants in Washington, DC, San Francisco and mountain resorts in Colorado before moving to Boulder to open Black Cat Bistro. He is author of “Farm Fork Food: A Year of Spectacular Recipes Inspired by Black Cat Farm”, finalist for best American cookbook of the year by the prestigious International Association of Culinary Professionals annual book awards. In 2017, Eric was a semi-finalist for James Beard Best Chef Award. Eric works closely with many universities and culinary schools teaching students about farm-to-table techniques, sustainability and soil health.
Originally from Baltimore, Jill has a Computer Science degree from Eckerd College. She worked as an actuarial assistant and full charge bookkeeper prior to her ten years as General Manager of Gold Lake Mountain Resort and Spa in Colorado. Jill brings her management expertise to bear on the daily operations and finances of the couple’s businesses. On the farming side, Jill manages the health and well-being of the livestock as well as fine-tuning the genetics of the breeding operations. Jill is Board Vice President of the acclaimed Boulder County Farmers’ Market where she steers the finances of the market. With her undying love of riding horses, she is hoping the farm will retire its tractors in exchange for draft horses on their farm on the edge of the prairie.
Eric and Jill live, farm and cook in Boulder, Colorado with their children, an amazing staff and a whole lot of animals.