Bette Fraser is a big believer in FLOSS. “That’s fresh, local, organic, seasonal and sustainable food,” she says. And it’s a philosophy that has served her well as the chef and owner of The Well Traveled Fork in Bend. The four-year-old company offers culinary tours, cooking classes, catering and personal chef services to visitors and residents of Central Oregon.
With 25 years in the catering business in southern California, Fraser first became interested in the local food movement while teaching an after school cooking class. “I realized that these kids didn’t know where their food came from. They thought all lettuce came in a bag, all chicken had nuggets and pasta came in box.” Even more dismaying, many of their parents weren’t much better informed, she says.
Fraser landed in Bend following what she calls a fateful ski trip to Mt. Bachelor with her husband. She got to know the area by following her culinary curiosity and scouting local farms and ranches. “Despite the fact that the high desert is a harsh climate, people were growing all this wonderful food. I decided to offer culinary tours. I wanted to teach people where their food comes from.”
Fraser currently offers several tours — farm and ranch tours, culinary secrets tours, walking tours and fermentation tours. Each offers people the chance to meet local farmers, ranchers, brewers, chefs, bakers and wine makers.
As the newest addition, the fermentation tour goes way beyond the beer that Central Oregon is famous for. Fraser includes fermented foods like sourdough bread, kombucha, pickles, sauerkraut, kimchi and salami. “We talk about why fermentation is good for you,” she says. “People are hesitant about fermented foods. But is it something their grandmothers did. It was the way we preserved food for centuries.”
Fraser also helps people incorporate what they learn into their own cooking with classes, which she developed when she realized people enjoyed the tours but didn’t know what to do with farm fresh food. Classes of all kinds are held twice a month, and Fraser will also schedule private groups (including kids and team building).
As much as it gives her joy to connect people with local foods and food producers, Fraser said she gets a lot out of each tour. “Our goal is to be teachers. And yet we learn something every time we go out.”
Editors Note: Looking for more fun ways to tour Bend? Try the Cycle Pub for the Bend beer tour. Get It Shuttle offers tours featuring art, beer, wine, family fun and scenic beauty. Wanderlust Tours has a variety of outdoor and beer-themed tours. To take a self-guided tour of the Bend Ale Trail, stop by the Bend Visitors Center for a map.