Composting, recycling, and local purchasing are not practices you’d expect to see in a northern BC pub, but that’s exactly what’s happening at UNBC’s Thirsty Moose under the direction of Food & Beverage Manager, Kyle McIntosh.
Born and raised in Prince George, Kyle began his food service career at age 19, washing dishes, and has since worked in several prestigious Vancouver and Calgary restaurants, including one of Canada’s top-10 bistros.
With his experience, Kyle had many career options, but when the opportunity to move back to Prince George to be closer to family came along, he took it. The NUSC food services operations opened their doors in June 2008, and Kyle has been the Food & Beverage Manager since.
In his previous employment, Kyle had been responsible for visiting and working directly with various local farmers and food markets. It was this personal connection – meeting with food purveyors and learning their stories – that sparked his appreciation for good food.
Kyle says the local food movement started out as a trendy thing, as if “we’re chefs, look at what we can do,” but it got people thinking, and now it’s more like “we are chefs, and this what we should do.”
Now, the local food and sustainability movement is coming to UNBC.
The Northern Undergraduate Student Centre, NUSC, is the business arm of the UNBC student union, run “by the students, for the students.” It houses two food service operations: the Thirsty Moose Pub and Degrees Coffee Co. Prices are kept low to accommodate student budgets, and revenue generated from these operations goes back to support student activities.
The Thirsty Moose Pub caters to an entirely different crowd than the high-end urban bistros of Kyle’s past. University staff and faculty patron the pub during the lunch hour and students tend to dominate the evening hours with low-cost food and beverage options. Speed of service and value are essential to the business.
Despite the fast and cheap demands of Thirsty Moose customers, efforts to incorporate local and sustainable food choices in the pub menu have been very well-received.
During the inaugural University Farmers Market held this past February, sandwiches and salads made with local greens were served as take-out items from the Grab-and-Go outlet. Bison burgers with fries made from potatoes from Gerry Visser’s farm were served in the pub. The one-time event was a huge success, selling out of food before the day was over. Now, Kyle is planning to move to a full BC-based product menu at the start of the newschool year in the Fall.
Meanwhile, the Thirsty Moose continues to compost all food waste at the PGPIRG compost gardens, serve take-out food with biodegradable containers and cutlery, and use a full line of natural cleaning and sanitizing products. Kyle says improving the environmental footprint of the pub while keeping costs low is a challenge, but it is also a necessity for the future.
Kyle adds that the old-school “meat and potatoes” attitude of the north could be seen as hindrance to the progressive local foods movement, but in reality, it is a compliment.
Meat and potatoes are some of the foods the northern region grows best, and a return to our roots and connection with the land is really what the local foods movement is all about.
The Thirsty Moose
3333 University Way
Prince George, BC