Chefs who have come to expect a bounty of local produce to spice up summer dishes say this year's drought in Ontario has driven down the quantity and quality of some crops.

Benny's Bistro in Ottawa relies heavily on local farms in the summer, and executive chef Scott Adams said this year has been a disappointment. 


Benny's Bistro executive chef Scott Adams said some of this year's produce has lacked quality and is more sour than usual. (Karen Kelly/CBC)

"As a chef who sort of struggles with a lack of local produce you know we really look forward to this time of year and it's been difficult definitely," said Adams.

"Things have changed a lot this summer. I've noticed there's fewer vegetables, fewer good quality vegetables and the prices seem to be inflated this year," said Adams.

Adams said corn, tomatoes, strawberries and eggplant are among the crops that are not as bountiful as in years past, and what crops he has received aren't as tasty as he's come to expect.

Over at the Social Restaurant and Lounge on Sussex Drive in Ottawa, Chef Jordan Holley is making changes, scrapping a plan to use local ground cherries in Monday's menu.

Dry year hurts wild mushroom hunting

Holley said his favourite local ingredient — wild mushrooms — was also a disappointment this year.

"With having such a dry spring, they just weren't around," said Holley. 


Social's chef Jordan Holley said this year's wild mushroom crop was so bad his local distributors had to order some of them from the Yukon. (Karen Kelly/CBC)

"They just weren't coming up this year. My hunter...couldn't get me any morels or chanterelles this year. He had to order them from someone else from the Yukon to be able to supply people in Ottawa."

Chefs say prices on produce have gone up, by anywhere from 10 to 20 per cent. And they said the impact of the drought is likely to worsen as farmers take stock of crops due in August.