Fathers and family members across the city will have a chance to enjoy a beer and a traditional "ploughman’s lunch" on Father’s Day in an event promoting English traditions of the past.
On June 19, Joanne Jesseau, who owns Dragonfly Delights Tearoom, will be able to put weeks of research to the test as she gets ready to host a ploughman’s lunch at Black Wheat Brewing Company, the first of its kind at the city’s first craft brewery.
Inspired by a conversation with a fellow business owner, Jesseau did some research online reading from a book called "Pierce the Ploughman’s Crede," information circa 1394, detailing a traditional English ploughman’s meal of bread, cheese and beer.
She told The Sun it would be a fun idea to bring a unique event for the holiday to the community, taking an approach to English culture that saw a resurgence following a rationing period in the leadup to and after the Second World War.
"When you think of a ploughman, you think of a farmer working out in the field," Jesseau said.
"What would he take with him? It would be some meat, bread and some cheese and something to drink."
By the 1970s, she learned that the dairy board in England started partnering with brewing companies trying to promote the sale of cheese and taprooms, a move that had largely stopped during the war. Something that would be simple to prepare, Jesseau said creating the lunch would offer her business an alternative from sit down afternoon teas.
"A traditional afternoon tea setting is very pretty and very much lady-oriented, and the men don’t always come willingly until they see the food, they are happy," Jesseau said as she laughed.
"My husband absolutely loves going to the taproom on the weekend with his friends after a long week of work, and we enjoy gathering there. I thought if we could give them an environment that they are more comfortable in, it would be a lot of fun."
Ahead of the Father’s Day event, Jesseau reached out to a number of Manitoba companies that could help bring her lunch to the table. She said Loaf and Honey, a small catering and cheese company based out of St. Norbert, will be working with Black Wheat Brewing Company to infuse one of their beers, and put that beer infused flavour into the cheese served at the ploughman’s lunch.
She said her tearoom will be making their own beer pretzel buns to serve as the piece of bread to go along with the beer and cheese and has reached out to a few local meat suppliers to compliment the meal.
In a partnership with Jen Lynne, a Brandon crafter, Jesseau was able to arrange for 16 homemade charcuterie boards to be available at the lunch for people who make a reservation for the lunch at the $50 level.
The board features the logos of both Dragonfly Delights Tearoom and Black Wheat Brewing Company burned into the wood, and the food and craft beer will be served to customers at that price with the take-home kitchen product.
She is also offering options for the date at $40, $30 and $20, including a kid-friendly choice to promote more families to attend the Brandon taproom.
Graham Matheson, the marketing representative for Black Wheat Brewing Company, said the event is a much-needed collaboration coming out of the pandemic while promoting new life for the downtown community.
"These opportunities I think are essential," Matheson said.
"There is an element that is good business, but [also] an element of being a good neighbour. In a lot of ways, we have become friends as a result."
An event like this reminds Jesseau of the reason she had the dream of starting a tearoom for 30 years, while raising four children.
"In 2018, I headed down to Nashville hoping to learn how to run my sewing business better, and I came home and looked at my husband and said, ‘I am going to try the tearoom,’ and he just gave his head a shake," she said.
By 2019, Jesseau had registered the business and with some knowledge of the hospitality industry, began renting the commercial kitchen and dining hall inside the First Presbyterian Church on 339 12th St.
Following a good response from her first event in March 2019 and several more, she hoped to find a permanent location for her business, but the pandemic delayed that goal a little longer. At times, she questioned whether or not the tearoom was viable in a city like Brandon.
Now in 2022, Jesseau is still looking for that location, but doesn’t want to settle for something that doesn’t catch her eye.
In the last week, her tea room held its first ever dine-in event since the start of the pandemic, promoting World Bee Day, welcoming Bee City Brandon, local apiaries and bee-themed crafters to setup shop inside the Presbyterian Church for an enjoyable afternoon market.
Jesseau sources her product from Pluck Tea, a company based out of Toronto, specializing in premium organic teas. She noted the company will take ingredients made in Canada — for example from mint, maple syrup and grapes — and infuse that into their tea line.
She said additional inspiration to start her business came from a trip to Newfoundland, which gave her the impression the warm beverage could bring generations of a family together.
"For me, it was unheard of for aunty to go with a niece out for lunch in my childhood," she said.
"If I could create a space for those multigenerations to get together, that excites me. I’ve had Mother’s Day events where I’ve had four generations together at the table, and that’s success for me right there."
Going forward, she is excited to offer a tea etiquette class on June 12 and June 23, an afternoon tea celebrating Canada Day on July 1 and 2, and an afternoon tea baby shower fundraiser in support of the Pregnancy Support Centre of Westman.
Jesseau said the fundraiser in July is encouraging people from the community to bring something to donate to the centre, enjoy tea and proceeds will go toward that cause.
» Twitter: @JosephBernacki