Jamie Harson, Owner and Chef of Scratch Farm Kitchen

Jamie Harson, owner and chef of Scratch Farm Kitchen, joins Discover Lafayette to share her commitment to serving the highest quality, fresh, locally sourced ingredients, in delicious combinations which fit the needs of any patron’s dietary preferences or restrictions.

Located at 2918 Johnston Street in the Winnwood Shopping Center, Scratch Farm Kitchen has a growing legion of followers who flock in to see the daily menu, set forth on a board next to the cash register, showcasing the meals of the day. Crowd favorites such as hash-based bowls, grit-based bowls, hamburgers, and a special dish known as Boudini, a biscuit topped with boudin, cheese, egg, pesto, kimchi and Jamie’s homemade mayonnaise, are always in high demand.

Jamie and her dedicated staff prepare from scratch all of the condiments accompanying meals, including their own ketchup, mustard, mayonaise, cheese, jams, and broths. They cure their own meats, and ferment products such as sauerkraut, kimchi, and sodas. The meals are colorful, delightful in their simplicity, and a testament to the virtues of eating fresh, local, wholesome foods prepared by loving hands. There is no online menu. Fresh ingredients steer the meals of the day….which is how things always used to be.

“The best way to describe my food is to say it’s street food inspired. It started on grills outside. It’s American food, farm to table. I like to say my food is transparent and honest. We can answer questions about what is in our food. It is clean and simple food. Like Julia Child said, ‘Food doesn’t have to be great masterpieces, it just has to be simple and have good ingredients,'” says Jamie Harson, who relies upon local vendors to source items she does not make herself.

Jamie is responsible for all the menu choices, creates the dishes offered, and prepares the soups herself. She speaks highly of her talented staff, who support her vision, saying, “They’re the best. I have a dedicated and devoted team that I can trust. I walk in everyday and that’s where I want to be. And, our clientele inspire me.”

“Scratch Farm Kitchen operates only on grills, no fryers and no ovens. Everything is fresh, assembled on the line in the front of the restaurant, with all the prep activity being conducted in the back kitchen. The menu changes seasonally, in keeping what can be sourced locally. And the menu has been a learning process, from experience through the years. “If things don’t sell, they’re off the menu”, says Jamie.

Jamie’s journey in the food business began as a young child, helping out at her grandfather’s farm in Duson. Picking blackberries and figs, as well as pecans on her hands and knees, or shucking corn, typically for eight hours a day. These weren’t really her favorite activities. But that’s what led her to appreciate the seasonal aspect of local food.

After Jamie’s grandfather died when she was eight, she lost contact with the idea of farming until she had dream at 18 years of age. Jamie says, “I was in Portland, Oregon, and had all these pictures of a farm in my head, and called my dad (former District Attorney Mike Harson) about it and he said, ‘You’re dreaming of the family farm.'” Jamie knew she’d be back there one day.

Jamie didn’t return to our area until she was 30, when she called her dad and said she was ready to go out to the family farm in Duson again. At the farm, which she called “Bon Temps Family Farms,” she began raising her family (she now has four children), along with hundreds of pigs, chickens, ducks, goats, and other livestock. Jamie had no experience in farming or ranching, and says she “learned everything on Google!”

Her passion from the beginning was starting from ‘scratch.’ Jamie says, “If I was going to raise chickens, I started when they were little.”

Jamie jokingly recalled one day when she drove home to the farm on Ridgefield in Duson and saw many state troopers outside of her property; all of her 300 plus pigs had gotten loose and were delighting in their freedom, jumping for joy! She had just started Scratch, and was still breeding, raising, and roasting the pigs herself. “The pigs got out everyday.” When the State Police asked what to do to gather the pigs up, Jamie knew she could herd them back into their stalls with food…..imagine hundreds of pigs running, jumping, and celebrating going back home! As a side note, raising, breeding, and roasting the pigs took a toll on Jamie, and she realized one day that it was too much to continue raising pigs alongside building her restaurant business. Once she let go of that part of her business, Scratch Farm Kitchen really took off.

Jamie had always “envisioned having a small drive-thru breakfast by her farm in Duson where she could offer egg biscuits and coffee. That was the genesis of how the dream of Scratch started.”

A former partner of Jamie’s, Kelsey Leger, helped that dream come to fruition, as she wanted to help. She had experience in the restaurant business, and wanted more hands on experience in the farm to table movement. And Jamie wanted to put the farm to table food on people’s plates.

Scratch started out doing private dinners for 40 people, which were successful. “We would take large seasonal abundance like the old days. What do you do with three sacks of corn when it comes in? You can pickle it, make corn maque choux, corn soup, freeze it, etc. That’s essentially how Scratch was built. What do you do with 30 pounds of cucumbers? You basically build a pantry as if you were living off the land. Trade with your neighbors. I love that interaction between community, growers and family!”

Next came humble beginnings as a pop up vendor at Moncus Park’s Farmers Market, to operating from a food truck (which was bought from Collin Cormier of Viva La Waffle). Jamie credits Pat Mould, the renowned local chef, who had been a steady customer of her food truck, to help her get the Scratch truck permission to locate on UL-Lafayette’s campus. She was ready to move on to have access to increased foot traffic and bring her business to the next level. For about a year, Scratch Farm Kitchen meals served hungry college kids where curry bowls and burritos were popular. And the bonus was the kids posted about Scratch Farm Kitchen on social media, sharing photos. People would show up with the photos, saying “What’s this? I want it!”

Running a small restaurant business isn’t conducive to obtaining loans from bankers, and Jamie had to pay cash for needed expenditures as the business grew. One year at Festival International, Scratch “blew up,” experiencing long lines and happy customers. In 2019, Scratch moved into its initial brick and mortar restaurant at 402 Garfield Street in downtown Lafayette, staying successful strictly through word of mouth advertising and loyal clientele.

While COVID presented challenges, Jamie was determined not to shut down, not to return to a food truck. They would post menus on Instagram and every night, people would text their orders in for the next day. The menu was kept simple, such as only burgers on Thursdays. Jamie remembers serving 200 – 300 burgers in three hours. The team of Jamie, her partner, and her 14-year old daughter kept the business afloat and Scratch actually did better business than they might have without the COVID shutdown. And the good part was there were no supply chain issues as they made all their condiments from scratch.

By mid-June, Jamie plans to open Scratch Farm Kitchen at night, another important milestone in her business. Business is flourishing and she has the right staff in place to step up her offerings. “I love where I’m at. Especially moving into our new location. It’s like moving into a castle. It was the next right move.”

One dream that Jamie still has is to blend her farm with the restaurant, to enable her employees to work at both, to work outside, and to know more about where the food is coming from. Jamie says, “The farm to table is happening already around the country. Lafayette is hungry for this. I follow my intuition and that’s what helps me grow my business.

We thank Jamie Harson for her incredible mission to serve our community only the best, freshest, locally sourced foods.

Check out @scratch_that_midcity for more information on Scratch Farm Kitchen, 2918 Johnston St., Lafayette or call 337-295-4769.