Chefs and restaurateurs talk about eating local
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Many chefs and restaurant owners are committed to buying local in-season products. Here's what some of them say.
"I generally speak with people at farm markets," says Brian J. Annapolen, executive chef at The Original Fish Market, Downtown. "'Hey Bud, where'd you get this chard? And the asparagus? How about the ramps?' Then we buy regularly if the products are good, the prices are fair and the farmer is easy to deal with. I recently discovered a farm in West Virginia raising Arctic char. I'll admit that I was mildly puzzled at the location, but I gave it a try. The fish is beautiful -- the flavor is clean, the fish in great shape and it was swimming the day before it arrived. It's sustainable and local as well. What else can you ask for?"
And this from executive chef Christopher Jackson of Downtown's Six Penn Kitchen, which is using everything from Allegheny East Farm (Elizabeth Township) lettuces to Highbourne Deer Farm (York County) red tail deer:
"When you are an artist of any kind, why not strive for the best tools, equipment and products to express yourself and your art? When it comes to cooking for yourself, family and friends, why not give them the freshest, most nutritious local products you can find?
"As far as my art, cooking, I only want to use the best ingredients, know who is raising and growing the products, how and by what means. Supporting local business and agriculture means my guests will receive a well-crafted and -prepared meal consisting of local, fresh, well-cared-for, antibiotic- and hormone-free products. There is nothing better than having a relationship with your farmers, visiting their farms and supporting their efforts. I am glad to be a part of their growth and future."
From Brooks Broadhurst, senior vice president of food and beverage, Eat'n Park Hospitality Group, which has a "Farm Source" program to bring produce grown within 125 miles to its 79 Eat'n Park restaurants and more than 120 universities, corporate cafeterias and retirement communities under the Parkhurst Dining and Cura Hospitality umbrella:
"We started FarmSource about five years ago for a variety of reasons. In the end, the quality of the product is simply better. There are a lot of benefits to the program, from helping farmers grow their business and support our local economies to having a softer footprint on our environment by having products hauled much shorter distances. But the overriding factor is quality. Local products are grown to taste great, not to travel 2,500 miles like many other products are designed to do."
From Bill Fuller, corporate chef for big Burrito Restaurant Group which includes Eleven, Kaya, Casbah, Umi, Soba and Mad Mex:
"The big Burrito menus think globally, but we take pride that our customers have always eaten locally. Soon after our founding in 1993, we mapped the way to local and sustainably produced food. By 1995, we were the first major presence on the local sourcing scene. We pioneered recruitment and support of the fragile southwestern Pennsylvania network of artisan-scale farmers, foragers and producers. We did it and do it because freshly harvested food is more healthful and tastes better. Purchasing local food products also helps the local economy, helps to keep farmers on the land, preserves green space near our cities and reduces pollutants from cross-country food transportation."
Chefs of other restaurants also are dedicated to serving local and in-season products. Some of them include:
Bona Terra Restaurant, Sharpsburg
The Green Chef's Deli, Sewickley
Cafe at the Frick, Point Breeze
Cafe Phipps, Oakland
Lidia's Pittsburgh, Strip District
The Carlton, Downtown
Le Pommier, South Side
Iovino's Cafe, Mt. Lebanon
Sonoma Grille, Downtown
First Published August 1, 2007 6:32 pm