Chefs and Farms
It’s no surprise that truly talented chefs will seek out the best ingredients. They value the subtle flavor profiles. They value the story of the food. This is why more and more chefs are sourcing their food out the back door, or perhaps up on the rooftop.
I have been watching the show Avec Eric (which you can watch on Amazon Prime or Hulu), with renowned Chef Eric Ripert. First of all, let me just say that he is precious and I totally have a crush on him. But what I appreciate more than anything is the questions that he asks. He is always going back to the source of the food to further respect it in its natural form and then translates that into a dish.
The last episode I watched was when he went to visit Dan Barber of Blue Hill Farm in New York and Blue Hill Stone Barns Restaurant. What I would give to live on that farm! Not only aesthetically gorgeous, the vision and mission of the farm is so inspiring. It is local eating at it’s finest. Dan Barber took Eric on a tour of the farm and explained to him the importance of the husbandry of the land. Each component of caring for the land was vital for the next component.
For example, the animal rotation. First the sheep graze on a piece of land and then are moved to another area. Sheep want the best grass possible since they are herbivores. So they have to be rotated once a day. They take one bite of grass and move on, and if they aren’t moved they have a taste memory and come back to the same bite of grass and take the grass down to the root, which is less nutritious and flavorful later when the sheep meet your plate. And it also degrades the grass, instead of enhancing it. Then the chickens come afterwards to eat what the sheep left and to break up the manure. And this rotation keeps going every couple of days, allowing the animals to stay vibrant and healthy. Talk about an antithesis of commercial farming!
This is why I seek out chefs and restaurants who understand the importance of the land. It’s starts there. No dish could be created, no forkful could make it to your mouth without the land. Whether it’s raised or grown, those who take care of their ingredients from the beginning will have more appreciation for their food and that ultimately translates to the plate. I encourage you all to seek out restaurants who source locally; and even better, those who grow their own food. Oh, and watch Avec Eric!