Chefs & Food Service
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Chefs and Food Service Providers

 From high end restaurants to hospital and school cafeterias, chefs and food service providers are jumping on the trend of using locally grown ingredients in their cooking. 

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 Frequently Asked Questions

Why should I include local items on my menu?

Success Serving Local: Savoy Bar and Grill

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Head Chef of Savoy Bar and Grill, Bob Peterson, sources many locally grown ingredients and he is always looking for more. Like many chefs, he values the flavors and textures that local ingredients bring to his menu, and his customers love the fresh taste.

Savoy currently serves Talus Wind Ranch lamb and Old Windmill Dairy goat cheese year round, and last year they had fresh local produce on their menu from March to December. They are able to source more produce during the harvest season, but work with local growers to include cool season crops during the spring and late fall.

And Savoy is not alone - they work with partner restaurants Zinc Wine Bar and Bistro and Seasons Rotisserie and Grill to source and serve some of the freshest local ingredients around.

If you are a chef or food service provider and you would like to learn more about their model for sourcing local, email Bob Peterson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Local growers interested in selling to restaurants are also encouraged to email.

There are a variety of reasons to include locally grown items on your menu.

  • Locally grown foods are the freshest, allowing you to cook with a higher quality product that has superior color, taste and texture compared to foods that were picked too early and shipped from far away. This translates into a better tasting and looking meal for your customers, and increased customer satisfaction.  
  • Going local allows you to expand your business by entering into a new niche market, bringing in new customers.  According to a survey of chefs by the National Restaurant Association, locally grown produce is the number one hot trend in restaurants for 2009.  Also, with the rise in the local food movement customers are seeking out more than ever restaurants that serve locally grown goods.
  • If you are a school or other institution, serving fresh picked local foods can increase the nutritional profile of your menu and help to promote healthy eating habits.

How do I find locally grown ingredients?
Farmers markets are the best place to start, as you can meet local growers and see what crops are available each month during the growing season.  From there you can:

  • Show up early to the market each week to purchase items for your seasonal menu.
  • Create a relationship with growers and receive shipments each week to your restaurant.
  • Collaborate with a grower and have specific crops grown for you, such a lettuce, tomatoes, fruits, and other desired menu items.
  • Seek out local cheeses, meats, and wines, which can be included on your menu year round.
  • Find out from your current food purveyor what local products they distribute

Are there any barriers to using locally grown ingredients? 
Generally cost and quantity are the two main barriers. Locally grown ingredients can sometimes be more expensive, but compared to products from major food distributors, you just can't beat the taste of truly farm fresh and artisanal products.  It's important to run your numbers and look at how locally grown ingredients can fit into your business plan.  With the issue of quantity, many choose to feature a "local" dish, which is available until it runs out.  Some also choose to focus on just a few local items they can find in quantity, such as meat, cheese, and commonly grown produce items.

Should I advertise that I use local products?
Absolutely.  By letting your customers know which products are locally grown, you advertise your support for local agriculture thereby expanding your market potential.  Also, it provides great advertising for the local farms which you source ingredients from, furthering the partnership between your businesses. If you are serving local in a school, advertising the farms where products came from can serve as a valuable educational tool.

What resources are available to me?
The Agriculture Collaborative hosts monthly meetings on a variety of topics, many of which are of interest to crop and livestock producers.  Sign up today for our e-newsletter and learn about upcoming meetings and workshops or view our past meeting topics online. Our Local Food Blog and our Events Calendar can help keep you up to date on what is happening locally and nationally with local foods and agriculture.   Be sure to also see the chefs and food service resource listing.

 

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