The Good Food 100 2017

Behind The Scenes

Giving thanks to the farmers, rancher, and purveyors who form the backbone of the Good Food movement.

By Amanda M. Faison

Last month, the Good Food Media Network held an Eat. Drink. Think. event in Denver, Colorado, honoring the state’s 45 restaurants—the most in the country—that participated in the annual Good Food 100 Restaurants survey. As part of that celebration, the chefs named both a producer and a purveyor of the year. “The Good Food 100 list shines the light on restaurants buying good food,” says Sara Brito, co-founder and president of the nonprofit. “But the ultimate goal is to support the farmers, ranchers, and fishermen who are behind the Good Food 100 chefs.”

That evening, the respective winners were announced and congratulated: Clint and MaryKay Buckner of Buckner Family Farm in Boulder County for their grass-fed and pasture-raised lamb, beef, and pork and Emma Stopher-Griffin and Matthew Kottenstette of Farm Runners, a regional food distributor in Hotchkiss. “We are incredibly grateful that we are in a place where chefs care about supporting the local community,” says Clint Buckner. “It is inspiring to see an organization like Good Food 100 stand up for local producers, purveyors, and chefs and reward those who do the right thing.”

In keeping with this theme, we asked Good Food 100 chefs and owners from around the country to shine the light on the producers and purveyors who help make their restaurants what they are. Here’s what they had to say:

“I would like to highlight Maple Wind Farm in Huntington and Richmond, Vermont. the farm is operated by Beth Whiting and Bruce Hennessy. They are a diversified farm offering pasture-based livestock, poultry, eggs, maple products, and certified organic vegetables. They also have an on-farm USDA-certified poultry processing facility. They understand the importance of—and are industry leaders in—rotational grazing and low environmental impact farming.” — Doug Paine, executive chef, Hotel Vermont, Burlington, Vermont (6 Links)

“Our situation is different because of our most remote location. We have our own farm and we produce most of our own produce, eggs, fruit, table flowers, and edible flowers. The only thing that makes us possible is our farmer Tony [Jacobsen] and our cattle rancher Katie [Coleman]. The other part is we have people on staff who are dedicated to preserving food. You can’t use all the strawberries or apples when they come in. A huge amount gets put up in all the ways. Our preference is to use what we produce. In the fall we have people working all day to fill freezers, jars, and the dehydrators to capture the harvest as it comes in.” — Blake Spalding, co-chef and co-owner, Hell’s Backbone Grill, Boulder, Utah (6 Links)

“At The Perennial, we are big fans of Stemple Creek Ranch. Loren [Poncia] is a fourth generation rancher in Petaluma, California, who has adopted practices known as carbon farming—part of a pilot project to reverse climate change. And it’s totally working! The 1/10th of the ranch under this process received a thin layer of compost five years ago to jumpstart restoration and Loren manages the way the cattle graze to optimize soil health and carbon drawdown (think planting trees but soil microbiology instead of a tree trunk). The environmental benefit has already taken as much greenhouse gas out of the atmosphere as not burning 1,000,000 gallons of gas. Oh yeah, and the beef is super delicious. — Anthony Myint, owner, The Perennial, San Francisco, California (6 Links)

“I feel very lucky to be so closely located to Frank Reese Jr. of Good Shepherd Poultry Ranch. Frank is a national treasure. He has spent a lifetime gathering knowledge about raising poultry of the highest quality and genetics through mentorship, practice, and research and freely gives it to anyone who asks. He is the last of dying breed. To me he is the quintessential Kansas farmer. He inspires me each time I have the opportunity to speak with him.” — Josh Rathbun, Siena Tuscan Steakhouse, Wichita, Kansas (6 Links)

“[Maya Dailey of Maya’s Farm] is dedicated to preserving and nurturing local, naturally grown food, providing healthy food to our city and raising awareness about the small-farm movement. Maya is an impeccable farmer upholding the highest standards by growing organic biodynamic food with immense attention to detail…. She cares for her farm and considers how each and everything she does impacts us all on a grand scale. She is a conscious farmer with immense talent for producing the most beautiful and flavorful vegetables I’ve ever tasted. At The Breadfruit & Rum Bar we’ve seen how our guests react to her lovely produce and flowers so much that we’ve decided it would only be fit to put an homage to Maya by giving her a menu item of her own: the Maya’s Farm Mélange. Whatever veggies Maya is growing is exactly and only what goes into this dish. People love how it is a reflection of what our local farmer is growing and how that mirrors the season so markedly. I think it gives them and our team a real profound sense of connection to the earth, reminding us of what the bounty of our Arizona soil can produce and what we should be eating.” — Danielle Leoni, executive chef and owner, The Breadfruit & Rum Bar, Phoenix, Arizona (6 Links)

“I do not have a favorite and definitely don't want to publish a favorite purveyor, but…I think it is important to leave the smallest carbon footprint as possible. We should be showcasing our fellow local purveyors and producers, after all, the locals are who drive our business. We are located in a hotel, and I want the out-of-towners to experience Indiana and see what we have to offer.” — Erin Gillum, chef de cuisine, Spoke & Steele, Indianapolis, Indiana (5 Links)