By Amanda Faison
November is always a time for reflection and gratitude. For us at the Good Food Media Network, this month provides the opportune time to give thanks to the farmers, ranchers, and fishermen and women who grow, nurture, and catch the good food that is at the center of the Good Food Movement. Most often, the accolades go to the chefs who showcase these ingredients in gorgeous and delicious dishes. But without the producers behind the scenes, all of those plates would be empty.
Good food starts at the source—in fertile dirt, on open pasture, and in clean water—and is tended to with respect and care until the moment of harvest. Knowing this, we asked a number of our Good Food 100 chefs from around the country to give shout-outs to some of their favorite producers. Take a look at what they have to say and note the diversity and dedication that a healthy food system hinges on:
Peter McCarthy, chef and co-owner, EVOO Restaurant:
At Eva’s Garden, Eva and her crew have been supplying much of southern New England with certified organic greens and herbs (cultivated and wild) for several decades. I have personally been buying from her since the late 1980s. She has branched out over the last several years helping other farmers distribute their goods. But when I think of Eva, the first things that come to mind are her greens and herbs because they are second to none.
The Food Project is an unbelievable nonprofit organization that brings together a diverse group of youths in an effort to promote a sustainable food system. I have had the pleasure of visiting the farm, working with the youth to produce community lunches, and seeing firsthand the work that this organization does. On top of all that, the Food Project supplies us with most of our tomatoes, a bunch of different vegetables, some herbs, and greens.
Before we started working with Andy Carbone of Carne Locale, we had difficulty finding a consistent source of local beef. Andy works with several small family cattle farms in western Massachusetts, processing two to four head per week and distributing the beef throughout the Boston area. We buy all of the tenderloins, as well as a fair amount of brisket, chuck, and ground beef.
Lauren Greene, co-owner, and Jason Greene, chef and co-owner, The Grove:
Silver Leaf Farms owners Aaron and Elan have operated the farm for more than eight years in the Village of Corrales in the Albuquerque area. They are game to grow anything new that we might request, they produce year-round which is huge for us in Albuquerque as the growing season can feel short, and they truly act as professionals when it comes to dependability, quality, and service.
What makes Vida Verde Farm fantastic? Seth was one of our original farmer partners and has been working with us for years. With creative offerings and open to anything, his variety of heirloom produce is awesome and ever-changing. Seth is incredibly dedicated to the growth of quality farming in Albuquerque.
Erik Oberholtzer, co-founder and CEO, Tender Greens:
P. Balistreri Salumi Company, winner of the Good Food Award for best salami in 2014, is a joint venture between Tender Greens chef Pietro Balistreri and the restaurants, featuring a variety of cured pig parts crafted in Southern California.
Pachamama Farms in Oregon raises organic pigs, goats, lamb, and turkey for Tender Greens that are featured on the menu throughout the year as specials. All of Michael Antoci’s animals are free to roam the forest surrounding the farm during the day and weather permitting. The meat is world-class and exclusive to Tender Greens, Erewhon Market, and Eataly in Los Angeles. The pork legs are used for the Balistreri hams (see above).
Weiser Family Farms grows heirloom potatoes, carrots, and summer melons for us and is celebrated among L.A. chefs for its commitment to native California grains in Tehachapi.
Point Loma Farms is a small certified organic farm in San Diego growing some the best seasonal row crops in the world. Tender Greens has been working with Point Loma for more than a decade as we have both scaled our business. In addition, we source all of our eggs from the farms’ hens whose diets include vegetable trimmings from Tender Greens in an effort to reduce food waste.
Scarborough Farms of Oxnard, California, is the original farm partner to Tender Greens. Jeff, Ann, and Brandon Stein have been growing some of the best lettuces, herbs, and heirloom tomatoes for our tables for years. Scarborough was one of our first investors, making them true equity partners.
James Arthur Smith at Omega Blue Seafood provides farmed Baja kampachi just south of the border. The aqua farm breeds, hatches, raises, and processes sashimi-grade kampachi using wild breeder adults to maintain genetic diversity and alleviate pressure on wild populations.
Spencer Lomax, Director of Sourcing, The Kitchen Restaurant Group:
It’s getting harder and harder to find real and independent dairy, but Morning Fresh Dairy in Bellevue is a prime example of dairy done the way it used to be. This picturesque and multigenerational farm at the mouth of Poudre River grows its own feed and processes its dairy on-site, and the end results are incredible.
Without local processing plants, it’s difficult to source locally raised meats so we’re thankful for our relationship with Innovative Foods in Evans. Innovative allows us to tap into our local community of farmers and ranchers, such as Roger Koberstein, who we work with on sourcing Angus steers for our whole-animal program.
Jenny Jones, purchasing manager, Untitled at the Whitney and Studio Café:
Zaid Kurdieh and his wife, Haifa, run Norwich Meadows Farm, an organic vegetable farm in Norwich. Zaid specializes in extending the rather short growing season through the extensive use of high tunnels. The range of vegetables that he sells to us is incredible. He is also constantly trying out new varieties, and works closely with Cornell University to help find the most delicious varieties of vegetables.
Jason Miller of Simply Fresh works with his fisherman friends in Montauk to bring us the freshest catch directly from the docks once or twice a week, depending on availability. The fish he brings is always of the highest quality, and it comes to us without the delay of a normal fish purveyor.
The Greenmarket Regional Grains Project has changed the way we understand and cook with grains. I can name countless example of ways in which this program has positively influenced our menus. It has also helped our team to understand the world of growing grains in the northeast. June Russell works tirelessly to keep this program relevant and to keep chefs interested in the products they source and the producers they work with. She and her team are a joy to work with. Some of the producers that we buy from through Greenmarket Grains are Maine Grains, Farmer Ground Flour, and Lakeview Organic Grain.
Roger Rodriguez of Cacao Prieto brings us a product that we can’t buy locally: chocolate! The company produces single-origin chocolate and sources exclusively from sustainable organic farms in the Dominican Republic. Roger, who is the vice president and the head chocolatier, personally flies to the Dominican Republic to inspect all of the products before they make their way here. He and his family have worked with dozens of Dominican chocolate farmers to teach them to grow organically, and then they buy from those farms to help them continue to be profitable.
Steven Satterfield, chef and co-owner, Miller Union:
At White Oak Pastures, Will Harris and his daughter Jenni work tirelessly to raise grass-fed beef, goat, and lamb and pastured pork, poultry, and rabbit. Their family farm has been in existence since 1866, but their practices have changed dramatically. As Will’s knowledge of farming has grown, so has his vision of animal welfare. Stewardship of the land and a “layers of life” philosophy have resulted in a multispecies model (from work animals such as herding dogs and livestock to wildlife and microbes) that mimics and respects nature’s order.
Jessica Duggan, co-owner, Colin Duggan, chef and co-owner, Kitchen Table:
We wouldn’t be the restaurant that we are without Bryan Kliewer and his wife Suzanne and their farm Squeaky Green Organics. The dialogue began before we opened and we continue to push each other to be better on a daily basis. Bryan specializes in the focused production of a wide variety of unique heirloom edibles. Nothing is beyond his interest, willingness to attempt, or to this point, ability to produce at the highest possible level. If we can dream it, he can and will produce it.
Dean Dvorak and his family’s Plum Creek Farms are the gold standard for chicken and eggs in Nebraska. The bonus is that Dean is without question the nicest and most genuine human being we have ever met.
We are somewhat famous for our BLT, and we only make it with Iowana Farm’s tomatoes. Farmer Terry Troxel doesn’t eat much meat, but during BLT season she comes in once a week for one. (We make a great team.)