Spinella Farm

  (Waterford Works, New Jersey)
Life on a 100-year-old market farm
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Thoughts for Thursday, May 8, 2014

New chefs are like new parents. They want all the best for their restaurant and go out of their way to tell you so. They're going to use local fruits and vegetables. They're going to be sustainable and they are going to save the local farmer from extinction. Then reality hits.

Don't get me wrong.We have a number of dedicated chefs to the cause. But most of the time, a well-meaning chef loses his enthusiasm once a couple of realities set in:

1. Local food can be more expensive to purchase then wholesaled stuff from a purveyor. Farmers, like myself, deliver their product fresh. If we wanted to be paid cheaply we'd go to market with it.

2. Some fruits and vegetables need to be cooked more than one or two ways because they can be available for much of the growing season. It takes a leap of faith to challenge your clientele to leave their comfort zone which for most is food served fried or baked.

3. Preparation can take time and time is money when a cook's help has to clean the fresh stuff and get it ready for service.

The reason I wrote this is because I just delivered product to a new chef who told me all the things I wanted to hear. Will he be true to his word? Time will tell. But I'm not holding my breath. If I had a $1 for every chef or cook who told me that they were buying local and serving it as the focal point of their menu and did not, I'd be out of the farming business and comfortably at poolside during the summer. 

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