Specialty Food Magazine


Specialty Food Magazine is the leading publication for retailers, manufacturers and foodservice professionals in the specialty food trade. It provides news, trends and business-building insights that help readers keep their businesses competitive.

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Page 127 of 131

Deck P age IntroPara and Page IntroPara ital BYLINE Headline "This is not sustainable," Meyers says. "This is the Garden State. We have great produce. But it's been slow-going. The more chefs who value this, the more likely it will be that the government will help to put the infrastructure in place." In St. Louis, Jeffrey Randol helped create a food hub several years ago—with a large scratch kitchen, cold and freezer storage, and processing equipment—that aggregated produce from local farmers so they could sell to larger institutional clients like schools and hospitals. Fields Foods, the new grocery store he co-founded, is an outgrowth of this successful hub and provides a greater demand stream for these farmers' produce, he says. The store has 25,000 square feet of grocery retail space and sells produce from 150 to 250 vendors, depending on the season, all located within a 100- mile radius of the store. The store is now able to partner with local farmers to help plan their growing season, giving the farmers added security and Randol's store the products his customers want. Collaborating with local, artisan vendors and then sharing these vendors' stories with customers is something Villani loves to do. For his Valentine's Day menu this year, he got to know the pasta maker in Brooklyn who created a rose-colored beet pasta for the special occasion. "Chefs now have a bigger voice than ever before," he says. "I come out and meet all the guests. You read them to see if they're open to hearing about the producers, and many are intrigued by it. They're learning more about the whole food system and not just thinking about the plate they're eating. It's a really exciting time." Far from Brooklyn, in the mountains of Virginia, Steven Hopp, founder of Harvest Table restaurant in Meadowview and husband of Animal, Vegetable, Miracle's Barbara Kingsolver, hired a manager to farm a quarter-acre and a large high tunnel on his farm to provide 80 different seasonal vegetables and herbs to fill in gaps for his restaurant. For Harvest Table's first three years of opera- tion, Hopp continually dealt with insufficient supplies of restaurant staples like onions and greens. Today, the restaurant serves mostly locally sourced foods, organic when he can get it, but his focus is on supporting as many employees and food providers as he can in his Appalachian community. "The bottom line is that we are devoted to this, but we do not make a profit," Hopp concedes. "I think as a business model this works in urban areas, but here we use democratic pricing and we try not to compromise the mission. Thankfully, my wife's book has been translated into 14 different languages and I can afford this." Creating an Infrastructure Sourcing local foods should become easier with an established foundation. Good Eggs' Spiro speaks of touring vacant buildings to find hub facilities for his delivery service that had been used for food production decades before. "In the past 50 years, our food system has become increasingly regionalized and the smaller-scale infrastructure has decayed. We hope to help create infrastructure," he says. In New Jersey, Laurie Meyers has attended meetings to create a food hub in her area. Until that happens, she has been known to drive to farms and put boxes of produce in the back of her car to get it to her brother's restaurant. She is currently working to develop a buying club with another farm-to-table restaurant. Robyn Pforr Ryan is a regular contributor to Specialty Food Magazine. Sourcing local foods should become easier with an established foundation. "The more chefs who value this, the more likely it will be that the government will help to put the infrastructure in place." PHOTO: PAUL OVERSTROM (continued from p. 32) SPRING 2014 125 lede_Spring2014.indd 125 3/18/14 2:19 PM

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