Farmers and Chefs Team to Serve Fresh Local Food

Farmers team up with Chef Rick Bayless and the Chefs Collaborative to use in-season, fresh local food for the meals served in their restaurants.

| October/November 2003

Learn how farmers and restaurants collaborate to supply fresh local food to restaurants.

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Market growers and chefs are teaming up to serve fresh, local fare in restaurants across the country.

Fresh ingredients constitute the hallmark of great cuisine, and top-ranked professional chefs take them very seriously, going to great lengths to procure the best for their culinary creations. In 1993, a group of like-minded chefs founded a national organization called the Chefs Collaborative to promote restaurant offerings based on such ingredients—fresh, local, in-season and sustainably raised.

"You can't have great cuisine without using great local ingredients," says Rick Bayless, Chefs Collaborative board member and chef-owner of the Frontera Grill and Topolobampo Restaurant in Chicago. The menus at his establishments include direct references to and tantalizing hints of the links he has established with local farmers and market gardeners. Among the offerings: "Maple Creek Farm pork loin in dark, spicy, honeyed pasilla sauce with mashed butternut squash and wilted spinach;" "charcoal-seared Crawford Farm lamb simmered with guajillo chilies, roasted tomatoes and garlic;" and "braised Swan Creek Farm rock hen with roasted apples, guajillo chilies and cilantro."

All of the Collaborative's chefs (more than 150) reach out to their suppliers—market gardeners, pastured-meat producers, foragers, shepherds and fishermen—in similar ways to form partnerships that also promote fair wages for the growers, support the local economy and encourage sustainable growing practices.

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