Our Food, Our Land, Our Culture, Season by Season
Spring 2016 • Issue No. 25
Spring Vegetables • Farmers & Chefs • Foraging COMPLIMENTARY Member of Edible Communities
Spring Contents 2016
6 8 10 12 18 20 22 25 28 36 40 42 44
Letter from the Editor
A Philosophy The synergy and creativity between Chef Jamie Simpson and The Chef’s Garden at The Culinary Vegetable Institute By Colleen Leonardi, Photography by Michelle Demuth-Bibb
Local and In Season Edible Aesthetics
RECIPES 8 23 27 27 27 55
Shallot Tarte Tartin Lemon Risotto with Sautéed Fresh Fava Beans Lemon and Garlic Roasted Leg of Lamb Dried Cherry-Almond Couscous Broccoli Hache Braised Radishes
Edible ABCs Policy Matters
Leaner, Greener, More Profitable and Productive Doing more with less on America’s small farms By Maya Parson
Edible Nation From the Kitchen Worth the Trip
Local Foodshed Edible Outdoors
The Vegetable Butcher Little Eater’s Cara Mangini gives veggies a star turn: at her restaurant, at her grocery and in a new cookbook By Nancy McKibben, Photography by Maria Khoroshilova
Foraged Flavors From the Good Earth
Home Plate What it takes for Columbus restaurants to bring true farm-to-table ingredients to you By Nicole Rasul, Photography by Maria Khoroshilova
Cover Our cover features petite Cherry Bomb radishes and Black Round, Lime Green, Purple Ninja and Watermelon radishes along with the radish’s ﬂowers and leaves compliments of The Chef’s Garden in Milan, Ohio (see page 32 for story). Our inspiration: still-life paintings (see page 10 for story). Photo by © Ryan Benyi, ryanbenyi.com, styled by Abigail Algueseva, cargo collective.com/aalgueseva
This Page Photo by © Michelle Demuth-Bibb of Quarry Hill Orchards and Winery in Berlin Heights, Ohio (see page 28 for story).
letter from the Publisher
How can we best get everything in its place, so our mind can be freed up to think, and our time can be freed up to concentrate on what is important?
edible Columbus Publisher & Editor in Chief
Tricia Wheeler Managing Editor & Editor
Colleen Leonardi Recipe Editor
Sarah Lagrotteria Copy Editors
Doug Adrianson • Susanna Cantor In House Designer Sandra Miller Design Melissa Petersen Business Director Sarah Maggied
At culinary school I learned how to mise-enplace, which literally means, “put in place.” We were taught to carefully prep our ingredients for the day in an orderly way—by measuring out everything we needed and lining it up on our sheet trays before we would begin to cook. I teach this same technique to home cooks at our cooking school. I think the idea of slowing down and concentrating on one thing at a time is a process that can be carried into other parts of our lives. How can we best get everything in its place, so our mind can be freed up to think, and our time can be freed up to concentrate on what is important? We learn in this issue of Edible Columbus from the former editor of Edible Michiana, Maya Parson, about Ben Hartman, a small-scale farmer who also believed there had to be a better way to
make his farm more lean, profitable and efficient, and reduce waste. He sought advice from a local manufacturing company, who was utilizing the Lean Model developed by a Toyota production system founder, Taiichi Ohno. The Lean Model has two goals: “eliminating waste, which can take the form of wasted time, materials or energy, and increasing value, by better identifying and prioritizing customers’ wants and needs.” Ben began applying this model on his small farm and the results were just what he hoped—a more profitable farm and more time to spend with family. We share his journey on page 47. This spring we can all take a closer look at how we are spending our time. Can we be more efficient, plan ahead, organize differently in order to be more productive during our working our hours, in the hopes that our leisure hours increase? I hope you enjoy this issue of Edible Columbus, and you learn a tip or two that helps make your spring even more enjoyable!
Abigail Algueseva • Charlie Allen Ryan Benyi • Michelle Demuth-Bibb Bryn Bird • Cheyenne Buckingham Frances Cannon • Nadine Cox Conrad Erb • Julia Flint • Julie France Emma Gerigcott • Claire Hoppens David Johnson • Maria Khoroshilova Colleen Leonardi • Sarah Lagrotteria Jim McCormac • Nancy McKibben Maya Parson • Victoria Pearson Nicole Rasul • Warren Taylor Anna Thomas • Sharon Teuscher Sarah Warda • Joshua Wickham Contact Us
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PHOTO By © CATHERINE MuRRAy, PHOTOkITCHEN.NET
look forward to spring cleaning. The busier I am, the more I crave order and simplicity. I love when spring arrives and I can open the windows, let a breeze flow through the house and watch the garden come alive—chives are first, then little leaves of mint sprout up, and by the time the tulips and daffodils arrive the party has begun. I start to serve salty butter and Easter egg radishes on toast points and my homemade ricotta and pea pasta appears. I want to gather friends and enjoy the sunshine.
letter from the editor “I thank you God for this most amazing day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything which is natural which is infinite which is yes” — e.e. cummings
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and clouds just like the Earth. We are springtime. I like to imagine this, yes, I do. So in this issue of Edible Columbus, as we enter our seventh year of publishing, we bring you what is beautiful and true. Vegetables. Columbus’ Cara Mangini of Little Eater celebrates the arrival of her first book, The Vegetable Butcher. We share Cara’s story and her recipe for Braised Radishes on page 52. And in Milan, Ohio, at The Chef’s Garden there is a special place called The Culinary Vegetable Institute. Executive Chef Jamie Simpson is making eating your vegetables fun again, and you must visit (page 32). We offer other destinations in that part of Ohio to make a weekend trip of it (page 28). The flavors of spring come forth in so many ways, so dig in. Kate Hodges of Foraged & Sown does exactly that year round, hunting for native plants and berries (page 44). Being able to forage for native plants is due, in part, to our pollinators, and our article on page 40 tells you how you can help preserve more plant life for the bees and the butterflies. If you’re looking to spend more time in the kitchen, recipe editor Sarah Lagrotteria gives us her recipe for Shallot Tarte Tartin (page 8) and The Seasoned Farmhouse Chef Joshua Wickham shows us how to make Lemon and Garlic Roasted Lamb (page 25). We’re also excited to share author Anna Thomas’ new cookbook, Vegan Vegetarian Omnivore: Dinner for Everyone at the Table as she looks at how to make meals inclusive of all eaters (page 23) and her recipe for Lemon Risotto with Sautéed Fresh Fava Beans. And we love Bryn Bird’s stories of what farm life is like for kids and how it changes their expectations about the world (page 18). This year we’re asking harder questions about how local restaurants and institutions bring true
farm-to-table food to you and how we, as eaters, hold them accountable to a higher standard of local fare. Read the first of our two-part article on this issue (page 57) and learn how you can take action to help strengthen the farmer to chef connection in Columbus. We’re also dedicating more page space to the relationship between health and food in our “Edible Wellness” section. We talk to Portia Yiamouyiannis of Portia’s Café about being a vegan (page 12) and Katie McKivergin of Organic GreenFix about the natural healing power of their smoothies (page 14). We also look at self-care for chefs and how they navigate wellness in the restaurant industry (page 16). And Warren Taylor of Snowville Creamery has been on the front lines in Washington demanding transparency in the new food labeling laws (page 20). Read what Warren calls “the biggest single and most contentious issue in American agriculture,” and learn how you can take action. Our seventh year also marks a commitment to aesthetics and art, for the culinary arts is an art form like any other. We come to the table for what is pleasing to the eye, not just the belly. Our cover photo is the first in a year of still lifes guided by the season and history of the still-life tradition in painting (see page 10 for story). We had so much fun making something beautiful and full of presence for you to hold in your heart. Yes! With gratitude,
PHOTO By © SARAH WARDA, SARAHWARDA.COM
pring is beautiful. Undeniable. All the colors that emerge from the blank canvas of winter. All the birdsong that saturates the blossom-scented air. All the vegetables at the market for spring salads and gatherings with friends. It’s just bliss. And I like to think that all of the beauty arriving in the forests, rivers and backyards is really evidence of all the beauty inside of us. That the little fuchsia radishes could mirror some color and form deep within our spirit. That we are made of rainbows
local and in season
What to Eat Asparagus • Broccoli • Breads • Cabbage • Carrots • Cheeses • Cilantro • Collards Eggs • Honey • kale • Maple syrup • Meats • Milk • Microgreens • Mustard greens Peas • Radishes • Rhubarb • Spinach • Strawberries • Swiss chard • Turnip greens
Sarah Lagrotteria is a FCI-trained chef who has worked for Mario Batali, taught writing classes on food culture at Stanford and contributed to numerous cookbooks. In 2003, Sarah co-founded Apples & Onions, a private chef company in Malibu, California. She now lives in Worthington with her husband, daughter Marlowe and son Ronan.
What to Cook Shallot Tarte Tatin By Sarah Lagrotteria Serves 6–8 kitchen legend tells us that the classic apple tarte Tatin was made in error. The idea was to create a pie filling of softly cooked apples. Instead, the sugar caramelized while the cook was doing who knows what—the 18th century version of Instagram?—and the rest, as they say, is sweet history. Here, we give spring shallots the tatin treatment, producing a caramelized savory tart that pairs well with an arugula and goat cheese salad or a roast filet of beef. It can also be cut into wedges as part of a luxurious cheese board. However you serve it, the ratio of effort to visual impact is heavily weighted toward the latter. —SL 8–10 medium shallots 4 tablespoons granulated sugar 3 tablespoons unsalted butter 3 teaspoons balsamic vinegar 2 sprigs fresh thyme 1 sheet puff pastry, defrosted Sea salt, to taste Special equipment: 9-inch cast-iron skillet (we like Lodge brand) and rolling pin Preheat the oven to 400°. Peel each shallot and cut in half the long way through the root. With double shallots (ones with two bulbs), peel and slice both. Set the skillet over medium high heat and sprinkle the sugar so that it coats the bottom of the pan in an even layer. Let the sugar cook without stirring until the edges begin to caramelize. Wearing a hot pad, swirl the pan gently to help the sugar caramelize evenly. While the sugar caramelizes, gently roll the puff pastry until an even 1/8-inch thick. Once the caramel reaches a golden brown, turn the heat to low. Add in the butter, swirling until melted. Stand away from the pan to avoid any caramel that spits and swirl in the balsamic vinegar. Lay the thyme sprig in the center of the pan. Working in a circular pattern from the outside in, lay the shallots cut side down in the caramel. Wedge the shallots in as tightly as possible while keeping them slightly submerged. Finish with one larger shallot right in the center. Lay your puff pastry over the shallots, gently tucking the edges down into the skillet. Continue cooking over low heat for about 5 more minutes, then place in the hot oven. Bake until the pastry is a dark golden brown, about 35–40 minutes. Remove the skillet from the oven and let sit for one
minute only to settle the
caramel. If the tart stays in the pan any longer, the caramel will harden and the shallots will stick to the pan. Place a large plate over the skillet and invert plate and skillet both to remove the tart from the pan. Sprinkle with sea salt to taste and serve warm or at room temperature.
Just W to Say
e on the Edible Columbus editorial board love beauty, whether it’s a candy-striped beet, a heavy table linen or a painted plate. At our last meeting of 2015, we started thinking of a way to share our enthusiasm with you and came up with the idea for “Edible Aesthetics.” Here, we’ll talk about all things beauty as it relates to food.
The early American still life By Sarah Lagrotteria
Raphaelle Peale, American, 1774-1825; “Blackberries,” ca. 1813; Oil on wood panel; 7¼ x 10¼ in. (18.4 x 26 cm); The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, gift of Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd, 1993.35.23
That decision inspired our cover design as well. This cover recalls Dutch Still Life of the 17th century. It’s the first in a series of four still-life inspired photos that we plan to style for you, one for each season of 2016.
Fresh from that editorial meeting, I left for the holidays with still-life painting on my mind. The genre has always moved me, something I attributed to the light, the rich colors and the fact that it often depicts kitchen life. Serendipity struck and I spent Christmas steps away from the Philadelphia Museum of Art and its exhibit Audubon to Warhol: The Art of American Still Life. Seeing so many still lifes in one space helped me think more about why I’m drawn to them. What I found surprised me. To look at still life isn’t to admire how light touches a bowl of fruit, but to realize how another presence, suddenly revealed, touches you. — Sarah Lagrotteria
Berry, stem, petal and seed. Meat and shell. Flesh, feather and bone. Porcelain, pewter and cloth. Raw ingredients and tableware peopled early American still-life painting with a vitality as strong as that found in the very best portraiture. More than a century after it was painted, you can almost smell the damp heat off a hare strung up by a fraying rope. The miracle of the early American still life isn’t the thrill of a new nation’s plant and wildlife. It’s the genre’s ability to create a presence that outfoxes death. The most visceral early still lifes isolate their objects from time and place. Framed by a near-black backdrop and a simple oak table, a few farm eggs or a chunk of fresh butter might have been painted two days or two centuries ago. Removed from a specific context, quotidian objects float free from time, offering up a life force that does not diminish even though the objects themselves have long since decayed. Those eggs could be your eggs. Still life was democratic from the start. A painter didn’t need access to a royal court or high church. A kitchen, a garden, wood and field, any and all of these places sheltered living beauty that could be plucked or foraged, shot and butchered. In America particularly, a vast expanse of natural
inspiration was there for the taking. Just as hunters and farmers tamed the open landscape, early American artists, most famously John James Audubon, documented on canvas the beasts and plant life that were distinctly American. Raphaelle Peale, the father of American still-life art, did much to catalog his young nation’s horticulture. One of his most famous works, Blackberries (c.1813), depicts the fruit at every stage of its life cycle: white flowers on stems, a few berries full and ripe, others just beginning to rot and drop their seeds. The berries’ luster and weight reflects the wealth of the new nation’s capital city and something even more divine. Peale’s horticulture paintings were considered works of “science” because they faithfully celebrated God’s creations. Gleaming in relief against the dark backdrop, Peale’s berries float, simultaneously at all stages of life. Each careful brushstroke testifies that there, in 1813 Philadelphia, grew fruit and bramble that was more than just plant life. It was Divine presence. The trick of the still life is to make us believe that the berries are here even as we know they
are gone. God, Peale’s “science” tells us, is perpetually present. Even as still lifes grew in scale, their familiar subject matter continued to embody social values. Almost a hundred years after Peale finished his berries, Joseph Rodefer DeCamp floated a young maid against a grey background, her face turned toward window light and her arms raised as she polishes a blue china cup (The Blue Cup, 1909). More china rests on a lacquered table at her side. Only a few years earlier, during the height of the Gilded Age, china pieces would have filled the canvas. Here, at the start of the Progressive Era, material wealth is acknowledged, but there beats a more humane heart. What draws us in is the maid’s face. Softly lit, she smiles at the beautiful cup in her hand. We’ve looked that way at loveliness before. We are, in fact, looking at her that way. Our recognition of her as a kindred spirit is immediate, a cut across class lines. In her, we glimpse the thing we most want to believe about ourselves: We are not limited by our station, but carry within us an appreciation of beauty that connects us as one.
Like brush strokes, words can also evoke the magic of the still life. In This is Just To Say (1934), the poet William Carlos Williams confesses: I have eaten the plums that were in the icebox and which you were probably saving for breakfast Forgive me they were delicious so sweet and so cold Fruit that was once there then eaten remains forever present in the reader’s mind. Like painted still life, Just To Say is and isn’t about the plums. Love is there. Passion and daring too. But it is intimacy most of all, the you and the me that value both the plums and this half-teasing closeness. In 28 words, Williams unpacks the eternal allure of the still life: a sudden intimacy that is as palpable and desirable as icy black plums on a warm, summer night.
Being Vegan with Portia Yiamouyiannis
Q: When did you start your business? What made you decide to be a vegan-only restaurant? A: I started my business almost three years ago. The reason why it is a vegan-only restaurant is it all started with growing up on a farm. We had animals that we slaughtered to eat: sheep and lamb, and cows and chickens to an extent. I became really close to them, but I did what our parents told us to do. When I was in college, one of my friends had me go see a PETA movie, and I saw how they are really treated and it’s horrific. It’s just so sad, and knowing that my babies— which are just like pets—are going through what these animals are going through, you will never eat meat again. So I saw that and even though I love the flavor, there is no way I could be a part of it. It was a huge eye-opener, not just the slaughter but [also] the raising of the animals. I can’t believe that everyone is not vegan. That’s what got me into the vegan thing; it was love for other beings.
Q: What does good food mean to you? A: It just means something that keeps you alive, healthy, happy, and keeps you from getting sick. Makes you excited about life; energy has a lot to do with it. You have a better outlook on life when you have good food. When you look all around the world, the people who live the longest and the people who live the healthiest are the ones on the vegan and plant-based diet. That’s what good health is about—feeding your body what it needs to survive.
Q: What is one important food-eating tip you would like to share? A: I have a good tip for eating healthfully. A couple times a week, when you buy your produce, you bring it home and you wash it and prepare it right away. And get cute little containers for your refrigerator to put them in and have some salads already prepared. Also, have this little thing of cut carrots, washed lettuce, cabbage and all the vegetables that are not going to rot already in there [the refrigerator] washed. So when you come home after a big day you can make a stir-fry and that’s like a five-minute thing. You can make a casserole with different sauces and put it in the oven. You can make a soup. You can make a salad. And you can choose all the different things you have because it’s easy. Cooking beans and rice ahead of time can last a few days, too.
Q: What does it mean to be healthy? A: It’s the holistic thing. It has to include everything from what you eat, how you think, how you live your life and dealing with emotions. What you eat, of course, is important: a lot of fresh or raw vegetables and fruits. Organic is very important, because you don’t want to be eating toxins because your body has to try to get rid of them and they like to get stored in fat. Getting enough sleep—your body has to repair from everything that happened. Good clean water, having no fluoride in it, is super important. The longest-living beings, they eat a plant-based diet, but they also have a sense of purpose and a spiritual connection kind of thing. When I say spirit, it doesn’t have to be any religion at all. It can be a connection with nature; it can be as simple as that.
The longest-living beings, they eat a plant-based diet, but they also have a sense of purpose and a spiritual connection kind of thing. When I say spirit, it doesn’t have to be any religion at all. It can be a connection with nature; it can be as simple as that.
Q: What recipes will you be making this spring? A: There’s a couple, because there’s new ones and ones I will bring from the past. Something new, inspired by my daughter. She would make an Asian slaw [with] kohlrabi, Napa cabbage and radishes. I am going to add apple and cilantro, and flavor it with rice vinegar, coconut aminos, toasted sesame seed oil and sesame seeds. And then my new thing: I am going to make hemp burgers. Hemp is one those super-duper foods that everybody needs because hemp is one of the best proteins for your body to absorb. It gives you Omega-3 fatty acids and it gives you good fiber and all these other minerals. Mixing that with quinoa, brown rice, veggies like onions, mushrooms, carrots, and that’s the base of it. I am still going to experiment with maybe having a couple different ones.
— Cheyenne Buckingham
These are the words that Lisa Galat McKivergin said to her daughter Katie when she was a child, after she frantically asked her mother why she couldn’t buy the foods she saw her peers eat. Pudding, bologna sandwiches on white bread—without the crust—chips and a blue-flavored juice box, are just some examples of the normal lunches Katie was referring to. Instead, her lunch box contained weird foods including a thermos filled with homemade soup, a piece of fresh fruit and some change for a carton of milk. It was her mother’s teachings, however, that stuck with her throughout her life and encouraged her to value the foods that she puts into her body.
Health in a Cup
Today, Katie McKivergin co-owns Organic GreenFix smoothie company with her parents, Lisa and Jim McKivergin. The family started business at the Granville Farmers Market in 2011, selling a unique blend of smoothies that contain a vibrant combination of fresh, local and organic produce. But the inspiration for the company began elsewhere in their family. “I have been surrounded by natural healers and believers my entire life,” Katie explains, “Organic GreenFix started with my family in San Diego, California.”
into their smoothies is conventionally grown. Katie sees non-organic items as fake foods because of the synthetic additives they contain. “Non-organic produce is made up of pesticides (which are made up of deadly, cancercausing chemicals), preservatives (similar to those used to preserve a corpse), artificial sweeteners (which cause diabetes and cardiovascular disease) [and] artificial colors (made from ground-up insects),” says Katie. That once-little girl who so desperately wanted to eat the foods her present self would now describe as fake is no more. As the coowner of a company that solely purchases 100% organic produce, her smoothies are free from any genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. She only utilizes real, whole foods in both her Original and Raw smoothies. The Original and Raw Smoothie options are equivalent in nutrition in the sense that they both contain the same amount of raw ingredients. Both smoothies consist of kale, Swiss chard, collard greens, dandelion greens, parsley, romaine lettuce, spinach, apples and bananas. The only difference is that the Original has a little bit of organic, unfiltered apple juice in it. Most of these ingredients are locally sourced, as well. “Whenever possible, we source our products locally,” says Katie. “Local produce is fresher. Generally, it has literally been harvested that day. And also, when you buy locally, you support the local economy. It’s a beautiful circle.”
In 1999 her cousin Phil was diagnosed with ALS and as his illness progressed, he lost his ability to swallow solid foods. His mother, Katie McKivergin, co-owner of Organic GreenFix Erica, who Katie pegs as the naturopath of the family, concocted a vegetable-based She has bought collard greens, kale, lettuce, parsley and Swiss chard from smoothie that would provide him with all of the vitamins and minerals he Mark Van Fleet of Small Fortune Farms and Sunbeam Family Farms. Katie would need for the day. Unfortunately, ALS took Phil’s life in 2004. But and her parents also cultivate fresh fruits and vegetables in their own gardens Erica’s persistent efforts to fuel her son with nutrient-dense smoothies did and integrate them into their smoothies, too. not go unnoticed. Phil’s brother, Daniel, was intrigued by the health benefits each one of his mother’s smoothies contained, so he asked if he could Fake foods are not in Organic GreenFix’s company vocabulary. The McKtry selling her recipe at the local farmers market. By 2011, he was selling ivergins have made it their mission to fuel the local community with “GreenFix” smoothies at 11 farmers markets each week in California. Now, healthful, nutrient-dense smoothies. Katie and her immediate family own their own storefront at 4426 Indianola Ave. in Clintonville. “We are here to provide health in a cup. We want to help heal and nourish “The company’s views, as well as my personal view and most of my family’s, is that it all starts within you,” says Katie. “Healing yourself and maintaining health starts with what we put in, on and around our bodies.” It is significant to note the word “organic” that stands before “GreenFix” in the McKivergin’s company name. None of the produce they incorporate 14
you from the inside out. Our goal is to help heal those that need it and help maintain health for everyone,” says Katie.
— Cheyenne Buckingham
PHOTO COuRTESy OF ORGANIC GREENFIx
“Normal is boring.”
Self-Care for Chefs
hen you take a bite of risotto with smoked tomato purée and colorful poached beets, you’re probably thinking of the dish’s flavors and its overall delicacy. But behind every exquisite meal is the work of a chef that entails long hours, worn-out knees and the pressure to please ever-changing eaters and their taste buds. In April 2015, Homaro Cantu, chef and founder of Michelin-starred Moto in Chicago, took his life. Sadly, the event was not an anomaly within the industry. “As far as the industry’s concerned, I can’t remember a period over the past 18 months to two years where we have lost so many high-profile chefs in our industry due to stress—due to diseases that have been brought about by lifestyles that the industry tends to cultivate,” says Kevin Caskey, owner and chef at Skillet in German Village. The disturbing trend is raising the question for Kevin and other chefs in Columbus and beyond: What does self-care for chefs look like? “If we know it’s happening amongst the ranks of those chefs and restaurateurs that are highprofile, the numbers are probably unimaginable for the day-to-day working chef,” says Kevin.
For Kevin, ensuring that his employees make time to relax at the end of the day helps combat the consequences of such a demanding lifestyle. “We have a sense of comradery from a family meal—having the opportunity where everyone can sit down for 10 minutes and eat every day, which only for us happens at the end of the shift, as opposed to most restaurants having it prior to the start of the shift,” says Kevin. Having the meal after a shift rather than before is crucial since it means employees can truly destress since their work is done for the day. “It’s just 10 to 15 minutes at the end of the day when 16
everyone can kind of collectively sigh together and say, you know, we made it through another one—so to speak—if it’s been a rough one. Or, if it hasn’t been a shift to that extreme, just to collaborate with each other—a sense of togetherness,” says Kevin.
But creativity does come to a halt when Bill’s general manager asks him why he’s still at work, which is all too frequently. And Bill has also gained a better balance of work and family, which has allowed him to enjoy time with his current wife and children from both marriages.
For Bill Glover, executive chef at Gallerie Bistro & Bar at the Hilton Downtown, a seat at the end of the day would be much appreciated. “When you think about the long hours just standing on concrete or hard tiles floors, it ages you. You know, my knees are not 39-year-old knees. They’re older,” says Bill with a chuckle. “I’ve been in kitchens 24 years.”
Warding one’s self from burnout isn’t purely a matter of balancing one’s time, however. A major stressor for a chef can be the tension between the front and back of the house brought about by pay discrepancies.
Bill admits that the hours are brutally long. In previous jobs, Bill has woken up at noon to go to work at 3pm to work all through the night. Those hours were partially what led to a divorce. Though some may question how necessary such long hours may be in the culinary field, for Bill it’s of essence. There are the hours when you work to feed and then the hours you work to create—to stay in the game. “I think that something that happens to a lot of chefs as they age is they find something that works early in their careers, like the diners’ opinion with their food, and they develop their own style,” says Bill. “But they arrest their own development whether it’s from a technology standpoint or the trends that are part of the now. It tends to date them and make them less hirable.” Once a day’s work is done, Bill experiments so he doesn’t arrest his own development. “I have a style, no doubt, and it will always be my style—but you have to find ways to evolve and stay current with what people are eating,” says Bill. “You have to have an antennae, so to speak, to monitor your dining audience and cook for the crowd—not for yourself.”
“I think it would do good to include a tip in the bill,” says Kevin. Though Skillet does not include a tip when billing customers, it resolves some chef-to-waiter tension in other ways. “We foster—we don’t mandate—but we foster an environment here at Skillet where the front of the house voluntarily tips out to those that work in the back of the house, as far as the dishwashers and host and hostesses are concerned,” says Kevin. “Because we’ve been able to cultivate an overall team attitude and because we are a smaller-based restaurant—therefore we’re a smaller crew—it’s easier to foster that sense of teamwork, that we’re all in this together.” Skillet’s suggestion to share tips works. But still, there’s no better tool than the mind—when it comes to self-preservation in a demanding but gratifying profession. “For me personally, it’s just changing my way of thinking—not feeling that you’re isolated and that you’re the only one who’s working these hours and that you’re the only one within the industry,” says Kevin, “or you’re the only one in your business that’s having to put all this time in.”
— Julie France
Kids Love Vegetables By Bryn Bird
Our farmer heart breaks each time. We want to desperately just hand it over for free because we know the big secret—kids do love fresh and local food.
This past summer on the way to a family vacation they stopped at a drive-thru fast food restaurant. Lindsey yelled back asking for everyone’s orders. Olivia replied, “ummmm…. Do they have microgreens?”
Our family was not raised on a farm. My parents were transplanted to the farm at the age of 50 and my brother and I came along as reluctant teenagers. Both my brother and I married non-farmers and brought them back with us to the farm. I grew up believing green beans came from a can and my Mom thought beets were only eaten pickled and never fresh. Everyone believes since we live on a produce farm and grow Swiss chard year round we must be the healthiest eaters around, but the truth is we still struggle to put down the donuts, too.
They live amongst the vegetables and eat what they see. The girls have become farm advocates without realizing it, taking bags of cucumbers and extra carrots to share with friends during school lunch. Their schoolmates had never seen someone eat a cucumber like an apple, or eat a carrot with dirt still in the cracks, but when they tried it they, too, loved the flavor and begged the girls to bring more. So Lindsey packs extra vegetables and the girls share their goodies with anyone at the table.
t happens like clockwork each week at the farmers market. “Mom, can we buy the purple one?” says a little head peaking over the table.
“No, honey, you wouldn’t like that,” says Mom.
That is, until we had four little farm girls enter our world that have challenged us and taught us how to eat from the land. My brother, Lee, and his wife, Lindsey, are the proud parents to the four biggest locavores we have ever known, and we do not deserve the credit. Olivia (8), Ella (7), Sophia (5) and Claire (3) have taught us exactly what happens when kids are raised on a produce farm from birth. Their story is different than most kids, and is an amazing insight in to what happens when your cultural norm is endless baskets of dirty carrots and left over rutabaga on the counter. Unlike even most Ohio farm kids whose parents raise commodity grains or livestock, these four open their backdoor to three-plus acres of broccoli plants, a few hundred kohlrabi and a puddle full of their “pet tadpoles.” This past summer on the way to a family vacation they stopped at a drivethru fast food restaurant. Lindsey yelled back asking for everyone’s orders. Olivia replied, “Ummmm…. Do they have microgreens?” Obviously, everyone has a leftover stash of microgreens in the fridge. I have shared the picture of Ella trick-or-treating with her bucket of candy in one hand and her taking a huge bite out of the head of raw broccoli she stole from the market truck right before leaving. We’ve had moments we’ve asked if we could “treat” them to ice cream after market, cheerleading events or school musicals only to have them beg in the highest of voices for “cherry tomatoes” or “lettuce from the high tunnel!” I have more videos than my phone can hold of the girls asking us to record them having a “spinach eating contest” or some other random vegetable that most of us only eat to try and be healthy. To the girls, it is just normal.
The girls defiantly disagree with me that most Americans don’t live on farms and very few grow their own food. I showed them how most food comes from California or Central America, and 5-year-old Sophia simply said, “That’s not smart. It comes from Daddy.” In just the past few months, there have been frantic dinner phone calls between the adults looking up recipes for rutabaga fries, or how to sauté beets and Swiss chard at the request of the 7 year old. In my experience parenting, I have noticed that when I finally step out of the way of my child she always surprises me and can do more than I ever expected. The same is said for the parent protecting their child from the purple kohlrabi at market and reminding them, “you don’t like that.” Let’s give them the opportunity a hundred times over to love and revel in fresh, local food; to be the generation that doesn’t struggle to eat healthy and looks at kale as what they want to eat instead of what they should eat. Kids love vegetables, if we just get out of their way.
Bryn Bird is a farm girl hailing from a dirt road outside Granville, Ohio. She grew up raising livestock and produce on her family’s farm, Bird’s Haven. She holds a master’s degree in public health from George Washington university and is now empowering the rural lifestyle through her work with the Canal Market District in Newark, Ohio, and serving on the Board of Directors for the Ohio Ecological Farm and Food Association.
Real Food Freedom Impending laws deny our freedom to know what’s in our food and what you can do to take action By Warren Taylor
merica is very serious about the right to religious freedom. It’s time that we extend religious freedom to include the freedom of our belief systems regarding food.
My belief system is that we have a lot to learn from nature before destroying complex natural systems, including the incredible biodiversity in our soil. I do not believe that the very different digestive systems of pigs, which are similar to humans, chickens and multi-stomached cows, are magically eliminating the pesticides sprayed on their food. Most importantly, I believe that American citizens have the right to exercise their belief systems, particularly when it comes to their choice of food and how it is produced. The industrial agriculture system believes in developing a technical superiority over nature, taming nature with manipulated genetics, which allows applying poison to food. About 90% of the genetically modified seed used worldwide is modified to allow food plants to be sprayed with poison. The spraying of this poison results in elimination of soil life forms. It also contaminates our air, water and soil with these new man-made poisons. The vast majority of food grown with these poisons is corn and soybeans, and the majority of those grains are fed to animals whose milk, meat and eggs we eat. The belief system of industrial agriculture assumes that cows, pigs and chickens eating this poison-laced grain magically eliminate those poisons without passing them on to the people drinking the milk, or eating meat and eggs from those animals. They also believe they can mislead consumers by labeling milk produced with growth hormones and GMO feed as non-GMO milk.
or calling the Washington, D.C. offices of both Ohio senators saying you will be disappointed if they pass a labeling law allowing milk from cows injected with hormones and fed GMOs to be labeled as non-GMO. Senator Sherrod Brown: 202-224-2315; 200 North High St., Room 614, Columbus, Ohio 43215. Senator Rob Portman: 202-224-3353; 312 Walnut St., Suite 3075 Cincinnati,
Ohio 45202. The use of the bovine growth hormone in America’s drinking milk supply was effectively ended six years ago when American grocery stores refused to accept milk from dairy farmers who used the hormone, because their customers did not want to buy that milk. There is virtually no drinking milk in America today that is produced with the use of that hormone. Most milk is labeled to say that it is produced without that hormone. If we don’t act, that may change. Perhaps the grocery stores will prove, again, to be more responsive than our U.S. Congress to the mandate of consumers. Please consider sending a letter to your grocery stores telling them you will be disappointed if they sell milk labeled as non-GMO from cows injected with hormones and given GMO feed. Kroger: 1014 Vine St., Cincinnati, Ohio 45202 Meijer: 2929 Walker Ave. NW, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49544-9424 Giant Eagle: 101 Kappa Dr., Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15238 Costco: PO Box 34331, Seattle, Washington 98124
I don’t believe it.
Walmart: 702 SW 8th St., Bentonville, Arkansas 72716
Congress is currently writing a new food labeling bill, which is based, we are told, on House Bill 4432, and which allows the milk produced by cows injected with hormones and fed GMOs to be labeled as non-GMO. People expect non-GMO labeling to confirm that the milk has been produced without GMOs.
The right to know how your food is produced will not be given to you by industrial agriculture or the Congress. That right must be taken by the active engagement of the American people. Let’s tell both elected representatives and grocery stores that they are supposed to serve us and our beliefs.
Our Congress appears ready to actively mislead the American people. Together we can make them do it. We shouldn’t let them. In December 2015 Snowville Creamery commissioned a national polling company, which found that 76% of Ohioans expected that a non-GMO milk label would mean that the cows were fed non-GMOs. Wouldn’t you?
Warren Taylor is the owner of Snowville Creamery in Pomeroy, Ohio. Warren and Victoria’s Snowville Creamery strives for continuous improvement producing outstanding grass-grazed dairy products in an integrated local food
Aren’t you shocked that “non-GMO” milk may come from cows injected with genetically engineered hormones?
system with dairy farmers, feed producers, distributors and retailers. Farmers are paid stable premium prices, and linked to consumers for the benefit and pleasure of both.
Our government is taking public deception far beyond denying mandatory GMO labeling to actively mislead consumers. Please consider sending letters
Gathering my friends around the table has been one of the joys of my life, and I don’t invite people over because they eat the same way I do. I’m willing to bet you don’t either. We invite folks because we love them, or we want to know them better, or they tell the best jokes! Or maybe simply because we’re related. Can we all sit down and have dinner together? Over the past few years, I have begun to hear more and more laments from people who were afraid to entertain because this one would only eat that, and the other one wouldn’t eat this. The way we eat is changing, but we’re different, and we’re in very different places on that larger curve. We need to find a way with food, I thought, that allows us to relax and be flexible, and to just have a good time. Well, here’s the thing: In our traditional American food culture we have a default setting: meat in the middle, grains and vegetables on the side. Those familiar meals could be adapted, of course, but we’d immediately be taking something away, substituting—compromising. Of course, we could prepare two separate meals, but what a hassle! And let’s face it, then there would be an A meal and a B meal, and who wants to be on the B list? We’re doing this backwards, I thought. Why not start with the food everyone eats?
One Feast Fits All Vegan, vegetarian, omnivore—everyone’s welcome at this table By Anna Thomas Photography by Victoria Pearson
Everyone eats the watermelon at the picnic. It’s not the vegan watermelon, it’s just the watermelon. Everyone eats the minestrone and the focaccia. Everyone eats the roasted potato wedges with mojo verde that I serve with cocktails, and my wild mushroom risotto.
It seemed so simple. Start with the foods everyone eats, create a dish or a meal that works, then add and elaborate … expand with eggs, cheese, fish or meat … make it flexible. Make one meal, but one that can be enjoyed in variations. It became my holy grail: to design meals at which we could sit down together, toast each other and eat happily in my peaceable kingdom.
Yes, I believe that what I put on the table is important. But there is one thing more important: Who is at the table?
I made a savory chile verde with fat white beans and added chicken to half of it. I made Lebanesestyle stuffed peppers filled with aromatic rice and lentils, but added spiced lamb to half the stuffing. I made meals built around hearty pilafs of farro and black rice, surrounded by roasted vegetables—and slices of pork for the omnivores. My easy fish soup became a dinner party favorite. It begins as a robust vegetable soup and the fish
he way we eat is changing—that’s not news anymore. I remember when, as a budding vegetarian, I couldn’t eat out in Los Angeles—in Los Angeles!—except at a handful of hippie cafés. I became an upstart in the food scene by writing The Vegetarian Epicure in 1972, while I was still a film student at UCLA. I think it was self-defense. Since that time, I’ve cooked a lot, eaten constantly, entertained often and written four more books. And now—good grief—I’m the O.G.
Lemon Risotto with Sautéed Fresh Fava Beans Vegetarian • Serves 6 to 8 as a center-of-the-plate dish Although the ingredients are simple, I think of this as a luxury dish: fresh fava beans are a seasonal delicacy, and shelling this many rates as an act of culinary devotion. The risotto is aromatic with lemon zest and richly satisfying with the bright green new favas—a bowlful of spring. 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for garnish 4 cloves garlic, minced 2 cups peeled fresh green fava beans, from 1 pound shelled beans (see note) 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice Sea salt ¾ cup finely chopped shallots 8–9 cups light vegetable broth, diluted if salty 2½ cups Arborio rice ¼ cup dry white wine 1½ tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
and shellfish are added at the last minute, so it can easily be served in two versions. And one spring weekend, after my weekly visit to the Ojai Certified Farmers Market, I made a delicate, lemon-perfumed risotto with sautéed fresh fava beans. I offered large shavings of Parmigiano, and passed a platter of sautéed shrimp to be added as a garnish for those who wanted it. It was a perfect springtime meal, bright and full of the fresh taste of the season. Here is that risotto in a menu that can be kept very simple. Make a salad of the first tender lettuces to begin, and finish with a bowl of strawberries. Or make it a dinner party by adding a starter of carrot-top pesto served with roasted young carrots, crostini and tangy goat cheese. For dessert, combine our amazing local Gaviota strawberries with Ojai tangerines, all drizzled with a light syrup to make a compote that can only be enjoyed at this perfect moment of the year. And invite everyone you like; call them to the table without fear. We long for that social table—it is a place of sharing of stories and jokes, old friendships and new, a place where we can become our best selves. Let’s not give it up just because we don’t all eat the same way!
½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for the table Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium sauté pan, add the garlic, and stir for about 30 seconds. Add the peeled fava beans and sauté them over medium-high heat, stirring almost constantly, for 3 to 4 minutes, or until they color lightly. Add 1 tablespoon lemon juice, sprinkle the beans with a big pinch of sea salt, give them one more stir, and remove them from the heat. Set them aside as you prepare the rice. Heat the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large sauté pan and stir the shallots in it over medium heat, with a dash of salt, until they are soft, 6 or 7 minutes. Bring the vegetable broth to a simmer, cover it, and keep it hot on the lowest flame. Be sure that your vegetable broth is not too strong or salty. Add the rice to the shallots and stir over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the wine and stir as it evaporates. Add 1 cup of the hot vegetable broth, lower the heat to a simmer, and stir as the broth is absorbed into the rice. Continue adding broth, about a cup at a time, stirring almost constantly. As each cup of broth is nearly absorbed, add the next cup and stir again, and so on until the rice is tender but firm and a creamy sauce has formed around it, 20 to 25 minutes. Stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons lemon juice and the lemon zest, as well as two-thirds of the sautéed fava beans, reserving the rest for a garnish. Stir in the Parmigiano, and then, just before serving, add a final, generous ladleful of broth. Immediately spoon the risotto into shallow bowls and scatter a few reserved fava beans on top of each serving. Pass the olive oil carafe and the additional grated Parmigiano-Reggiano at the table. A Seafood Variation Lemon risotto can be made with shrimp instead of fava beans, or along with them. Peel and devein about 1 pound of fresh shrimp, wash them, and have them ready as you begin to cook the risotto. When the rice has been cooking about 15 minutes, sauté the shrimp for a moment in some olive oil with a bit of garlic and a splash of white wine. Stir the shrimp into the risotto, or into part of it, just before serving. Or add a few sautéed shrimp on top of individual servings. The large Prawns Sautéed with Garlic, which are left unpeeled, also make a good pairing. About Those Fava Beans The well-protected fava beans must first be taken out of their large pods; then
Longtime Ojai resident Anna Thomas wrote the iconic cookbook “The Vegetarian
the beans need to be peeled, one by one. It’s a bit of work, but not so much that it should stop you. I timed myself the last time I peeled a pound of shelled favas (about 3 cups beans in their jackets): 20
she was still a film student at uCLA, followed by its
minutes. Not a tragedy. So bring a pot of water to a boil and drop in the shelled favas. When the water
2 sequels and “Love
simmers again, give them 2 to 3 minutes, depending on their size. Drain them, rinse briefly with cool
Soup.” Her newest book, “Vegan Vegetarian Omnivore: Dinner for Everyone at the Table (W. W. Norton & Co., 2016)
water, and then slip off their skins while they are still warm. you’ll have a generous 2 cups when the beans are peeled.
hits shelves in April.
from the kitchen
Lamb By Chef Joshua Wickham â€˘ Photography by Ryan Benyi
Lamb for spring. This delicate, nourishing meat is a celebration of the rebirth of the Earth when the greenest grasses rise and traditional feasts like Easter and Passover are celebrated. Spring lamb is born in the fall, raised on their mother’s milk in the winter and then fed early spring grasses. We show you how to prepare your own leg of lamb at home with a Dried Cherry-Almond Couscous and Sautéed Broccoli Hache to brighten and lighten the robust, smooth flavor of lamb. Enjoy.
Dried Cherry-Almond Couscous Serves 6 1½ cups chicken broth or stock ½ cup dried cranberries, lightly chopped ¼ teaspoon ground cumin 1 cup uncooked couscous (Moroccan style) ⅓ cup vegetable or canola oil
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar ½ cup almonds, sliced, lightly toasted
Lemon and Garlic Roasted Leg of Lamb
⅓ cup scallions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons fresh mint leaves, chopped
3 lemons 6 garlic cloves, minced ½ cup finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
In 2-quart saucepan, heat broth, dried cherries and cumin to boiling. Remove from heat; stir in couscous. Cover; let stand 15 minutes. Fluff with fork.
4 tablespoons olive oil, with additional set aside for roasting kosher salt and black pepper to taste 1 4–6 pound leg of lamb, boned and unrolled Butcher’s twine
In small bowl, beat oil and vinegar with whisk; pour over couscous. Add almonds, scallions and mint; toss well. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.
2 cups chicken stock
Broccoli Hache Heat the oven to 425° and place a rack in the center. Zest the three lemons and then cut in half to juice, set the juice aside. Place the lemon zest, garlic, parsley and four tablespoons of oil in a medium bowl
This is a great recipe as it uses the stems of the broccoli. The stems are sweet and provide a wonderful texture that is missing when just the flowerets are served. —JW
and season with salt and pepper. Stir until evenly combined; set aside.
Serves 6 2 heads broccoli (about 2 pounds)
unroll the lamb, lay it flat on a cutting board and remove any large pieces of connective tissues. Season the lamb with salt and pepper, then spread the
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
lemon-garlic-parsley paste over the seasoned meat. Roll the lamb back up
1 large onion, cut into ½-inch dice
and tie with twine to evenly secure. Season the exterior with some olive oil,
4 cloves garlic, minced Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
salt and pepper, and place the leg in a roasting pan.
Cayenne pepper to taste (optional) Place the lamb leg in the oven and reduce the temperature to 400°. Roast until the internal temperature reads 135°, about 1 to 1½ hours. Once removed
Cut stalks off the broccoli, and peel off the coarse fibrous skin using veg-
from the oven, transfer to a cutting board and allow to rest for a minimum of
etable peeler. Dice stalks into ½-inch pieces, cut florets into ½-inch pieces,
20 minutes, up to 30 minutes. Remove the twine and carve for serving.
and set aside.
While lamb is resting, deglaze the roasting pan with the chicken stock.
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic,
Transfer to a small bowl, skim off any excess fat. Pour defatted juices into
and cook until softened, about 4 minutes. Add chopped broccoli stalks and
a small sauce pot and reduce lightly. Serve jus alongside of the sliced leg
cook until stalks soften, about 3 minutes, tossing pan regularly to avoid any
over-browning. Add broccoli florets, continuing to sauté until tender and bright green. Season with salt, pepper and cayenne. Serve hot.
worth the trip
Lake Shore Adventures Exploring Erie County’s culinary highlights By Nicole Rasul Photography by Michelle Demuth-Bibb Illustration by Sharon Teuscher
he land on the southern shores of Lake Erie has a fertile growing history.
With rich, well-draining soil, a remnant of the glacial past, and an extended growing season due to the lake’s unique microclimate, the region is known for its fruit belt along the body of water’s southern coast. Only a couple of hours from Central Ohio by car, Lake Erie in the spring is a treat. Day-trippers will find a handful of culinary gems rooted in the region’s rich agricultural traditions and exceptional growing conditions.
The Culinary Vegetable Institute at The Chef’s Garden in Milan, Ohio
The Culinary Vegetable Institute (CVI) CVI and its parent company, The Chef’s Garden, are nationally known culinary treasures. The Chef’s Garden grows exceptional hand-harvested, sustainable produce for chefs across the country. CVI was founded in 2003 and is an 11,000-square-foot think tank, playground and retreat center for chefs. Members of the founding advisory board included Daniel Boulud, Alain Ducasse, Charlie Trotter, Thomas Keller and Lidia Bastianich (see page 32 for the full story). Although CVI’s primary audience is working chefs, the organization also seeks to engage the public through cooking classes, culinary showcase events and workshops for culinary enthusiasts. “We wanted to build a place where chefs could come and do R&D, R&R and educate people. But it is now so much more than that,” owner-farmer Lee Jones notes. Lee operates both ventures with his father and brother. A visit to CVI may include a sighting of Farmer Jones in his trademark bib overalls and red bowtie. “We do classes here. We do every kind of event that you can imagine. We customize events to one’s needs all of the time. We want visitors to get so much more than they ever imagined out of their experiences,” he says.
Events slated for 2016 include vegetable showcase dinners, earth-to-table dinners, professional workshops and a monthly cooking class series with themes such as bread baking, fermentation and seasonal vegetable cookery. Custom events include: weddings; private parties; luxury farm stays; a cheffor-the-day program, where you can cook in the kitchen with Executive Chef Jamie Simpson; private cooking classes; and space for team-building retreats and corporate meetings, conferences and seminars. CVI is located at 12304 Mudbrook Rd., Milan. Visit culinaryvegetableinstitute.com to see a full schedule of public offerings and plan your trip.
Quarry Hill Orchards and Winery Outside of the village of Berlin Heights is Quarry Hill Orchards, a picturesque family farm started in 1931. The elevated land in this part of the county offers optimal growing conditions for produce, including increased protection from spring frosts. At the highest point on the orchard land sits Quarry Hill Winery, where on a clear day visitors can see Lake Erie in the distance, three miles away. The orchard grows 38 varieties of apples on 90 acres of land. The remainder of the farm is composed of 30 acres of peaches and 15 acres of grapes, nectarines, pears, plums, apricots and berries.
Quarry Hill Orchards and Winery in Berlin, Ohio
In addition to selling at various farmers markets in the region and in wholesale to local businesses and schools, the orchard offers a fantastic onsite market where Quarry Hill produce is sold alongside vegetables from nearby farms and artisan foods from regional vendors. A visit during the growing season will yield outstanding seasonal finds in addition to delicious complimentary popcorn and, if you’re lucky, a smile and a wonderful chat with Bill Gammie, Quarry Hill’s fearless leader of 36 years. Don’t forget to pet London and Walter, the two friendly golden retrievers who call the farm home and who can often be found pilfering peaches from customers’ baskets, on your way out of the orchard market.
note, during the growing season the restaurant acquires much of its produce from nearby farms. “I source my lettuces, seasonal vegetables and microgreens from The Chef’s Garden. Fruits such as apples, pears, peaches and grapes are from Quarry Hill Orchards, Grobe Fruit Farm in Elyria and I get seasonal berries from Krieg’s farm market in Vermilion,” says John D’Amico, the restaurant’s Executive Chef and co-owner. For the budget-friendly visitor there are several other dining options on the premises, including a seasonal, unfussy alfresco riverfront café, as well as a casual, yet sophisticated, wine/martini room on the second floor of the building, called Touché.
Quarry Hill Orchards is located at 8403 Mason Rd., Berlin Heights. Additional information, including a harvest calendar, can be found at quarryhillorchards.com and quarryhillwinery.org.
Chez François Restaurant Since 1987, a Francophile’s mecca—Chez François Restaurant—has called the town of Vermillion home. This upscale bistro has consistently been rated by Zagat as one of the best restaurants in Ohio, drawing diners from near and far. Chez François was named a James Beard Foundation semi-finalist in the “Outstanding Service” category in 2013.
Chez François also offers a number of culinary events, including themed seasonal feasts, such as a truffle dinner and wine-pairing showcases. The restaurant is located at 555 Main St., Vermillion. Visit chezfrancois.com to view the eatery’s menu and upcoming events.
Nicole Rasul loves all things food. Food history, food culture and profiles of our region’s brave producers especially strike her fancy. She lives in Clintonville with her husband and daughter where they enjoy the farmers market and their
With a dress code for diners, including jackets for men, the establishment offers a menu that changes seasonally and which is full of French classics. Of
Additional growers of note in the region that are a pleasure to visit include: A.B. Phillips and Sons Fruit Farm: 30 Main St., Berlin Heights. With an orchard that is more than 700 feet above sea level, the farm is known for its colorful and crisp apples that the growers attribute to their higher than normal elevation. Burnham Orchards: 8019 State Route 113, Berlin Heights. With a market that is open year-round, the orchard offers a variety of produce and other local foods. During the growing season visitors may pick their own peaches, blackberries, cherries and apples. Mulberry Creek Herb Farm: 3312 Bogart Rd., Huron. Offering more than 900 varieties of organic potted herb plants, vegetables and miniature plants, the farm is open to visitors five days a week. In June, the farm offers an annual herb fair with merchants, workshops and a plant sale. Visit ediblecolumbus.com for more places and tips from Nicole about visiting Erie County this spring.
A Philosophy of Vegetables
The synergy and creativity between Chef Jamie Simpson and The Chefâ€™s Garden at The Culinary Vegetable Institute By Colleen Leonardi Photography by Michelle Demuth-Bibb
tepping into The Culinary Vegetable Institute (CVI) at The Chef’s Garden in Milan, Ohio, is like entering a sanctuary (page 29). Tucked into the woods, the high, vaulted ceiling and walls made of wild cherry, black walnut, tulip poplar, oak and ash envelop you. The world-class kitchen where executive chef and chef liaison Jamie Simpson spends his days welcomes you like a Mother’s hearth—the aroma of pots full of vegetables cooking on the stove and Mozart playing in the background. After driving two hours from Columbus through rural Ohio, I feel both at home and transported to a most magical place.
tionship with the Earth. Over the years, an advisory board of luminary chefs like Daniel Boulud, Alain Ducasse, Charlie Trotter, Thomas Keller and Lidia Bastianich have collaborated with Chef’s Garden to build CVI to what it is today. There have been a handful of chefs who have stood at the helm of CVI, acting as the leader in the kitchen, advancing flavor, technique and craft for events, cooking classes, corporate meetings and experiments with visiting expert chefs from around the world. Yet in the past two years the young chef Jamie has come to the stage as the next evolution of this synergy between chef and farmer at CVI. He is the first to fulfill the role of executive chef and chef liaison to the farm. And he brings with him a je ne sais quoi.
Birth of a Vegetable Institute Like the philosophers of the past, Bob Jones Sr. and his two sons, Lee and Bob Jr., and their iconic farm, The Chef’s Garden, have insights into the Earth, transforming a world of vegetables, flowers and herbs into an extraordinary product and experience. A long-standing cultural institution with a history of growing beautiful vegetables “slowly and gently in full accord with nature,” The Chef’s Garden is guided by the relationship between the chef and the farmer. What chefs want, the farmers at The Chef’s Garden will grow. What the farmers at The Chef’s Garden grow, chefs really, really want. This symbiotic relationship has supported some of the most famous chefs over the past 30 years. It’s no mystery how or why what is grown at The Chef’s Garden is as sought after as it is and expedited all over the world. The farmers love the Earth. The Earth loves the farmers. The result of this amour is a heritage and a legacy steering the consciousness of the culinary world towards its next evolution. Fourteen years ago the farmers at The Chef’s Garden wanted to create a relaxing, intimate environment for chefs to stay and experiment with what the farm was growing each year. They envisioned a space where “chefs could get back to what they love with this bountiful playground of the most exotic, sexy, healthy and chemical-free vegetables they could imagine,” says Lee. Thus the birth of CVI. Today CVI is a laboratory and performance space for both chef and guest alike. If you love farmers and the good food they grow, you must taste what is most revered and subtle about The Chef’s Garden and its history by visiting CVI. You can attend a specially themed dinner or cooking class, host a private event and so much more at CVI year round (see sidebar on page 34 and our story on page 28 to plan your visit). “The thing that brings chefs to this world is the creativity,” says Lee. “The better the chefs are, the less they get to do what they love. I talk to chefs that don’t even get to cook anymore. They have to be managers. They have to be marketers. They have to have a leg in HR. They have to be motivators and leaders. They don’t get to cook.” Farmer Lee, director Marcie Barker and the team at CVI effectively hold the door open for the chefs to come home and cook, reinvigorating their rela-
Opposite: Executive chef and chef liaison to The Chef’s Garden Jamie Simpson in the yellow blooms during a farm breakfast for a team building experience last summer. He is harvesting mustard blooms from the field for the dish.
Renaissance Man “I look at every moment in life as an opportunity to create something compelling,” says Jamie. Intelligent, playful, creative and generous in heart and thought, his food is visually stunning, sometimes whimsical, deft and delicious. Originally from Charleston, South Carolina, Jamie has artist blood in him, having studied the visual arts and played in a rock and roll band before turning to a culinary life. After climbing the restaurant ranks, he landed at the Charleston Grill and worked under Chef Michelle Weaver for almost half a decade. During that time and after his stint at Charleston Grill he staged at restaurants around the world. It was among the Michelin Star kitchens where he saw boxes shipped from Huron, Ohio in their walk-in refrigerators that he discovered the true reach of The Chef’s Gardens’ vegetables. With vegetables having a renaissance in this country, CVI has found its renaissance man in Jamie. Thought leaders like Michael Pollan declare: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants,” heralding the demand for organic and locally grown produce. People want food that is vital, colorful and nourishing. The word “vegetable” comes from the Latin vegetabilis meaning “to be enlivening, quickening,” and spending time in the kitchen with Jamie, or savoring one of his dishes, will feel like exactly that—something in you will come alive.
A Walk in The Garden The warmth of one of The Chef’s Garden’s colossal greenhouses embraces Jamie and me. We stand underneath a long tunnel of rising fava bean plants, their little white and violet-colored flowers popping off the vines. “Can I eat those?” I ask, pointing to the flowers. “Yes,” says Jamie, and I do and I am most happy I did. The flower is peppery and earthy and makes me feel the same. Walking through muddy fields and gardens with Jamie, he hands me one gorgeous plant after another—deep green Ice Spinach, delicate cilantro flowers, fragrant begonia petals—stalk, leaf, stem, seed. To touch, hold, smell and eat these plants is transformative. They’re plump and full of light from the moon, sun and stars and minerals from the Earth. Their colors radiate with life force. Jamie is at home among this Eden. He walks the gardens every morning, savoring the flavor and fragrance of what is growing, talking with the farmers and getting inspired for the next dish at CVI.
“I look at every moment in life as an opportunity to create something compelling,” says Jamie.
His boyhood relationship with vegetables was defined by a “standard suburban childhood” of canned and fast foods, acknowledging his mother did the best she could with what she had. “The food was nowhere near as important as the simple act of gathering and talking,” he says. Nature was his constant, and now informs his aesthetic and approach to cooking.
Plan Your Visit The Culinary Vegetable Institute (CVI) offers a range of events for you to enjoy from vegetable showcase dinners and earth-to-table dinners to professional workshops and monthly cooking classes. Private events include weddings, private parties, luxury farm stays, private cooking
“Before I ever came here, I spent my free time in the woods. From building forts as a child to harvesting and selling mushrooms as an adult, nature has been with me my entire life,” he says. “Nature is my sanctuary. I take it very seriously.”
ences. See our story on page 28 to plan your trip, and visit culinaryveg-
Jamie reveals classic writers like Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau, and the contemporary visual artist Andy Goldsworthy, as his inspiration. “Goldsworthy, for me, is the most original and inspiring living artist. His collaboration with nature is without a doubt genius. The concepts are so simple yet daunting. His work requires many, many hours of patience and an understanding of nature and how it responds to organization. He brings a new kind of life to something that already exists.”
Jamie is also strategizing ways to eliminate food waste on the farm. “It is no secret that the food system in America is incredibly wasteful. Every stage of production and distribution in this country, from a field to your garbage can, results in approximately 40% total waste. That means if America grows 10 pounds of carrots, only six pounds will ever be consumed and four pounds will be thrown away. I find this troubling.”
It’s this artistic view of nature and food that keeps Jamie hunting for the next dish, the next flavor at The Chef’s Garden. Back in the kitchen at CVI, Dario Torres and Mariel Carrasco Garay are cooking. Jamie’s team and “the two most important people not only in my work but in my life,” Dario and Mariel are from Puerto Rico and exude tremendous skill and a quiet joy. Jamie leads them like they’re family. They’re preparing for a four-course dinner for 10-plus guests that night, as well as two big dinners over the weekend. Most of what Jamie uses in the kitchen comes from The Chef’s Garden. He also sources locally from farms like Speckled Hen Farm and Snowville Creamery. That night when I sit down for a meal made by Jamie, it’s not the hearty third course or the sweetly crafted carrot dessert that wins me. It’s the second course—a walk in the garden—featuring a base of creamy carrot purée supporting slivers of tiny vegetables packed with zest from the farm like baby turnip, radish, pea and microgreen. It’s the simplicity and fullness of the plate. Jamie’s walk through Eden evidenced in one moment, one taste.
classes, team building retreats and corporate meetings and conferetableinstitute.com for a full listing of their events for 2016.
Questions about nutritional values in commodity crops and health, local preservation, the use of local resources and the “steady increase of hybridized heirloom varieties” are on Jamie’s mind, too. Yet the complexity and challenge of all that is coming our way light him up, and his ability to be present in the moment suggests an enlightened perspective. He’s a maverick, he’s an innovator and yet he makes you feel comfortable in one of the world’s most revered kitchens. The philosophy that he and the Joneses embody is down-to-earth. It’s an ethos grounded in the Earth and its vegetables. It’s rooted in what is most beautiful, pure and true about being human and eating together, and how when beauty is the goal, culture is the result. It’s an understanding of the human spirit and its bond with nature. I do hope you visit CVI someday. You, like the vegetables, will be made brighter because of it. The Culinary Vegetable Institute; 12304 Mudbrook Rd., Milan, Ohio, 44846; Phone: 419-499-7500; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; culinaryvegetableinstitute.com
Jamie makes eating your vegetables fun again.
Questions of Sustainability Jamie sees the future of food in—yes—vegetables. “Not just carrot roots and sweet potatoes but the whole plant’s top and all. Every part of most plants is edible and more often than not, equally delicious to the part that we see in grocery stores today. This is real whole food.” Lee agrees. “With vegetables and plants and herbs there are thousands yet to be explored, and this is the direction we need to go—we need to be more of a plant-driven diet and consumption in the United States.”
Colleen Leonardi is a writer and editor of Edible
Columbus. She can also be
found online at colleenleonardi.com.
Opposite. top: Rack of Rabbit. Pea Cracker. Beurre Fondue. Split Peas. Micro Gold Pea Tendril. Micro Green Pea Tendril. Snow Pea. Pea Bloom. By Chef Jamie Simpson. Bottom: An earth-to-table dinner at The Culinary Vegetable Institute
Seed Sovereignty A regional seed company takes root in Athens to preserve southern Ohio’s seed heritage By Julia Flint • Photography by Sarah Warda
“We talk about food all the time,”
The Southeast Ohio Seed Savers
says Mary Nally, executive director of Community Food Initiatives (CFI) in Athens, Ohio. “But we never talk [about] its actual, true origin—its seed.” At least, she says, we aren’t talking about it enough.
By February 2015, you could do exactly that. Thanks to two dedicated and enthusiastic seed savers and to current seed company developer, Jessica Chadwell, a pilot program for CFI’s first venture into social enterprise was born: the development of a micro-regional seed company. Working within their existing network of seed savers, CFI collected, packaged and sold 21 varieties of locally saved, open-pollinated vegetables, herbs and flowers at retail locations in Athens last year. Seeds were packaged in simple white packets with the name of the seed variety in bold black letters and a black and white logo with the company’s original name: Southeast Ohio Seed Savers (SOSS).
Why Save Seeds Loss of species biodiversity commonly conjures images of the destruction of tropical forests. However, agricultural diversity—our food supply—has seen a tremendous decline in the past century as well. Research from 1983 shows a loss of more than 90% of crop varieties grown in the United States in just 80 years. Shifts toward specialization, hybridization and genetic modification have each contributed to an overall standardization of our food economy. The result is a slow extinction of open-pollinated and heirloom plant varieties, and a decrease in the genetic diversity of our crops. Yet it’s diversity that creates resiliency both in ecosystems and in food systems, which is why saving heirloom and open-pollinated seeds has become a high priority task for CFI. For more than 20 years CFI has worked to enhance the local food network of Southeast Ohio. Its mission is “to support a local food movement that expands fair access and nutritious foods for all people in our region.” While focused on overall food sovereignty, CFI also has a history of working on seed sovereignty—the right of an individual to save and use open-pollinated varieties of seeds. Over the years the organization has developed and maintained a network of local seed savers from Athens and surrounding counties. A seed inventory listing the region’s open-pollinated varieties is published annually with information on how to contact growers to obtain seeds. CFI also hosts annual Seed Exchange events in Athens, where seed savers and the general public can come together to sell, swap or buy seed varieties. Though these events have been a great resource for the community, Mary says the downside is that they only happen once or twice a year. “Wouldn’t it be easier,” she remembers thinking, “If you could go to the local gardening store and find seed packets of locally saved, open-pollinated, heirloom variety seeds that have Appalachian stories and history built into them?”
Now in its second year, Mary says, the company is adapting its focus. Although originally conceived as a micro-regional enterprise encompassing Southeast Ohio, the success of the first year and the importance of the task at hand has broadened the group’s perspective. Moving forward the company plans to expand to include seed varieties grown throughout central Appalachia. A new name for the company to reflect this growth is also forthcoming, and will be a focus of marketing efforts in the months ahead. “We see 2016 as pilot year number two,” says Mary, who emphasizes that fast growth is not a part of their business plan. Instead, amidst all the work that goes into running a community non-profit, they are growing the seed company one day at a time, relying on feedback from the larger community as they move ahead. Looking forward, the company’s more immediate goals include working with new growers, increasing the seed supply and developing a greenhouse system for saving the trickier biennial seed varieties.
Everything Starts with Seeds For Kira Slepchenko, one of the enthusiastic seed savers who encouraged the development of the seed company, access to seeds that are adapted to the local climate and soils is necessary in order to have a robust and reliable food system. The process of naturalization, of growing and saving the same seed varieties year after year, allows crops to adapt to the region’s soil, weather conditions and to the pests and diseases established in the area. Naturalized, open-pollinated varieties thus require fewer pesticides, and the more varieties of naturalized seeds, the more diverse and resilient the overall system. “Having seeds is the base of food security,” Kira tells me. “Everything starts with seeds.” In addition to strengthening and diversifying the region’s food supply, there are other motivations for saving and selling regional seed varieties. In-
Cilantro Cleome Cherry Hot Pepper
French Marigold Mayocoba Bean
Dill Echinacea Purpurea
Cockscomb edible COLUMBUS.com
creasing the economic incentives available within the local food economy is an important priority. Seed saving, explains Mary, can provide an opportunity for individuals throughout the region to diversify their income. Acknowledging seed savers as the experts, the company plans to function as a kind of cooperative network so that those saving seeds can determine what varieties to sell and what prices growers are paid for their harvest.
2016 Southeast Ohio Seed Saver Varieties Greens
Preserving local seed varieties also is about preserving local heritage. Born and raised in Meigs County, Ohio, Mary says she, like many, has struggled at times to develop a positive sense of identity and place in a region stigmatized by chronic generational poverty and high food insecurity. Yet she also recognizes reasons to be positive. “We have so many people in this area who have been growing food for generations and whose food ways and skills have not yet been lost,” she says. Through saving seeds, Mary hopes she can help individuals in central Appalachia hold onto those skills and traditions, and foster a sense of pride in the region’s heritage.
Bloomsdale Long Standing Spinach Orange Cosmos Bok Choy
Jack Rugged kale
yellow Globe Onions
Molted Acorn Squash
Lemon Drop Marigold
Lemon Drop Pepper
Bull Horn Pepper To learn more about Community Food Initiatives visit communityfoodinitiatives.org.
Julia Flint lives, eats, writes and gardens in Athens, Ohio, where she is in a master’s program in Latin American Studies. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Understanding Seeds Open-pollinated refers to seeds that are pollinated by natural means, such as wind, insects or sometimes hand-pollinating by the grower. Open-pollinated seeds, if not cross-pollinated, will produce plants that resemble the parents and seeds that are genetically stable. Seeds can be saved and replanted the following year, adapting to local growing conditions over time. Cross-pollination refers to the sharing of pollen among different varieties of the same species, resulting in seeds that aren’t genetically pure. Cross-pollination can be avoided in open-pollinated varieties by planting one variety at a time, or ensuring enough physical distance exists between varieties to avoid crossing. Hybrid seeds are the result of controlled breeding by human intervention, a crossing of two genetic lines chosen to produce an offspring with certain desired traits. The resulting plant is not genetically stable, and the seeds won’t reliably produce plants similar to the parents. Hybrid seeds need to be purchased each year to produce a similar crop. Heirloom refers to open-pollinated seed varieties that are passed down generationally, often outside of the commercial plant trade (though heirloom varieties have recently grown in commercial popularity). Heirloom varieties are sometimes designated by age (at least 50 years) and commonly have local or familial histories and significance. All heirloom varieties are open-pollinated, but not all open-pollinated seeds are heirloom varieties. Right: Community Food Initiatives staff member, Dandelion Duff
Roma Pole Bean
Cilantro Sweet Italian Basil
Flower Fidelity Ohio’s pollinators and what to grow for them in your garden By Charlie Allen Photography by Jim McCormac
id you know some scientists estimate that one out of every three bites of food we eat exists because of animal pollinators like bees, butterflies and moths, birds and bats and beetles? It is a great fact and opens our eyes. Yes, we need, rely on and take for granted the productivity that these variously sized workers do for our food supply. Pollinating plants for our consumption, however, is only one small role these pollinators play in the prairie ecosystem.
Let us draw a picture that focuses on several different pollinator species—moths, beetles and bees. Moths may not be the showiest pollinator that first comes to mind but they are actually, as a family, one of the most efficient pollinators around, just behind native bees. The Dogbane tiger moth (Cycnia tenera) is a daytime flyer that obtains nectar as a food source from a variety of blooming plants, hence the pollination. The 40
moth lays her eggs on the underside of their host plants’ leaves—dogbane and milkweed—for the growing caterpillars to feed on. Moths then are a key contributor to the survival of native plants in prairies and their caterpillars act as a food source for other species. Moths lay an abundance of eggs in the hopes that some of their offspring survive. Many birds, like songbirds, rely heavily on insects as a food source through all or part of the growing season. Caterpillars provide an excellent source of fat and protein for growing young birds and adults alike. Because the Dogbane tiger moth is a daytime flyer, it pollinates a diversity of native plants, often seen during hikes. Other moth species like the Primrose moth are nocturnal and pollinate flowers that open after dusk, like its namesake, the Evening Primrose.
Moths are cool, but bees are the true muscle when it comes to pollination and affecting the creation of diverse habitats. Many native bees nest below the surface in burrows. Miner bees, for example, excavate long tunnels slightly wider than their own bodies to create protection for themselves and their broods. Their tunnels aerate the soil, encouraging the influx of nutrients and water. This in turn helps create quality soil structure for native plants to grow. Bees are a well-adapted species that have evolved to work within the ecosystem, increasing both their own survival and the survival of the species that they depend on. Well-aerated soils allow for a diverse array of native plant species to thrive, which then creates food sources for the bees. Bees rely on flowers for food to feed their young, so they actively seek out and visit flowers. Bees will
Above: A prairie pollinator garden at DNR headquarters in Columbus
visit one or a few flowering species during each foraging trip. This foraging technique is another adaption focused on helping the productivity of the ecosystem called flower fidelity. The foraging technique ensures pollen from similar species is being transferred within species. Bees are very efficient pollinators! Beetles are another pollinator found in the prairie ecosystem that do not pollinate on purpose. Pest control is their biggest contribution. For example, the ladybird beetle (Coccinellidae) or the common ladybug, finds its food source, aphids, on native plants as well as agriculture plants. Aphids suck the juices from plant stems and fruits. While ladybird beetles are feasting on aphids they are inadvertently pollinating and protecting the plantâ€™s survival. Due to development, Ohio has lost more than 90% of its prairies. Pollinator species may have experienced most of this habitat loss, but many other species are dependent on pollinators and the habitat they create. The diverse roles pollinators play create many different habitats for many species of plants and wildlife to thrive. Songbirds, such as field sparrows and eastern
bluebirds as well as turkey and bobwhite quail, can be seen nesting and foraging in pollinator habitat. Small mammals also appreciate the cover provided, their movements completely hidden from aerial predators such as red-tailed hawks and American kestrels. Because of habitat loss and the productivity prairie ecosystems create for diverse wildlife, The Ohio Pollinator Habitat Initiative (OPHI) is working behind the scenes to create diverse, productive pollinator habitats across Ohio. OPHI is a statewide network of diverse partners that work together to provide education, outreach, handson conservation/native seed collections and technical assistance to all who have an interest in pollinators and protecting our food supply. You can help pollinators by considering their diversity and their diverse needs. This includes planting trees, shrubs, native flowers and native grasses (see sidebar). Creating a diverse landscape allows for pollinators to find multiple resources they need without expending a great amount of energy traveling Ohioâ€™s landscape. Pollinators like the monarch butterfly need as much energy
as possible to complete their great migration to Mexico in the fall. Pollinator areas can be active during the entire growing season. Choose plant varieties that have overlapping blooming periods throughout early spring to late fall. Pesticides should be applied as minimally as possible. OPHI is working with a wide range of people: farmers with the Conservation Reserve Program, members of the public with gardens, businesses like AEP under transmission lines and ODOT to create pollinator habitat along selected roadsides. Contact us at the OPHI and weâ€™d be glad to have you help. Visit ophi.info.
Charlie Allen works for the u.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as a wildlife biologist. He provides technical and professional guidance in accordance with Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act. He also provides hands-on expertise in the field regarding fish, river/stream habitats, plants, pollinators and prairie restoration projects.
What to Plant for the Pollinators For a basic pollinator plot, there are four main points to consider when picking which species to plant to create a pollinator garden; blooming periods, host plants, soil health and the overall diversity. Below is an example of a few species people can plant in their gardens and backyards. Spring blooming species include golden alexanders, Ohio spiderwort and Western yarrow; provide a diversity of colors, gold, blue and white respectively. Summer blooming species include blackeyed susan, common milkweed, Oxeye sunflower, wild bergamot and partridge pea. These species provide a diversity of colors and flower shape, while common milkweed acts as our host species and partridge pea as a native legume to help replenish the soils. Fall blooming species include smooth blue aster, rough blazing star and stiff goldenrod. We also need grass species to provide habitat and help with soil health; prairie dropseed, and little bluestem, are two species that do just this.
Dogbane tiger moth nectaring on dogbane flowers
A Wild Spring One cook’s hunt for morels, ramps and more By Nadine Cox Illustrations by Frances Cannon
he snap of a twig, the rustle of the dead leaves beneath my boots, break the silence as I move slowly down the hill’s slope, using small saplings to help keep my balance. The anemic breeze still carries the bite of winter, but the golden warmth of the spring sun streaks through the leafless canopy, making up the difference.
Searching through the understory debris, in the shade of a large tree, I see it—a three-inch brown, honey-combed, conical looking sponge pushing up through the soil—the most beloved of all wild mushrooms, the morel. I yell, “Mushroom!!” as loud as I can and my companions come running, because we all know where there is one, there will be more. The hunt begins. Though we spent that afternoon in Fallsburg, Ohio, an hour out of the city in Licking County, morels can be found from early April into May, just after the second deep spring rain, right about the same time the Eastern Redbud trees start to produce their blooms. And while organic groceries, farmers markets and home gardens are all great sources for dinner ingredients, one of the best food adventures you can have is bringing a bit of wild nature back to your own kitchen.
Though you can find ingredients to use any season, spring is the best time to find the most tender and succulent ingredients. Wild plants tend to either fade quickly or harden as the weeks move on into summer and autumn. For example, a red-veined sorrel is citrusy and tender in early spring, ready to brighten any dish, but becomes unpalatable, more bitter and tough as temperatures rise in early summer. The same is true for wild asparagus. If you do not cut them as newly sprouting shoots, you will soon lose them to the more mature fern-like shrub form that is nice to look at, but is not edible. You will be surprised by what is available for you to find very close to your own home. We live in a wooded area north of Westerville and within my own yard, I have used fern fiddleheads, oyster mushrooms, dandelion greens, wild onion and garlic, red-veined sorrel, wild grape, wood violet, wild mint, wild black raspberry, sassafras, wild rose hip and black walnut in dishes I have prepared. Our beloved morel mushroom is sold in stores at $40 per pound when in season. A mile down the road from my home I can pick mulberries in early June. I have never found mulberries in any market here, perhaps because of their short shelf life, yet they are plump and uniquely and sweetly
delicious, rivaling any berry commercially grown. They would be delicious in a galette or served in their own juices with a spiced sabayon. The ramp, a wild garlic, has landed on many a bib gourmand restaurant menu in recent years. Foraging for wild edible foods is truly like culinary treasure hunting. As a child, I remember my mother sending me out into our backyard to collect dandelion greens. At the time, I thought she was joking. Who eats weeds for dinner? Now we see them commercially grown and in almost all of our local groceries. But even at age 9, I knew what a dandelion looked like—find the flower, find the leaves, simple. Now foraging for wild ingredients can be intimidating and learning some basic plant identification is recommended. There are many resources available to get you started and the rewards are worth the effort. You already likely have some basic foraging knowledge. More adventurous foraging, like wild mushroom hunting, carries slightly more risk than dandelion identification. That’s where good solid resources come in, like The Ohio Mushroom Society at ohiomushroom.org, or go
with an experienced hunter. Another one of my favorite resources is the book, Edible Wild Plants—A North American Field Guide to Over 200 Natural Foods by Elias & Dykeman. This field guide is well organized by season and easy to use with color plates for each plant. It covers appropriate harvest times, habitat, differentiation regarding toxic look-a-likes and even preparation tips, keeping the novice out of trouble. Start Mushrooming—The Easiest Way to Start Collecting 6 Edible Mushrooms by Tekiela & Shanberg is another one I like. As a rule of thumb, I do try to avoid plants that have an increased risk of health consequences. For example, ground cherry might be great for a fruit pie, but should only be harvested when the fruit is absolutely ripe; otherwise, it can cause some gastrointestinal toxicity. That’s a grey area that I try to avoid. Learn to find a few wild ingredients that you are comfortable identifying, know when to search for them and how to safely prepare them, and then enjoy these gifts from nature.
them the focus (they taste good with other things). Don’t be intimidated when your best friend refers to your treasured ingredients as “lawn clippings.” Respect the wild ingredient for what it offers to your dish. You will find sweet, fruity, peppery, bitter, nutty and citrus notes in many of these natural foods, which makes them quite versatile. For me, springtime represents freshness and simplicity and that is how I like to use the wild spring ingredients I find. My recipes at ediblecolumbus.com can be made for a springtime brunch that will really reconnect you and your brunch guests back to nature. Good hunting! Visit ediblecolumbus.com for Nadine’s recipe for Foraged Spring Salad and Morel Rarebit and more tips for beginning foragers.
Nadine Cox was born in northeast Ohio in the heart of Ohio’s wine making country. She has been prac-
When you get back to your kitchen, try to use your new foraged ingredients in your cooking as you would anything you may get from the markets. You don’t have to hide them in a dish (they taste good) or figure out how to make
ticing Family Medicine in Gahanna for 15 years. Coming from a farming community, being well travelled and being an adventurous food enthusiast makes her very passionate about more than just eating a good meal.
from the good earth
Dig In Foraged & Sown celebrates local flavors from the backyard to the forest By Claire Hoppens • Photography by Maria khoroshilova
ate Hodges forages for flavor. And for fun. And, of course, for food. But it’s the quest for flavor that’s the real driving force behind her business, Foraged & Sown, which launched just over a year ago.
Kate calls herself a forager and market gardener. She tends to a modest plot of land in her North Linden backyard, supplemented by bits of land that neighbors let her cultivate, hosting berries and rhubarb. Beyond that, she scours acres of private property owned by friends outside Columbus city limits, foraging for seasonal plants, herbs and berries on land she calls “a culinary dream of woods.” All told, Kate combs a multitude of sources for fresh ingredients—some intentionally planted, others more chance—but all in tune with the seasons and the soil. Combined harvests are processed and packaged for sale at the Clintonville Farmers Market where, come spring, Kate offers culinary herbs, berries, salts, seedlings and more. Foraged & Sown emerged as a way for Kate to legitimize hobbies that come naturally to her—gardening, cooking and foraging. “It’s something that I love to do and something that I would be doing anyway,” Kate says. “I grew up gardening with my parents and my sisters and sometimes we lived in the country so it was a big garden with a lot of space to play around in,” Kate says. “So I grew up doing things like eating a lot of tomatoes right off the vine, picking weeds in the yard and tasting them. The memory is there because of the flavor. So what I can draw back on is always flavor and scent, which is how everybody’s memories are tied.” Foraged & Sown provides a source for unique or highly seasonal ingredients, like ramps, a perennial favorite. “The beginning of market season is ramp season and I could not bring enough ramps,” Kate says. “They’re usually only at market the first three weeks, and that’s pushing it a little bit because ramps actually start before the market even opens.” Ramp season transitions to seedlings, which are popular as market patrons plan their spring gardens. Kate sells berries she grows, like strawberries and currants, and those she forages, like service berries and mulberries. There are nettles, which begin in spring and last throughout summer, and spicebush, of which the leaves and berries can be consumed. Last fall, Kate even
processed her own acorn flour, which she baked into cookies that proved popular at market. Nothing goes to waste within Foraged & Sown. “I dry and reuse the stuff that doesn’t sell at market,” Kate says. “So the spicebush berry—I’m not going to bring it back the following week, so I’ll just dry it and then I put it into salt blends. The spicebush leaves, if they don’t sell, I dry them and package them in tea bags,” she adds. “I try to have very little waste.” She applies the same mentality when foraging, where there’s a delicate balance between what’s abundant and what’s necessary to take. “I think it’s important to not get excited about something that can be foraged a whole bunch and then let it go to waste. Just like you wouldn’t buy 16 heads of broccoli at the grocery store and then let 14 of them spoil. It’s the same thing,” Kate says. Foraging, like gardening, is a skill that can be honed with practice and patience. But it’s an easy journey to begin—as easy as looking closely in your own backyard, says Kate. “I think anything that gets you looking at plant leaves is a good starting point. So looking at the lawn even, in front of your house, if you’ve never looked at it. It’s fun!” she adds. “If you look at it you’ll probably notice in addition to the grass, there’s going to be a ton of other things, too.” Kate recommends foraging around water sources, like creeks, especially on south-facing slopes where plants soak up early sunlight. Better still if in a deciduous forest, which has fertile soil from leaf litter. Be sure to take note of local laws: “It’s not legal to sell commercially things that are foraged from public land,” says Kate. Foraged items from personal property or private land used with permission are okay. Kate takes part in the occasional collaboration or class, and is open to leading groups on foraging lessons. She recommends foraging with kids Opposite, top: Kate Hodges of Foraged & Sown. Kate says, “I am going specifically from the foraged ingredient to a culinary use.” One of Foraged & Sown’s culinary salt blends in process.
since, “it’s active and they’re able to pick up on it really quickly.” Don’t be dissuaded by fears of poisonous plants, either. “There’s a huge misconception about how many poisonous plants there are out there,” Kate says. “It’s not a lot.” “If you have good book guides you’ll be fine. The book will tell you if there’s something that looks like it,” she adds. Every Saturday during market season, on a sunny stretch of sidewalk in Clintonville, Kate reaps another benefit as proprietor of Foraged & Sown: She gets to connect with market patrons, connecting with the flavors. “For me,” she says “foraging and growing is all about seeking different flavors, which is why I really lean toward the culinary herbs and the berries,
A Forager’s Field Guide kate Hodges of Foraged & Sown recommends the following resources for aspiring foragers:
The Peterson Field Guide to Wild Edible Plants Edible Wild Plants by Thomas Elias & Peter Dykeman Everything by Samuel Thayer. “Fantastic and go really into depth, like if you want to look up how to process acorns, it probably has 50 pages on it.” Also provides historical context.
because you can taste five different varieties of raspberries and they all taste different. You can grow three different types of sage and they’re going to be different,” says Kate, who is, incidentally, speaking between sips of a sage-infused latte. While Kate sells almost exclusively at the farmers market, she sources for a few, small wholesale accounts in town like Chef Kevin Caskey of Skillet. “[Kate] has been able to source for us items that are generally not available to us or just traditionally not farmed as a commodity. Even more important, the sourcing is at a hyper-local level from the wild or sometimes even an urban setting. Wild nettles come to mind, dandelion greens, lamb’s quarters; once she was even able to score a huge find of local mulberries! As a chef, I think about each ingredient’s provenance and what it brings to the plate, and I can trust that what Kate brings to us has been passed through a minimal number of hands,” he says. Kate’s pursuit of flavor benefits a community that can learn to taste, and love, what’s available to us—in our backyards, our gardens and our forests. “I really get jazzed when people taste something new just so they have the experience. I don’t care if you like it or you don’t,” she says, smiling. “I think that’s the most important thing—digging into what there is.” Foraged & Sown, firstname.lastname@example.org, foragedandsown.com Visit ediblecolumbus.com for Kate’s recipe for Compound Ramp Butter.
kate says, “I am going specifically from the foraged ingredient to a culinary use, so things that have recipes are important to look at for me and my favorite one is called Foraged
Flavor by Tama Matsuoka Wong.
She collaborated with Chef Eddy Leroux at Daniel. The recipes are fantastic, I mean really good.” (kate actually keeps two copies around she loves it so much.)
Raised in a nomadic and adventurous family, Claire Hoppens called five states home and attended three colleges before earning her degree in magazine journalism from the Scripps School at Ohio university in 2011. Claire is currently a Managing Partner for Northstar Café, one of the many Columbus mainstays to solidify her love of people, food and our vibrant city.
What do Toyota, the Amish and the future of agriculture have in common? you might be surprised.
Leaner, Greener, More Profitable and Productive Doing more with less on America’s small farms By Maya Parson
Clay Bottom Farm (Goshen, Indiana) feeds 200 people on less than one acre of active cultivation.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in Edible Michiana in their winter 2015 issue.
etween barn weddings, farm dinners, artisanal cheeses and heirloom produce, American farm life can seem downright romantic—at least for those of us who aren’t actually farmers.
PHOTO COuRTESy OF CLAy BOTTOM FARM
For those trying to make a living from farming, the reality is often far from idyllic: Agriculture in the U.S. is increasingly controlled by large corporations, which practice industrial farming characterized by decidedly unromantic things like animal confinement and mono-cropping. Despite the popularity of farmers markets and our collective love affair with the idea of farm life, small and mid-size producers—the ones who grow your heirloom beans—”face gigantic hurdles to be successful,” says farmer Ben Hartman. Hartman, owner with his wife, Rachel Hershberger, of Clay Bottom Farm in Goshen, In-
diana, and author of the new best-selling book The Lean Farm: How to Minimize Waste, Increase Efficiency, and Maximize Value and Profits with Less Work, knows only too well the challenges faced by small farmers. Having grown up on a 450-acre corn and soybean farm, Hartman knew he wanted to farm in a different, more sustainable way, but it wasn’t easy.
in Nappanee, Indiana. Hartman knew Brenneman as one of Clay Bottom’s community-supported agriculture (CSA) subscribers and the husband of Edible Michiana founder and publisher Victoria Brenneman. And he knew Brenneman was doing something unusual in American manufacturing: restructuring his plant around a Japanese auto industry model known as “Lean.”
Even after finding and affording good land (an obstacle that stymies many would-be farmers), the couple struggled to make a living. Labor on their five-acre homestead was “backbreaking” and left little time for friends or hobbies, let alone vacations. Finding themselves yet again harvesting crops by flashlight because there simply wasn’t enough time in the day to get things done, Hartman knew they had to find a better way.
Hartman asked to take a tour of the facility.
Simplify, Simplify He turned to an unexpected place for advice: A local trailer manufacturing plant, Aluminum Trailer Company (ATC), run by Steve Brenneman
The Lean model, developed by Toyota production system founder Taiichi Ohno, has two primary goals: eliminating waste, which can take the form of wasted time, materials or energy, and increasing value, by better identifying and prioritizing customers’ wants and needs. At ATC, Brenneman initially made use of Lean strategies, like providing workers with more direct access to tools and supplies, as a way of improving factory floor efficiency, but a crisis— the loss of one of his businesses in the 2008 recession—forced him to re-evaluate his practices. Lean, Brenneman realized, was more than a
Top, left: Ben Hartman and Rachel Hershberger of Clay Bottom Farm (Goshen, Indiana) Bottom, right: Rachel Hershberger and Ben Hartman transformed their small farm—and their lives—with “Lean,” a Japanese auto industry model for reducing waste and maximizing value.
TOP, LEFT: PHOTO By CONRAD ERB; BOTTOM, RIGHT: PHOTO By DAVID JOHNSON; BOTTOM, LEFT: PHOTO By DAVID JOHNSON
Bottom, left: Value, as Hartman defines it, takes into account the quality of life of the farmers, their communities and their ecosystems.
ILLuSTRATION By EMMA GERIGCOTT FROM THE LEAN FARM By BEN HARTMAN (CHELSEA GREEN PuBLISHING, 2015).
toolkit to patch up problem areas in the factory; reducing waste and increasing value at ATC meant fully embracing the Lean philosophy: doing more and doing it better with less, from top to bottom.
Still, Hartman realized that despite his and other small farmers’ intuitive Lean orientation, no one he knew was applying Lean’s insights in the systematic, scientific fashion that Brenneman employed at ATC.
Brenneman describes that overhaul as something akin to a continuous application of the scientific method to his business practices: With Lean, he explains, “you have a hypothesis, you put it out there, you test it and you check the results. You take what you learned and apply it.” Lean, Brenneman stresses, is less an end point than a process, less a business strategy than a companywide culture shift. Thanks to Lean, ATC has
Hartman decided to make Clay Bottom Farm a Lean test case for small-scale farming. Could he and Hershberger farm better—make their work easier, more meaningful and, at the same time, create more value and less waste—using Lean?
seen increased productivity and profits since 2010, resulting in a 50% increase in worker pay.
tools where they are actually used instead of in a central storage area. But before long the couple found themselves reevaluating almost every aspect of life at Clay Bottom with the goal of maximizing their use of “right size” technology—from the weight of their hoes (a lighter, more ergonomic tool makes for lighter work) to the structure of their harvest, packing and cleanup routines.
Old-Fashioned Ideas What he observed at ATC resonated with Hartman. Many of his fellow small farmers in the Midwest, including his Amish and Mennonite neighbors, he realized, were already intuitively practicing something like Lean. In Hartman’s perspective, the goals and strategies of Lean, are, in fact, old-fashioned ideas, rooted in the practical sensibilities of small producers: keeping only what you need, reducing waste and putting waste to better use. As one such farmer, Steve Lecklider, of Lehman’s Orchard in Niles, Michigan, explains in The Lean Farm, “You can say this or that is a Japanese theory, but for farmers like us, we live this stuff every day. We’re the ones who have to deal with the overproduction and all the waste. We learn this stuff by doing it.”
Leaning the Farm Following Brenneman’s lead, Hartman and Hershberger began with simple strategies like storing
At the Goshen Farmers Market, one of their primary sales venues, they “Leaned” their display, grouping vegetables into blocks of color and building tall abundant stacks to attract customers’ attention. Instead of selling items by weight, they packaged produce into baskets or bunches with fixed prices in even dollar amounts, streamlining sales and allowing one worker, instead of two, to efficiently manage the stall. When planning crops, Clay Bottom focused more attentively on what customers actually wanted to buy. They sought out customer feedback and aimed to be more flexible and responsive to consumer demands.
The farm’s Lean experiment paid off. Today, Clay Bottom is more profitable and less wasteful, allowing Hartman and Hershberger’s family to live comfortably doing work they enjoy that is valued by their community. The family works 40 hours or less on the farm most weeks. And, thanks to Lean, they’ve taken some muchneeded vacations: In October of this year, during their CSA season, they took a weeklong vacation while workers on the farm harvested, packed CSA boxes and sold produce at the farmers market—something that would have been unimaginable a few years back.
Thinking Small Lean, Hartman believes, shatters the myth that small, local farms have to be small volume producers, or that large industrial farms are more productive than artisanal farms like Clay Bottom. “Take,” he says, “the farmer across the road who has several hundred acres of corn and soy that he’ll be able to harvest in only few hours. At Clay Bottom, we harvest multiple times throughout the year. In an economy of scale, he seems more efficient, but for most of the year, his land sits idle. For most of the year, our land is fully utilized growing crops our community wants to eat. For most of the year his equipment sits unused. We’re using ours almost daily, all year.”
fense Council, approximately 20% of produce is never even harvested) and pushes corn and soy in the name of profit, ignoring health and environmental consequences. Value, in this system, is reduced to dollars rather than defined holistically—taking into account the quality of life of the farmers, their communities and their ecosystems. Today, Hartman estimates that Clay Bottom produces food for 200 people on less than one acre of active cultivation. The farm produces more food on less than ⅓ the acreage they previously farmed. Lean, Hartman believes, offers a way to put people and their actual needs at the center of food production by combining the “volume of mass production with the focus and flexibility of craft production.” To be profitable and productive, Hartman’s experiment proves, “you don’t have to get bigger and bigger. Lean says you can be very profitable on a small farm.”
Maya Parson is the former editor of Edible Michiana and a current contributing writer and editorial advisor. She can also be found online at CulturedGrub.com.
Big Ag, Hartman argues, is not only resource intensive but is predicated on overproduction. Rather than producing the crops that local communities want and need, large-scale industrial agriculture relies on government subsidies, wastes massive amounts of food (Hartman notes that according to the National Resources De-
The Lean Farm: How to Minimize Waste, Increase Efficiency, and Maximize Value and Profits with Less Work by Ben Hartman (Chelsea Green Publishing, 2015).
The Lean Farm, the #1 best seller in Amazon’s Lean Management category, is available from Amazon, Better World Books and your local bookseller. For more about The Lean Farm, visit Hartman’s Amazon author’s page, ClayBottomFarm.com or ChelseaGreen.com.
The Vegetable Butcher Little Eaterâ€™s Cara Mangini gives veggies a star turn: at her restaurant, at her grocery and in a new cookbook By Nancy Mckibben â€˘ Photography by Maria khoroshilova
roduce inspired. This mantra is the touchstone of Cara Mangini’s modest but thriving vegetable empire, which began with Little Eater, a two-day-a-week pop-up eatery, then morphed into both a restaurant and a grocery at North Market, followed by a new cookbook— all in just four short years. So how did this California girl/New York career woman/vegetable advocate end up in the heart of Ohio? Let me tell you.
Butcher’s Block & Produce Cart Dark-haired, 30-something Cara fairly glows with health, a real-life advertisement for the vegetables she loves to eat. Her destiny as a vegetable butcher may have been written into her genes— both grandfathers and a great-grandfather were butchers and produce peddlers, and “Mangini” translates roughly to “little eater.” Cara’s 93-year-old Italian great-grandmother still cooks Christmas dinner for the extended family, which says it all for Cara where food is concerned. “Meals are where life happens,” she says. Still, her career began not with food, but with a journalism degree from Northwestern University and travel writing for the Chicago Tribune and Condé Nast publishing. Then it detoured to New York City in 2002 for a 10-year stint as an Estée Lauder executive. In her spare time, Cara took classes like recipe writing, food writing and cooking, and traveled to Italy, Turkey and France—countries whose food cultures included delicious ways with vegetables. In 2010, she assumed a secret identity by night: chef-in-training at the National Gourmet Institute. Her new dream was culinary, so in July 2011, she took the “really, really scary” step of leaving her job. For 18 months, she grew, prepped and cooked vegetables in an odyssey that stretched from NYC to Napa Valley, as she mulled over the practicalities of creating a produce-based business.
Serendipity Where to grow her new business? Vegetables and her family were in California. Her apartment and
her business network were in New York. Then in January 2012, she chanced upon a Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams booth at a food show in San Francisco. It was manned by a Jeni’s partner, Tom Bauer. “I had never heard of Jeni until a mentor showed me her ice cream cookbook, which I gave to my family members for Christmas that year,” Cara says. “I didn’t expect to see her booth there.” Tom offered Cara ice cream samples. They talked about business development and exchanged cards. When Tom’s trip home was serendipitously delayed, they convened a business lunch, and Tom suggested that Cara consider moving to Columbus. Six months and several visits to Ohio later, she did. Two weeks later, Little Eater popped up. In June 2015, Cara and Tom married, an event bookended by the opening of Little Eater restaurant in February and Little Eater grocery in July. Love or business acumen? Cara credits “my husband’s support and understanding of the food business and its long hours” and Columbus’s “really incredible community of farmers” to her success here. “I was impressed from the first visit,” she says.
Little Eater Before opening Little Eater, Cara scouted local farmers markets, where she introduced herself to organic farmers, sampled their wares and learned what and how much they could supply. She chose 10 main farmer suppliers, augmented by about 10 others who supply seasonally. Ten more supply maple syrup, honey, grains, cheeses and breads. Today Little Eater flourishes at North Market, where its shiny white tiles cover walls and serving counters for a minimalist décor that showcases the bright colors of the vegetables. “I wanted a modern feel, an aesthetic and environment that welcomes everyone,” Cara says. She cringes at the notion that people eat vegetables only because they are healthy. “I want people to recognize the excitement in vegetable ingredients. There are no labels on it. It’s about everyday eating.” Multiple visits to Little Eater revealed a varied demographic, all eager for those vegetables. According to customer Mary Blazer: “Everything tastes really good and I know it’s good for me,
Opposite: Cara Mangini of Little Eater
Reach Cara or her business at littleeater.com.
and it’s local and I honor that. The food never disappoints.”
Restaurant: email@example.com; 614-6704375. Grocery: firstname.lastname@example.org; 614-947-7483. Book: Release date, April 19, 2016. Can be pre-ordered now.
Seven vegetable salads anchor the menu, flaunting their colors in white ceramic serving dishes. The green salad (mixed greens, carrots, radish, bulgur, chickpeas, cranberries, feta and citrus vinaigrette) and the kale salad (kale, walnuts, spelt berries, cranberries, thyme and lemon) are perennials, with other salads rotating in and out seasonally. The happy diner can combine a scoop or more of salad with a sandwich, a frittata or quiche, a sweet or savory crostini, a cup of soup—or chow down on salads alone. Little Eater also offers buttermilk cheddar biscuits, apple and granola yogurt parfait and cookies.
Little Eater’s trademark shiny white tile and natural wood showcase seasonal produce on a farm table in front, and the counter is designed for cooking demos, dinners and demonstrations of the knife skills that every aspiring vegetable chef needs.
Vegetable Ed Cara worked as a vegetable butcher in Mario Batali’s Eataly for six months, slicing and dicing, but more importantly, educating her customers about vegetables. She adopted the term for her cookbook, which she wrote and researched for three years. At Eataly, she learned that many people are uncomfortable with vegetables. Her goal with The Vegetable Butcher was to “take out the intimidating parts of working with vegetables.”
All is a joy to the eye as well as to the palate.
Little Eater Produce & Provisions Cara Mangini will offer a cooking demo and book signing on June 18 at The Seasoned Farmhouse. See more details at TheSeasonedFarmhouse.com.
Above: Cara Mangini’s Little Eater at North Market
“The book doesn’t assume you already know about vegetables. I learned in years of working with the public that they don’t know.”
The departure of Michael Jones’s The Greener Grocer from North Market left a produce void that Cara felt compelled to fill. “It’s a hard business,” Cara acknowledges. “But I believe so much in the Market as a place to showcase Ohio. And it’s another way to support our farm partners.”
The first 20 pages are devoted to basics: vegetable selection, storage and prep; knife selection, care and use, followed by a dictionary of vegetables from artichoke to zucchini; 250 color photos illustrate each step as Cara demystifies vegetable butchery.
The grocery works with about 20 farms and close to 20 Ohio artisan food producers to highlight local produce and pantry items as well as more far-flung foods that Cara describes as “a mix of basic with artisan.”
But there’s more than chopping and peeling, with each veggie explained in terms of good partners (spices or other foods); selection; storage; varieties; prep; favorite cooking methods; and recipes.
The Vegetable Butcher can rescue the novice who has just purchased a scary new vegetable at the farmers market—or the experienced cook who yearns for a little inspiration for preparing that bunch of carrots.
Butter-Braised Radishes Melt about 1 tablespoon unsalted butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add 1½ pounds small table radishes, halved or quartered (or if equal in size, left whole), or 1½ pounds large radishes, peeled and cut into ¾-inch dice (or wedges), and cook, turning occasionally, until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Whisk together ½ cup water, 2 teaspoons honey and 1 tablespoon red wine
Growing & Growing Little Eater’s growth has been rapid, but Cara Mangini’s mission has just begun. She finds the 450 square feet of Little Eater restaurant a tad “limiting” and would like to expand her dining concept to a full restaurant when the right location presents itself.
or apple cider vinegar; add this to the skillet. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, and simmer until the radishes are tender and glazed, 5 to 10 minutes more. Serves 4. Recipe reprinted courtesy of Workman Publishing from Cara Mangini’s new cookbook The Vegetable
Butcher, April 2016
“Then we can support more farmers and the health of the community and the environment. Those are really great benefits, but enjoying the food comes first.” What about a Little Eater cookbook? The Vegetable Butcher contains a “handful” of the restaurant’s recipes, but they deserve a cookbook all their own. “I’d love to someday do that,” Cara says.
Nancy McKibben is happy to combine her loves of eating and writing with the opportunity to advocate for sustainable agriculture in the pages of Edible
Columbus. Her latest project is Kitschy Cat Alphabet, a rhyming alphabet book in postcards. She is also a novelist, poet and lyricist, the mother of six and the wife of one. View her work at
Cara Mangini’s Braised Radishes from her new cookbook The Vegetable Butcher
nancymckibben.com; contact her at email@example.com.
Home Plate What it takes for Columbus restaurants to bring true farm-to-table ingredients to you By Nicole Rasul • Photography by Maria khoroshilova
On a recent evening dining out, Bryn Bird, whose family owns Bird’s Haven Farms in Granville, noticed her family’s farm listed as a supplier in beautifully crafted cursive writing on a chalkboard hanging prominently in the restaurant. “I thought, ‘that’s funny, we haven’t sold anything to them in nearly a year’,” says Bryn. “Local”‘ is a word that you can find splashed on menus across town. Consumers and those in the food industry happily welcome the movement for fresh foods that grow regional economies. Yet as Bryn can attest, the buzzword has also met exploitation in the name of marketing. And while farms face increased public transparency to disclose their growing methods, restaurants often face zero accountability in their farm-to-table advertising.
At Acre: a BBQ Pork Sandwich with Lucky Cat Bakery focaccia and pork from New Creations Farm and corn chips from Shagbark Seed and Mill; an Early Winter Salad with braising mix greens from Clarfield Farm, apples from Cherry Orchards and butternut squash from Yoder Family Farm; and Black Bean Hummus with Shagbark Seed and Mill black beans and corn chips.
Commitment to a Core Philosophy
needs. The simpler scenario is purchasing from a distributor who generally sources from large-scale producers across the country.
“We don’t really know any other way to run our business,” says Todd Mills, owner of Acre Restaurant, which opened in 2014 and is located in the Old North neighborhood of Columbus.
“Instead of maintaining one or two relationships you are maintaining 20. It’s just a different approach,” Paul says. “It takes a willingness and a personal interest in doing this well. It takes effort and it requires a lot more organization. However, the product is so much better and you are investing back into the local economy.”
“From the beginning, the point of opening this restaurant was to help build the local food economy and provide an outlet for locally-grown products.” Todd and his chef, Paul Millman, estimate that during the peak of the growing season most of their products are sourced from area producers. In the off-season, staples like tortillas, bread, beans, dairy, storage crops and hoop-house-grown vegetables still come from Ohio growers. Acre prioritizes buying directly from local farms. If the restaurant cannot source a certain food or enough of an item from their roster of farm suppliers, then they will purchase through a local farm cooperative, such as Great River Organics or Yellowbird Foodshed. For remaining purchasing needs they will use a distributor. “For the majority of our food, we choose to use local farmers and, though it’s more work than using a distributor, it is well worth it,” notes Paul. The work means devoting time each week to communicating with a multitude of producers regarding matching farm inventory with a restaurant’s
Though Todd, Paul and general manager Colleen Yuhn each had established connections with area producers before Acre, they note that the key to their success has been fostering those relationships and continually expanding their network of suppliers. “Go to your local farmers market—there is one almost every day of the week in Columbus during the growing season—and talk to the farmers,” Paul says when asked what advice he would give to restaurants who want to commit to using more local ingredients. “The farmers will get to know you and they will help you choose what is best for your restaurant.”
Empower Staff to Tell the Story of the Food Kevin Malhame, who co-owns Central Ohio’s Northstar Restaurant Group, which operates Northstar Café, Third & Hollywood and Brassica, believes in empowering his staff to know and tell the story of the sustainable, often local, food that is served in their restaurants.
Above: Todd Mills owner of Acre Restaurant
“The great thing about local food is the relationship component—it is enriching—it makes our work and the work of everyone in our company more satisfying,” he says. Northstar Restaurant Group is committed to sustainability as an overarching goal in purchasing. The company is also committed to buying from local producers when possible. During the peak of the growing season, a large percentage of the produce served in the company’s restaurants comes from local farms. As part of their training, managing partners at Northstar Restaurant Group have the opportunity to assist during planting or harvesting season at a supplier’s farm. Additionally, the owners organize a company-wide party at an area farm each Labor Day and they offer employees the chance to attend the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) conference each February. Understanding from all 350 team members of why the company aims to serve sustainable food is crucial to their success story, says Kevin.
Flexibility, Creativity & Community No restaurant can source local food 100% of the time. Bill Glover, the executive chef at Gallerie Bar & Bistro in the Hilton Columbus Downtown, knows that he must balance his love of local with the reality of meeting the demands of a large-scale event venue. At the Hilton, his staff cooks for both the hotel’s restaurant and its conference spaces. “I can’t feed 600 people lunch every day unless I have a balance between large and small producers. In our restaurant we try to focus as much as we can on local producers. It’s a dance that we have to do to balance both spaces,” Bill says.
The Future of Seasonal, Local Eating In a 2015 survey from the National Restaurant Association, which asked chefs nationwide which culinary trends they thought have grown the most over the past decade, 44% of respondents noted local sourcing as the biggest boom in the industry. Todd, Kevin and Bill have all seen positive change in the industry in regard to large-scale distributors responding to the demand for local, seasonal offerings in their product catalogs. All three attest that local, seasonal eating is not a passing trend but the future of the industry. “High-quality food and restaurant experiences are converging with responsible purchasing,” Kevin says. “It is an expectation now from consumers as it has become easier to eat at restaurants that, on some level, are trying to focus on sustainability.” A major hurdle that remains is cost, which may be hindering increased uptake of local food use in the restaurant industry. According to Kevin, in the past couple of years, inflation in the category of local, sustainably produced ingredients has outpaced general inflation. As consumer demand grows for local, responsible food, restaurants that try to meet this demand have seen their costs rise. Nevertheless, according to Todd, though it may take extra effort, the commitment to local sourcing is well worth it as it helps to drive change in our local, regional and national food systems (see sidebar on page 62). “A business’s model may have to adapt to pay a premium for local products but if you do it authentically, people will appreciate it and you will impact the community as a whole,” Kevin says.
At the heart of it, he says, the dance must focus on using all of the resources available to him to make the best dish possible. “The future of this industry resides in putting local foods with non-local foods. Everything on the plate cannot be local. For example, the olive oil isn’t. No one can make Parmigiano-Reggiano like the Italians,” he says. “I think chefs shouldn’t be afraid to use outstanding non-local ingredients with local foods.” Bill also believes that chefs have an important role to play in the local foods conversation by sharing outstanding producers’ stories with others in the culinary community. “One farmer told me, ‘I want to focus on these heritage pigs but I’m worried about how to move the product.’ I told him, ‘don’t worry.’ If it came down to us going up and down High Street, that can be done. I know all of the chefs and I can tell them, ‘you’ve got to see this pork chop.’ And I know the pork chop will speak for itself.” Since taking the reins at the Hilton, Bill has hosted several high-level culinary showcase events, including James Beard Celebrity Chef Tours, which have not only aimed to share technique but to highlight outstanding regional producers.
Visit ediblecolumbus.com for more coverage on this issue and resources for chefs, farmers and eaters to take action on the farmer to chef connection in Columbus.
Clockwise from top left: At Gallerie Bistro & Bar: Pork loin, butternut squash purée, blackeyed peas, New Zealand spinach, ham hock jus, pea shoots, chícharo. Ohio sources: Pork loin “Long Black,” from Anderson Farms; ham hocks from Anderson Farms; New Zealand spinach and pea shoots from The Chef’s Garden. Chef Bill Glover at Gallerie Bistro & Bar Kevin Malhame (left), co-founder of Northstar Café, Third & Hollywood and Brassica. Chris Nufrio (right), Lead Culinary Partner. At Third & Hollywood: Fall Salad of Roasted Beet & Butternut Squash (kale, arugula, roasted butternut squash from Northridge Organic Farm, roasted beets, house-made spiced pecans, Mackenzie Creamery goat cheese). During spring, they source as many local produce items as possible, including: carrots, greens and other produce from Dangling Carrot; greens, herbs and other produce from Jorgensen Farm; herbs and greens from Rainfresh Harvest Farm; lots of items from Krema Nut; and milk from Snowville Creamery. At Brassica: Falafel Salad, Glazed Bacon Sandwich and Minty Pink Lemonade. Items that can be in season through the spring and summer include Lamb Belly, produced by Kennedy Beef and Lamb, Shirley, Indiana; Lucky Penny Feta, produced by Lucky Penny Creamery, Kent, Ohio; Eggplant, grown by Dangling Carrot, Williamsport, Ohio; Beets, grown by Jorgensen Farms, Westerville, Ohio; Jalapeño peppers, grown by Jorgensen Farms, Westerville; and Kale, grown by Jorgensen Farms, Westerville, Ohio, and Great River Organics.
Take Action! Take Action: Producers, Growers & Farmers
Take Action: Chefs & Restaurants
Are you a producer, grower or farmer who would like to get your product
Chefs, are you looking to source more locally? In addition to visiting one of
into the hands of local chefs? Here’s some advice from the culinary con-
Central Ohio’s plethora of farmers markets (you can find a list at edi-
tacts interviewed for this article.
blecolumbus.com) during the growing season to meet producers, below are a few of the farms that the culinary contacts interviewed for this article
Market Your Product Effectively
purchase from directly:
In a profession where word-of-mouth informs many buying decisions, getting the word out on why your product is special is critical.
Anderson Farms, Granville, andersonfarmsohio.com, 740-920-4080
“I know some cheese makers that have world-class cheese but are they
Birds Haven Farms, Granville, birdshavenfarms.com, 740-587-1100
doing everything they can to really get their product out there? The motivation can’t end at just making great cheese,” Bill notes.
Bridgman Farm, Washington Court House, 740-606-3169
Organization, Organization, Organization
Dangling Carrot Farm, Williamsport,
Since chefs will be dealing with many producers, being organized and effi-
cient in communication with them is crucial to establishing and maintaining Jorgensen Farms, Westerville,
a positive relationship.
jorgensen-farms.com, 614-855-2697 “We like growers who we know that their emails will come with exactly the same format every week, their pricing is consistent and they are really good at
RainFresh Harvests, Plain City, rainfreshharvests.com, 614-738-9559
anticipating what’s coming up. It makes for an easy relationship,” says Todd. Stonefield Naturals, firstname.lastname@example.org,
Communicate About Your Fields
Did a soggy summer leave you fewer offerings than you anticipated? Inform the chefs that you work with as soon as possible, if this will impact their
urban Farms of Central Ohio, Grove City,
Todd notes, “We are very willing to adapt to whatever is going on with the
Additionally, farmer-owned cooperatives operating in the region include:
grower but the grower needs to communicate consistently and clearly.”
Take Action: Eaters! Eaters, you have a role to play as well. As Michael Pollan wrote, you can
Great River Organics, Columbus, greatriverfarms.org, 614-929-5525 yellowbird Foodshed, Mount Vernon, yellowbirdfs.com, 419-889-7316
“vote with your fork.” Finally, there are several online databases that aim to link producers to Bryn notes, “It’s important for consumers to hold restaurants accountable.”
When you dine out, ask questions. These questions should not only focus on what farms restaurants are purchasing from, but how much the
The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association’s (OEFFA) Good Earth
restaurant is buying from the farm and how often, she says.
Todd reiterates, “As a consumer, you have the power to ask a restaurant
OSu Extension’s Ohio Market Maker:
‘how frequently do your farmers provide you with food?’”
Additionally, as kevin from Northstar Restaurant Group has noted, real farm-
Ohio Proud from the Ohio Department of Agriculture:
to-table standouts should anticipate and excel at answering consumers’ ques-
tions by empowering their staff to tell the story behind the food. As a consumer you can make real change by choosing to spend your money at establishments that are true to their farm-to-table promise.
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