“To me this is all about respecting the farmer, the love they have for what they do. It’s about how I pour my heart into cooking, and how my customers care so deeply about supporting their community. I see us all as one big chain of passion and pride coming together.” – Silvia McCollow, chef and co-owner of Nido, in Oakland, California.
Because farm to table restaurants put such a premium on the robust flavors that come from fresh food, many shun freezers. “I honestly wouldn’t know what to put in it,” said Aimee Olexy, owner of Talula’s Table.
The kitchen at Nido is also devoid of a freezer. “We make everything, including our stocks, from scratch every day. Once we use it up, we start again,” McCollow said. “We have no need for a freezer.”
From the pages of The New York Times to Gourmet, the farm to table movement has been heralded as the new wave of dining.
The term farm to table elicits images of abundant fresh food, grown and raised by friendly family farmers, and ultimately presented in rustic-but-elegant spaces.
The reality is a bit more complicated and varied. An increasing number of restaurants –
from food trucks to fine dining – are embracing farm to table principles.
Of course, the concept – bringing the freshest possible food to the table – is as old as time, but it’s one that Americans for much of the 20th century moved away from as food from around the globe became easier and cheaper to ship and preserve.
By the late 1990s, many chefs and health-conscious consumers began to rebel against the notion that every ingredient had to be available to every kitchen at any time. Their foci became working with what could be produced in their region and in season.
“To me, the term farm to table means it’s hyper local,” said Ryan Pernice, who together with Executive Chef Ted Lahey opened Table & Main in Roswell, Georgia – a bucolic, affluent suburb of Atlanta – in the fall of 2011.
Good food, a strong community, and a vibrant environment – these three goals are drivers for restaurateurs who have staked out rarified turf by building relationships that give power to and sustain their calling. Our three featured restaurant owners – Silvia McCollow, Aimee Olexy, and Ryan Pernice – share what inspired that call.