James Freyr wrote:Hey Michael, very cool, thanks for offering to answer questions. I'm curious as to how you buy your locally sourced ingredients. I'm sure regulations may vary from state to state, but do you buy directly from the farmer, or do you have to go through some sort of broker who buys from the farmer? If you do buy directly from farmers, do you have any sort of formal contract that you get first dibs on what they have to offer or do you operate on handshake agreements, or is there no agreement and a farmer may show up any day of the week with whatever he/she has to offer?
Tj Jefferson wrote:Wow, Michael this is fantastic!
I am a firm believer in following the financials. I have been trying to set up a way for restaurants in Richmond to benefit from the local production (I'm ~ 45 min from there), but struggling with the "why" on their end. My only exposure to the high-end scene here was one trip under duress to a "fancy" French place that was serving clearly frozen cornish X at preposterous prices, claiming "sustainably sourced". This place is very successful, takes weeks to months to get prime reservations. It was all I could do not to post about the experience and trash their reputation. They copped to it when I pressed, but the decision maker wasn't there to find out why they were sourcing that way, and my wife wouldn't really put up with it on our anniversary (to her credit). How do you separate from the greenwashing on your business end, and how do local producers find allies in the industry? I think they want to. The servers were very knowledgeable about the recipe's origin in the chef's travels to Bhutan or whatever, but they couldn't tell me even what country of origin for the chicken. They were proud of the New Zealand lamb while there are millions of sheep in the state. There is a higher cost of production here, and it will be reflected on lower margins or higher pricing, so it needs to fit their business model.
Anyhow, I guess my question comes back to the money:
1) How many establishments can likely be supported in a city per 100k population that pay premium prices for premium local products (ballpark)? Population here is probably median to high foody hipster%/median disposable income.
2) How do I identify those? The greenwashing is intense! Lots of virtue signalling, low actual virtue situation.
3) To what degree does the chef have a play in the business decision to use premium products? I guess the core is who is the decision maker?
4) Are there good turnkey tools that allow for supply chain integration from restaurants to multiple producers to decrease the administrative time and reliably predict supply?
I am not actually producing beyond my own needs, I'm trying to use my business background to help the local guys get plugged in. I am considering setting up a tiny VC or something to help the cause, because this will require capital/qualifying alternative business plans. If someone is doing that where you are that you know, maybe you can comment.
wayne fajkus wrote:What ingrediant do you wish you had that is not available within 150 miles?
Do you butcher your own meats?
wayne fajkus wrote:What are the rules for gamefish? Can an angler catch a gamefish and sell it to you? Flounder, black drum, red snapper, etc.
I was surprised to hear black drum. I dont think ive ever seen it served before. When i was a kid and restrictions on oversized drum werent there, we would bring home a dozen 40"+ on a weekend spawning run. Many people look down on the big ones (worms). They have a bad reputation. Smaller ones, no problem. My dad had a large family to feed. The drum run was huge.
wayne fajkus wrote:I am fascinated with this thread. Maybe because of the regionality of you to me. I'm close. You seem very committed and your anger of the system is showing.
I suppose alternates aren't readily available to flour. Like pecan flour. Either in qty or price. Thats the solution imo. A perrenial based flour. Texas has pecans. It would take someone creative like you to take pecan flour and turn it into a bread that is palatable to the masses. Which leads to:
After i slaughtered my first batch of chickens it was so different than store bought chicken. As i thought about it, my conclusion was they spent billions in marketing. and with their takeover they changed how we thought chicken should taste and look, cause its the same bred chicken over and over again. And then i called bullshit on this. MY CHICKEN is how a chicken should taste. Theirs is fraud. But it is a factor that has to be overcome whether it is chicken or feedlot vs grass fed beef. Or stories i hear about carbon monoxide injection in beef packages to deepen the red. Beef used to be 100% beef, now it is beef with natural flavorings. When did THAT happen? . It has an effect once this stuff is the norm. Suddenly the real stuff is abnormal. Different. Icky to the uneducated.
Aaron Tusmith wrote:Great topic, I am curious how you handle maintaining compliance with health code in your restaurant. I have worked in restaurants for 13 years and all of the "food safety" requirements seem to revolve around plastic wrap, plastic gloves, and chemicals. Are there ways around this? I have not worked in any establishments that even consider their effect on the environment as far as waste or chemical usage so I would love to learn about any alternatives there are to the use of bleach, or any part of the dishwashing process (corrosive detergents etc.) The ready-to-eat-food thing bugs me the most. Gloves gloves gloves. The amount of plastic trash that results from the creation of one denver omelette is disturbing.
Spencer Miles wrote:Hulloooo.
I grow stuff in fish-poo. My heirloom Genovese Basil has a very delicious smell - that is quite powerful. It produces like crazy. 3 questions:
1. Genovese Basil tastes a little like soap - folk like this?
2. How much should I ask the Italian Restaurant across the street for a given quantity (sprig, pound, ounce)
3. How would you recommend I approach the guy?
Dave Miller wrote:Do you, or anyone in this thread, think that there is a role for the backyard food forest to contribute to our local food system?
I have been developing my 1/2 acre backyard food forest/forest garden over the last 8 years or so. We have lived here 28 years, so I also have a few mature fruit and nut trees.
I have around 200 varieties of edible plants, including 40 apple varieties grafted onto about 6 trees. Lots of berries, nuts, grapes, plums, figs, hardy kiwis, a few mushrooms, and many other things. Lots of native plants, which i see as the foundation of the whole system. No animals though, besides a cat, dog, and thousands of mason and bumble bees (I don’t have time to care for more animals). I do encourage wild birds, wasps, and snakes, for insect and slug control.
I am finally putting in a raised bed no-till vegetable/herb garden.
Overall the food forest is doing great, I don’t do any fertilizing or spraying, just a little pruning, weeding, pest harassment, and lots of harvesting.
My main goal is to be able to walk into my yard any day of the year and pick something to eat. I am very close to achieving that goal.
However it is just a hobby, I still have a regular job 25 minutes away.
Of course I cannot possibly eat everything I grow. I have been trying to harvest and give away my surplus, but I can no longer keep up. I didn't think about how much time it takes just for harvesting. So the birds and other creatures in my neighborhood are well fed
I have invited friends over to u-pick, however there is something new ripening every few days, which doesn't work with most people's schedules.
What I think would be ideal is if some knowledgeable foodie person came by every couple of days and took whatever they want, leaving me enough for my needs and reporting any problems they spot, making suggestions on changing the plant mix, etc. In return maybe I could get a good deal at their restaurant every once in a while. This person wouldn't need to be a chef at the restaurant, maybe they are just a food gatherer?
Michael Sohocki wrote:Thank you for all your questions--anything else I can answer before i get up off the table?
Restaurants can be a long-term support for local, sustainable agriculture. But you have to understand their point of view first. Like farmers, restaurants only grow what sells.