Fleshing Out Farm-To-Table (Part 2)
We've taken a brief foray into what it means for a restaurant to be farm-to-table. It's a little more than chefs ordering their Wagyu steak online or getting bulk meats with a standard "free range pork" label. It's a process that requires deliberately researching and seeking products that meet a high standard of quality.
A lot of restaurants abandon the commitment to farm-to-table quality because the time it takes to research the farms and process. The level of work required to maintain a fully farm-to-table menu is extremely taxing. Restauranteurs often have a difficult time keeping up with the variability involved with acquiring food products true to farm-to-table quality standards. How might that impact a restaurant on a daily basis? We've got some ideas that'll have you blessing the work chefs put into their menus.
What's a Set Menu?
Traditionally sourced restaurants can set a specific menu because they aren't worried about sourcing their produce and meats. They can buy Wagyu beef online or bulk order from various types of salmon regardless of the season. Low scrutiny of sourcing allows for a menu to be consistently preconceived without concern.
Farm-to-table restaurants don't know this luxury. Their quality is bound by the infinite variability of Mother Nature and the farmers/fisherman involved! If a certain fish isn't in season or the daily catch was fewer than projected, the menu adapts. If a farm isn't growing certain produce one year, the menu adapts. Think of any outside reason that a food product might not be available or have limited availability and add it to the worries of a farm-to-table menu creator.
Farmers and Fishers on Speed Dial
Because of nature being unpredictable, the commitment to true farm-to-table quality requires a level of communication between restaurants and farmers, fisherman, etc. that might change at the last minute. They aren't buying bulk orders of Wagyu steak online, unsure of the source, they're depending on real people, real seasons, and real-time to source food for a menu that could change the next day.
Farmers and restauranteurs have special relationships in the farm-to-table realm because they find ways to help one another out. When communication is flowing well in both directions, menus, product plans, and how they'll address uncontrollable variables can be planned for as much as possible. A chef's job goes far beyond receiving shipments, writing a menu, and slinging plates. The farm-to-table chef is an integral part of the farming community, just as the farmers are integral parts of menu creation.
It is Costly
Between the care, time, and extra steps being taken to develop a farm-to-table restaurant, it's vastly more costly to run and operate than a traditional restaurant. And this is all before your food is even placed in front of you. The next time you sit at a farm-to-table restaurant and notice the higher prices or a few menu options that are sold out, remember the cost of developing the culinary experience you're looking for is well worth it. You're going to end up with proteins and vegetables that have deeper flavors and in most cases healthier for you.
Every year, Americans eat 66.5 pounds of beef. Most aren't concerned with knowing what's in season, eating Wagyu steak online ordered in bulk, or where it came from. For the foodies that are seeking a truly unique dining experience, farm-to-table restaurants are an excellent choice, hard to beat and you'll walk away with a smile.