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Jason Perlow

Sourcing the good stuff

5 posts in this topic

Marco:

One of the things that always amazed me about Craft (and similarily with Hearth as well) is how you were able to source such amazing produce for use in your dishes.

Even for a high end restaurant, finding top quality mushrooms (oh, the mushrooms!) and other vegetables can be a huge challenge. How do you guys do it?


Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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I think that being able to source good ingredients is really a function of my time and experience in the restaurant business. To get the most pristine products you have to first establish relationships with individual purveyors. Over time, they get to know what you will and won't accept. The tricky part is maintaining cordial relations without compromising your standards of quality.

When I first opened La Cucina, a seasonal restaurant on Martha's Vineyard, it was amazing how all the purveyors tested me. It wasn't until after I sent orders back, called them to complain about the quality, and became a regular tyrant that I began to see a difference in what I received. It was obvious to me that the caliber of any given purveyor's ingredients ranged from poor to pristine and they need to find someone to sell their mediocre product to. As a chef you need to establish the reputation of someone who won't accept anything less than great ingredients.

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Are most of your sources local or do you have product shipped from far away?


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Did all purveyors try to stick you with bad stuff? That would really piss me off. Any purveyor who did it more than once and prompted you to drop them? (You don't have to name names.)

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In terms of using local sources, I have always been a big supporter of the farmers at the Union Square Greenmarket. My relationship with many of those guys dates back to my Gramercy Tavern and Craft days, and it's great to still be doing business with them at Hearth.

Eight months out of the year most of the ingredients I use are local, but during those four cold, dreaded months of the year, from late November through early March, we have no choice but to source products from elsewhere.

When it comes to purchasing certain specialty items, being a New York City restaurant chef is a lot of fun because you have access to products the world over. For example, I always get bay scallops from Nantucket when they are in season, dried oregano from Sicilily and miatake mushrooms and hamachi from Japan.

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