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moosnsqrl

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I can name a few more, Chef Gerard Maras in New Orleans started his own farm to supply his restaurant with things he couldn't get from suppliers. And the classic is Bern's Steakhouse in Tampa, they were doing organic farming in the mid-70s to supply the restaurant with the produce they wanted.


It is good to be a BBQ Judge.  And now it is even gooder to be a Steak Cookoff Association Judge.  Life just got even better.  Woo Hoo!!!

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moosnsqrl: Thanks for the terrific reply. Culture certainly plays a part, but the advantage here is that one of the main avenues of cultural change is education. The lack of subsidized capital for infrastructure for small-scale farming, however, is certainly a more significant hurdle, but it's only a hurdle. I say "only" because others have found ways to overcome it. You're right about farmers, by the way, and I am always amazed by the selection I can get from Satur Farms during winter here in New York. One advantage to global warming is longer growing seasons for warm-weather produce.

JWest: I cannot comment on what you wrote about the dining public or chefs' motivation because it simply doesn't make sense. If chicagowench, Devotay, and moosnsqrl are but three devotees to this cause (on both sides of the equation, consumption and production), then it follows there are probably others. In this case, as in many others in micro-economics, demand follows supply backed with plenty of effort, time, and education. We can blame the Midwest's non-foodie population; small-town groceries for their lack of locally-grown or -reared foodstuffs; local, state and federal governments for misappropriating tax dollars; agribusiness for hiking up the operating costs of the local guy growing turnips, ultimately forcing him or her to sell the farm; or anything we want to. Blame does little but generate finger-pointing, as defeatism only breeds more defeatism. So, again I ask, what are we going to do about it?

joiei: NOLA is my hometown, but I have never had the pleasure of dining at Maras' restaurant. Is Bern's Steakhouse still open? That's awesome a steakhouse went local. Where did they source their beef from?

Devotay: I love Iowa City, and was planning to dine at your restaurant before I left the Midwest several years ago. Obviously it hasn't happened, but it will one day. Just wanted to say say kudos for carefully sourcing your fish. I was raised offshore fishing, and the preservation of our oceanic ecosystems and marine life is often overlooked at most high-end restaurants, even the "thoughtful" ones here in New York.

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Yes, Bern's is still open. Here is their web site.

For your pleasure we also offer A La Carte Vegetables to complement your dinner. All of our vegetables are fresh and most are grown by us, without pesticides or chemicals, and all are seasonal, of course. Canned or frozen vegetables are never used. Please ask your waiter what is available

It does not say if they locally source their beef. You might email them and ask.

It is good to be a BBQ Judge.  And now it is even gooder to be a Steak Cookoff Association Judge.  Life just got even better.  Woo Hoo!!!

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JWest:  I cannot comment on what you wrote about the dining public or chefs' motivation because it simply doesn't make sense.  If chicagowench, Devotay, and moosnsqrl are but three devotees to this cause (on both sides of the equation, consumption and production), then it follows there are probably others.  In this case, as in many others in micro-economics, demand follows supply backed with plenty of effort, time, and education. 

It really wasn't a comment towards you but merely a group of thoughts based off of my anger from reading a few of your comments throughout this thread.

So again, these are just thoughts to be thrown out in the mix of it all:

I've watched my grandparents slowly downsize there farm to where they stopped spending time on family vegetables and even started going to the grocery store because there wasn't enough people buying from them. Why supply when there's no demand? Also, I have been in contact with Campo Lindo Farm and they mentioned because of the warmer weather, they weren't able to raise organic free range turkeys. All I wanted to do was get a turkey from a local area but Campo Lindo wasn't able to supply that because of weather problems. Sometimes, you just can't get local.

Again, theres people who care about this but it's just a small percentage...of course there are probably others but that case can be made with any side. The average person couldn't point out a bulb of fennel much less know the understanding of eating local foods. I've lived in this area for 20 years, Im not wrong about this...just because you can count three individuals who are proven supporters of this cause doesn't mean there's reasonable amount of others in the mid west to follow. You need a lot of people to ask for this stuff.

You can't just make restaurants and farmer's lose money in the short term. There needs to be a way where restaurants and farms can be connected to where there's a consistent movement from farm to restaurant without the hassle of playing phone tag. Then you also need people to recognize that and support those restaurants which supports those farms serving to those restuarants.

It's not just one problem, it's many problems but one thing that people can do to help is by simply asking restaurants why they aren't serving local foods and eventually restaurants will respond back with what their customers want. For those restaurants that aren't active in this cause, they find a comfort in calling their local food proveyor and mainting food costs at a consistent level.

Im a firm believer in local foods but I don't see why it's such a terrible thing to use ingredients from outside sources??? No more olive oil from Italy? I guess the folks on eGullet don't want us using Okinawa Sweet Potatoes? I'd much rather see restaurants in Kansas cook seasonally first while using the best available ingredients. Also, just because it's local doesn't mean its the best but in most cases it's a lot better than the stuff you get from Sysco.

My question is, will it be enough for farmers to survive if they had restaurants buying from them? Do they need a bigger turn out at farmers markets? What is necessary to keep the farms alive?

Also, What are the demensions of the term "local"? Are we talking about 100 miles or something different? and are we trying to get restaurants to sell ONLY local ingredients or most of the menu to have local ingredients? What would you, MR. IML like to see in a menu if you sat down for dinner in Kansas? and how do you justify what is allowed to not be local? Are we all just going to eat Kansas Beef and Crappie? Should we start asking sushi joints where they get their tuna from? Why can't we just follow the rule that the best sardine is better than the not-so-good lobster? I think I just don't understand where you stand... please explain what you think is appropriate for a restaurant to be serving. You've obviously shown your dislikes with the "expensive restaurants" in KS FedEx'ing fish in. I, myself think it's great that they are pairing qaulity filets of fish and I don't understand why the turnip needs to be creatively cooked when it probably tastes best simply cooked with salt and pepper by not destroying the integrity of the vegetable. I side with ChefCAG that it's difficult to be completely loyal to the cause especially in the winter months. I find IML's comments to be absolutely rediculous by using sly phrases to point the finger at "high end" and "expensive" restaurants in Kansas.

DaveCrum and BigCountry's input is your awnser to what we should do.


Edited by JWest (log)

"cuisine is the greatest form of art to touch a human's instinct" - chairman kaga

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Wow, what a dialogue! I've been so side-swiped from this weekend that I just now caught up with some of what's been said here.

I think everyone has raised good (and funny) points.

My question is: what is the big deal about eating/cooking seasonally and sourcing (excuse the term) from local farmers? What is so important about this mode of living/eating/thinking/operating? Is it because the food media industry has put it out there as an important “trend” to follow? Is it culinary chic, gastronomically à la mode? Is it because some lady named Alice Waters wrote a manifesto thirty-some years ago and we believe it to be the gospel truth? Is it because it’s the “natural” way to live? Is it because it’s a necessary way of operating in order to save our planet? All of the above?

I think yes.

For me, the importance of seasonality is to sustain a craft and way of living that is not only in tune with the natural progression of this world, but also an expression of our ability to harness its natural resources. But, I don’t think that it should strictly limit how and what we enjoy. For thousands of years, humans have been trying find ways to extend the enjoyment of foods for longer periods of time: salt curing, brining and yes, even force-feeding geese and ducks are all products of this desire.

I don’t think our current state is any different – we’ve just got more capabilities… not all of which I’m convinced are harmful.

Although I was born and raised in the Midwest, my origins are not here. Tracing back, my people came from distant lands, as I would assume is the case for most of us. Am I destined to eat “Sous Vide Crappie, Missouri Pecans, Braised Turnips, Local Potato Puree?” Perhaps, if I lived a hundred or so years ago. But, I don’t.

It’s not that I don’t support sustainable and traceable food. Quite frankly, as a consumer, it’s damned-near impossible to insist on it.

Look it: I’m with chicagowench, Big Country, moosnsqrl, and the rest who advocate of sustainable and seasonal cooking/eating. But, I’ll be the first to admit – I like BIG salads all year around. I need my greens – I don’t care what time of year it is. Are greens seasonal all year around? Yes. Just not in Kansas City, Missouri. Do I necessarily need them to survive – not really. But, they are being produced naturally all year-round by farmers in certain areas. If we were constrained to eating what grew within a few miles, I think most of us would move to California. But we don’t, so we don’t…

Sometimes you have just got to work with what you have, while continually striving for something better.

But, what is better? Twenty years ago, better might have meant being able to eat sea scallops in Chicago, or wild ramps in Phoenix. Today, with overnight deliveries and flash-freezing technology, all of that is very possible – but, as IML noted, at great expense, both monetarily and environmentally. Look at Las Vegas – show me a desert that naturally sustains caviar, oysters and foie gras.

Has “better” now become a rejection of all of these possibilities? Does better now mean natural to the terroir, “better” for our environment, better for our farmers, or better for taste (have you tasted a tomato or strawberry in December?)? Or, does “better” mean having the best of all worlds within reasonable boundaries.

I do frequent the farmers’ markets during the summer – religiously. I do that here in Kansas City during the summers, and I did that all year around when I lived in California. But, I also do go to the grocery store to buy that cut of lamb, or that filet of salmon – all of which were produced by farmers somewhere. Where possible, I boycott produce and meats that I know are not sustainably produced. But, this takes a lot of education and reading. Thanks to chefs like ChefCAG, who make pocket-sized sustainable seafood (Seafood Watch) information booklets available to guests, people are becoming smarter and more aware of where our food comes from.

I disagree that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks – otherwise, how does this world evolve? Recently, I had dinner at two very nice restaurants in Missouri – at one meal, I had scallops, veal sweetbreads and cassoulet with duck confit. At the other, I had everything from caviar and oysters to foie gras and Wagyu beef tartare. Would Missourians have ventured eating any of these things ten years ago? Would any chef have dared to offer them? Ten years later, Midwesterners have learned about and expanded their appreciation of food enough to book every table at these restaurants.

I think ChefCAG summed it up nicely above by acknowledging that:

Farming is still to this day a tough freakn job and the need every cent they can get. As for fish there is no question.  Believe it or not my customers demand certain things and I have to keep up to stay in business…period.

While I hope I’m never “that” difficult diner that insists on anything, I do like to take advantage of what our world has to offer. Is that scallop I had this weekend naturally from Missouri? Nope. Did I enjoy it along with the locally produced mushrooms and root vegetables. Yes.

Can Missouri catfish ever be the same as a scallop? Nope. Can a local Missouri chanterelle compare with an Alba white truffle? Can that bottle of Bordeaux from France compare with a local vintner’s offering? Can South Carolinian BBQ compare with Kansas City BBQ? They’re all different and wonderful in their own ways. But given the choice between a locally produced turnip and an imported one, I’ll go for the locally produced one.


“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

My flickr account

ulteriorepicure@gmail.com

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Wow, what a dialogue!  I've been so side-swiped from this weekend that I just now caught up with some of what's been said here.

I think everyone has raised good (and funny) points.

My question is: what is the big deal about eating/cooking seasonally and sourcing (excuse the term) from local farmers?  What is so important about this mode of living/eating/thinking/operating?  Is it because the food media industry has put it out there as an important “trend” to follow?  Is it culinary chic, gastronomically à la mode?  Is it because some lady named Alice Waters wrote a manifesto thirty-some years ago and we believe it to be the gospel truth?  Is it because it’s the “natural” way to live?  Is it because it’s a necessary way of operating in order to save our planet?  All of the above?

I think yes.

For me, the importance of seasonality is to sustain a craft and way of living that is not only in tune with the natural progression of this world, but also an expression of our ability to harness its natural resources.  But, I don’t think that it should strictly limit how and what we enjoy.  For thousands of years, humans have been trying find ways to extend the enjoyment of foods for longer periods of time: salt curing, brining and yes, even force-feeding geese and ducks are all products of this desire.

I don’t think our current state is any different – we’ve just got more capabilities… not all of which I’m convinced are harmful.

Although I was born and raised in the Midwest, my origins are not here.  Tracing back, my people came from distant lands, as I would assume is the case for most of us.  Am I destined to eat “Sous Vide Crappie, Missouri Pecans, Braised Turnips, Local Potato Puree?”  Perhaps, if I lived a hundred or so years ago.  But, I don’t.

It’s not that I don’t support sustainable and traceable food.  Quite frankly, as a consumer, it’s damned-near impossible to insist on it. 

Look it: I’m with chicagowench, Big Country, moosnsqrl, and the rest who advocate of sustainable and seasonal cooking/eating.  But, I’ll be the first to admit – I like BIG salads all year around.  I need my greens – I don’t care what time of year it is.  Are greens seasonal all year around?  Yes.  Just not in Kansas City, Missouri.  Do I necessarily need them to survive – not really.  But, they are being produced naturally all year-round by farmers in certain areas.  If we were constrained to eating what grew within a few miles, I think most of us would move to California.  But we don’t, so we don’t…

Sometimes you have just got to work with what you have, while continually striving for something better. 

But, what is better?  Twenty years ago, better might have meant being able to eat sea scallops in Chicago, or wild ramps in Phoenix.  Today, with overnight deliveries and flash-freezing technology, all of that is very possible – but, as IML noted, at great expense, both monetarily and environmentally.  Look at Las Vegas – show me a desert that naturally sustains caviar, oysters and foie gras.

Has “better” now become a rejection of all of these possibilities?  Does better now mean natural to the terroir, “better” for our environment, better for our farmers, or better for taste (have you tasted a tomato or strawberry in December?)?  Or, does “better” mean having the best of all worlds within reasonable boundaries. 

I do frequent the farmers’ markets during the summer – religiously.  I do that here in Kansas City during the summers, and I did that all year around when I lived in California.  But, I also do go to the grocery store to buy that cut of lamb, or that filet of salmon – all of which were produced by farmers somewhere.  Where possible, I boycott produce and meats that I know are not sustainably produced.  But, this takes a lot of education and reading.  Thanks to chefs like ChefCAG, who make pocket-sized sustainable seafood (Seafood Watch) information booklets available to guests, people are becoming smarter and more aware of where our food comes from.

I disagree that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks – otherwise, how does this world evolve?  Recently, I had dinner at two very nice restaurants in Missouri – at one meal, I had scallops, veal sweetbreads and cassoulet with duck confit.  At the other, I had everything from caviar and oysters to foie gras and Wagyu beef tartare.  Would Missourians have ventured eating any of these things ten years ago?  Would any chef have dared to offer them?  Ten years later, Midwesterners have learned about and expanded their appreciation of food enough to book every table at these restaurants.

I think ChefCAG summed it up nicely above by acknowledging that:

Farming is still to this day a tough freakn job and the need every cent they can get. As for fish there is no question.  Believe it or not my customers demand certain things and I have to keep up to stay in business…period.

While I hope I’m never “that” difficult diner that insists on anything, I do like to take advantage of what our world has to offer. Is that scallop I had this weekend naturally from Missouri? Nope. Did I enjoy it along with the locally produced mushrooms and root vegetables. Yes.

Can Missouri catfish ever be the same as a scallop? Nope. Can a local Missouri chanterelle compare with an Alba white truffle? Can that bottle of Bordeaux from France compare with a local vintner’s offering? Can South Carolinian BBQ compare with Kansas City BBQ? They’re all different and wonderful in their own ways. But given the choice between a locally produced turnip and an imported one, I’ll go for the locally produced one.

Apparently, though, it *is* still true that one should let sleeping dogs lie. :wink:


Judy Jones aka "moosnsqrl"

Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.

M.F.K. Fisher

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Here’s a paradox I have yet to resolve:  Why (or, better yet, how) do so many of the French and Spanish chefs we mimic and study and fawn over stateside have a cuisine imprinted with a particular geographical accent, despite being located in their respective hinterlands?  And why is there no American analog in the Midwest? (I was born in the South, and a strong case can be made that it has its own culinary idioms.) Best of all, as one of my great mentors in this industry would ask, what are we doing to do to develop one?

This is a tangent from the original discussion about using local products, but I can't resist it. As a native Midwesterner, I'd strongly disagree that there isn't a Midwestern culinary accent. Of course, there is.

But, like Midwestern linguistic accents, it's often perceived to be "standard American." I grew up in Detroit (where broadcasters were once sent to learn to speak standard American English) and I now live in Chicago and I find very distinct differences between everyday food in these cities and what people eat when I travel to other regions.

There's a bigger emphasis on meat and potatoes here than on the East or West Coasts, or even in the South, for example. When my friends who moved to Seattle came on a visit, the first thing they wanted was a steak, and they claimed -- whether true or not, I can't say -- that they couldn't get steak as good as ours at home. (And the place we were eating was only in the middle rank of Chicago steakhouses; the meat was wet-aged, USDA Choice.)

Even though we now see seafood from all over the world here, lots of Midwesterners shy away from things that swim, and when they do eat them, they have a predilection for freshwater fish: whitefish, perch, trout, pike. Dairy products get more emphasis here than on the coasts. We also have our share of ethnic influences from immigrants, exhibited in dishes like chicken Vesuvio and Cincinnati chili.

You don't see this region's cuisine emphasized in fine-dining situations very often -- the erstwhile Prairie in Chicago was a notable exception -- but it certainly exists. It also tends to be pooh-poohed and dismissed by people from other regions, especially people who disdain red meat and dismiss this area as "flyover country."


Edited by LAZ (log)

LAZ

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My question is: what is the big deal about eating/cooking seasonally and sourcing (excuse the term) from local farmers?  What is so important about this mode of living/eating/thinking/operating?  Is it because the food media industry has put it out there as an important “trend” to follow?  Is it culinary chic, gastronomically à la mode?  Is it because some lady named Alice Waters wrote a manifesto thirty-some years ago and we believe it to be the gospel truth?  Is it because it’s the “natural” way to live?  Is it because it’s a necessary way of operating in order to save our planet?  All of the above?

I think you missed a (the?) key point--it usually tastes better.

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Has “better” now become a rejection of all of these possibilities?  Does better now mean natural to the terroir, “better” for our environment, better for our farmers, or better for taste (have you tasted a tomato or strawberry in December?)?  Or, does “better” mean having the best of all worlds within reasonable boundaries. 

Nope, Aaron, that point was made - somewhere, amidst my dissertation. :wink:


“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

My flickr account

ulteriorepicure@gmail.com

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Here’s a paradox I have yet to resolve:  Why (or, better yet, how) do so many of the French and Spanish chefs we mimic and study and fawn over stateside have a cuisine imprinted with a particular geographical accent, despite being located in their respective hinterlands?  And why is there no American analog in the Midwest? (I was born in the South, and a strong case can be made that it has its own culinary idioms.) Best of all, as one of my great mentors in this industry would ask, what are we doing to do to develop one?

This is a tangent from the original discussion about using local products, but I can't resist it. As a native Midwesterner, I'd strongly disagree that there isn't a Midwestern culinary accent. Of course, there is.

But, like Midwestern linguistic accents, it's often perceived to be "standard American." I grew up in Detroit (where broadcasters were once sent to learn to speak standard American English) and I now live in Chicago and I find very distinct differences between everyday food in these cities and what people eat when I travel to other regions.

There's a bigger emphasis on meat and potatoes here than on the East or West Coasts, or even in the South, for example. When my friends who moved to Seattle came on a visit, the first thing they wanted was a steak, and they claimed -- whether true or not, I can't say -- that they couldn't get steak as good as ours at home. (And the place we were eating was only in the middle rank of Chicago steakhouses; the meat was wet-aged, USDA Choice.)

Even though we now see seafood from all over the world here, lots of Midwesterners shy away from things that swim, and when they do eat them, they have a predilection for freshwater fish: whitefish, perch, trout, pike. Dairy products get more emphasis here than on the coasts. We also have our share of ethnic influences from immigrants, exhibited in dishes like chicken Vesuvio and Cincinnati chili.

You don't see this region's cuisine emphasized in fine-dining situations very often -- the erstwhile Prairie in Chicago was a notable exception -- but it certainly exists. It also tends to be pooh-poohed and dismissed by people from other regions, especially people who disdain red meat and dismiss this area as "flyover country."

Please take my comments with a few caveats, as a lot of people on this thread have not: I'm making generalizations, trying to summarize the Midwest as everything north of Texas and sweeping over to, say, Ohio ("flyover country," as you said). This conversation originally started with a focus on Kansas, but I think state-specifics are irrelevant. The second implication of this thread concerns a particular strain of restaurant and cookery, and I think a lot of what has been said implies either high-end restaurants or locally-owned restaurants trying to make a difference (like a bluestem or Devotay). While one could say overblanched, unsalted veg lumped next to meat and potatoes is prototypical Midwestern food (my family falls in this category), my comments were more geared toward the high-end, where most restaurants in the Midwest tend to be culinary carbon copies of the coasts, where a high percentage of chefs receive their formative training before "returning home." (My girlfriend and I are both Midwesterners working in the high-end segment here in New York. And, in all fairness to the Midwest, I think the majority of high-end restaurants on the coasts resemble each other, including those here.)

Aaron: Good point. Going local tastes better (assuming farms have built quality), and is ultimately more efficient (from every perspective) in the long-run. I've worked on many local and organic farms across the country, and so many good friends in Kansas grow organic produce and rear livestock for a living. Having lived places that have a developed network of local growers (farm-to-market and farm-to-restaurant) versus those that do not, I have learned the main difference is that the former has people who have simply buckled down to do the gruntwork necessary to eat good, locally-produced shit. That's it. There's no mystique to it. It's damned hard work, but it pays off in the end.

Going local doesn't mean swearing off foodstuffs grown elsewhere; such equivocations are mindless, and miss the point of what's around you.

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Aaron:  Good point.  Going local tastes better (assuming farms have built quality), and is ultimately more efficient (from every perspective) in the long-run.  I've worked on many local and organic farms across the country, and so many good friends in Kansas grow organic produce and rear livestock for a living.  Having lived places that have a developed network of local growers (farm-to-market and farm-to-restaurant) versus those that do not, I have learned the main difference is that the former has people who have simply buckled down to do the gruntwork necessary to eat good, locally-produced shit.  That's it.  There's no mystique to it.  It's damned hard work, but it pays off in the end.

No disagreements here. The sad reality is, unfortunately, that most Midwesterners, despite their geographic location and environs don't work or live on a farm and therefore have never taste-compared an organically raised chicken or heirloom tomatoes to their commercial or out-of-season counterparts.

Edited to add: This is, I think, one of, if not the biggest challenge to progress in the Midwest. Programs like the one that Big Country participated in (and I believe that ChefCAG, David Crum and other area chefs have as well) are great because they introduce fresh produce to Midwesterners at a young age. I can't remember the show that Jamie Oliver did - but I think Oliver and BBC (?) did a series where he went into industrial and economically depressed areas of the UK and worked with the schools to educate children about food. It's sad to know that there are kids (adults?) who don't know a beet from a leek, or a carrot from an onion, no less a good-tasting one from a unfresh/bad-tasting one.


Edited by ulterior epicure (log)

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

My flickr account

ulteriorepicure@gmail.com

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I can't say how many times I've purchased vegetables like zucchini, eggplant, leeks and cauliflower only to have the young cashier ask me "what is it and what do you do with it" types of questions. Sometimes the cashier actually seems interested and says maybe they'd like to try eggplant, but most of the time they appear to be just perplexed. Very sad, indeed.

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Since this thread is about menus, I'd love to hear from eGulleters on the service side of the restaurant industry - what produce/meats get quizzical looks and inquiries from diners in your restaurants?


Edited by ulterior epicure (log)

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

My flickr account

ulteriorepicure@gmail.com

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Since this thread is about menus, I'd love to hear from eGulleters on the service side of the restaurant industry - what produce/meats get quizzical looks and inquiries from diners in your restaurants?

Food recognition drastically decreases when people have no menu to rely upon. It has been my experience that most guests at the high-end, including many eGullet members not in the industry, haven't a clue what they're eating. If I were tell them leeks were spinach and sweetbreads were chicken, most would believe me. It's somewhat saddening. It's tough for me to read a lot of restaurant "reports" in the New York forums because many members don't have their facts straight about what they're eating. What encourages me more than anything is to hear (or read) about people taking gastronomy into their own hands, and making good food at home. Hands-on, repetitive education is always the best.

Per reading from menus, most guests are thrown off and will ask "what's that?" with variety meats; fish types that stray beyond the typical salmon, sea bass and halibut; shellfish types that are not served at Hooters; root, wild and/or Asian vegetables; any French, Italian and Spanish preparations designated on a menu; and so on. Interestingly enough, questions (and knowledge) go way down when people are dining on an expense account (more a New York phenomenon than Midwestern) or when they're old and rich (i.e., regulars).

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I still chuckle thinking about the reaction of a lady at a table next to mine at a restaurant in NYC when the waiter explained what sweet breads are.

Edited to add: Now, that was NYC. Recently here in Kansas City, I overheard a woman debating with her companion as to what venison might be...


Edited by ulterior epicure (log)

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

My flickr account

ulteriorepicure@gmail.com

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It's sad to know that there are kids (adults?) who don't know a beet from a leek, or a carrot from an onion, no less a good-tasting one from a unfresh/bad-tasting one.

And this is why I am researching the Rethinking School Lunch program out of Berkeley, and ascertaining what's already in place in my neck of the woods and how I could assemble a group to approach the school district.


What do you mean I shouldn't feed the baby sushi?

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I tell people all the time that I am amazed that people eat THREE times a day and know nothing about food. :blink::wacko: But......I deal with three kinds of customers

1. The "Never dines out" or only "Special Occasions" which seems to be about 35%

2. The "rich and affluent" who either dines at my place becasue they somewhat know food or because they want to be seen....about 63%

3. And yes of course, you guys a.k.a. :laugh: "the food nerds" :raz: who know more about food then anyone. about 2%

So I have a broad range who I'm trying to target. The crazy thing is IML I am well aware of your point and I am not refuting. But….for people that think I can lose one single cent for a cause is crazy. Anytime you want to try to run a high cost low profit small business in the name of a cause be my guest!

Besides after comments like this.

This being said, Bluestem is not a bad choice for dinner, as it is pretty decent, if not underwhelming.  Colby Garrelts is still very young, and it shows in his cooking, which often features lopsided seasoning or balance of flavor -- nothing that cannot be overcome with time.  Megan's desserts sound great on paper, but do not really excite.  Avoid the tasting menu, even if you're tempted.  A la carte is the way to go, and Colby's strengths include meat and game, and also any vegetables that are slow-cooked.  I think KC locals have pounced on this place because it filled a vacuum, as there really wasn't a quirky, chef-driven joint with cluttered tables before Bluestem opened, and lord knows the most talented husband-wife duo in town did the very opposite, picking up shop and relocating to the 'burbs (40 Sardines), where they are content pushing a lazy, uninspired cuisine, and I cannot blame them:  Who wouldn't want to sell out?

Happy anniversary.

It's a littel tough to take you seriously.

And from your old website I noticed you are younger than I am ... :huh:


Edited by ChefCAG (log)

“Nobody can be so amusingly arrogant as a young man who has just discovered an old idea and thinks it is his own." - Sydney J. Harris

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Since this thread is about menus, I'd love to hear from eGulleters on the service side of the restaurant industry - what produce/meats get quizzical looks and inquiries from diners in your restaurants?

Food recognition drastically decreases when people have no menu to rely upon.

Not sure I understand -- do you mean literally no menu? I can't think of a place that has no menu. To be certain they are typically augmented with chalkboards or server-recited specials. And I'm trying to think of anywhere I've eaten in NYC without any written menu. So maybe your meaning is more figurative?


Judy Jones aka "moosnsqrl"

Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.

M.F.K. Fisher

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I tell people all the time that I am amazed that people eat THREE times a day and know nothing about food. :blink:  :wacko:  But......I deal with three kinds of customers

1. The "Never dines out" or only "Special Occasions" which seems to be about 35%

2. The "rich and affluent" who either dines at my place becasue they somewhat know food or because they want to be seen....about 63%

3. And yes of course, you guys a.k.a.  :laugh: "the food nerds"  :raz: who know more about food then anyone. about 2%

So I have a broad range who I'm trying to target. The crazy thing is IML I am well aware of your point and I am not refuting. But….for people that think I can lose one single cent for a cause is crazy. Anytime you want to try to run a high cost low profit small business in the name of a cause be my guest!

Besides after comments like this.

This being said, Bluestem is not a bad choice for dinner, as it is pretty decent, if not underwhelming.  Colby Garrelts is still very young, and it shows in his cooking, which often features lopsided seasoning or balance of flavor -- nothing that cannot be overcome with time.  Megan's desserts sound great on paper, but do not really excite.  Avoid the tasting menu, even if you're tempted.  A la carte is the way to go, and Colby's strengths include meat and game, and also any vegetables that are slow-cooked.  I think KC locals have pounced on this place because it filled a vacuum, as there really wasn't a quirky, chef-driven joint with cluttered tables before Bluestem opened, and lord knows the most talented husband-wife duo in town did the very opposite, picking up shop and relocating to the 'burbs (40 Sardines), where they are content pushing a lazy, uninspired cuisine, and I cannot blame them:  Who wouldn't want to sell out?

Happy anniversary.

It's a littel tough to take you seriously.

And from your old website I noticed you are younger than I am ... :huh:

ChefCAG: There's no reason why you should take my opinion over anybody else's; that's what grains of salt are for. :raz: I applaud what you're doing because I've long believed that Midwestern cities lack quirky, locally-owned restaurants that have a culinary point-of-view. My comments on this thread are not meant as an indictment of any person or business; they're just views I hold dear to me. They're not prescriptions for the way everybody should operate, and, as I previously wrote, I cannot blame a person who chooses to sell out versus somebody committed to the local-organic-seasonal ethic or anybody in between. Life is too complex to pass such judgments.

My criticisms of bluestem were a summary based upon several visits during the restaurant's infancy. You may well be operating the best restaurant in Kansas City as I type this; I wouldn't have a clue, as I have not dined there since then. As I wrote:

Colby Garrelts is still very young, and it shows in his cooking, which often features lopsided seasoning or balance of flavor -- nothing that cannot be overcome with time.

It matters very little to me if anybody takes me seriously. What matters more, for me, is whether communities can make a difference for their local foodways, and create serious opportunities for small-time food purveyors.

moosnsqrl: There's a good percentage of privileged diners in New York who do not want to think, so they have the service staff make choices for them. "Off menu" in this case would be those guests who, at times, seem to relinquish conscious thought altogether, and wouldn't know an aged red Burgundy from a young, bright Malbec, even if they had both many times. Of course, I should be fair. I was recently manager at a restaurant of some prestige (think three Michelin stars) with a staff to match. During new menu tastings most of the service staff would cling to printed food descriptions, and still couldn't identify each round of new dishes as they came out (even through process of elimination) or obvious substitutions (common sensical ones like, say, using a white-fleshed fish for a red-fleshed in a raw presentation). Of course, staff members at such restaurants become savvy through repeat exposure and testing, which flows back to a similar point many people on this thread have made: education has an impact that cannot be overstated.

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It matters very little to me if anybody takes me seriously.

I'd posit that not overgeneralizing, being specific with your words, and writing as if people will take you seriously- because as is evident from this thread, people on here are passionate (to put it mildly) about food and cooking- may well serve you far better in your quest to push

whether communities can make a difference for their local foodways, and create serious opportunities for small-time food purveyors.
. We all have a common interest here, after all!

To judge from this thread, yes. People agree with you that this is vital and important, and that there are some ways- small though they may seem- and energy and urge to create serious opportunities for small time food purveyors. The question becomes how to put intent into action: how to harness this energy to, say, get programming going with local schools, bolster local farmer's markets, get better access for local goods into local retail outlets. We could accomplish a hell of a lot more than just posting on a thread, non?


Edited by chicagowench (log)

What do you mean I shouldn't feed the baby sushi?

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chicagowench: Discourse can play a positive role in informing action, as long as it is constructive and used toward a useful end, and hence my emphasis on: what are we going to to about it? And for further clarification, it matters little to me if a person disagrees with my personal tastes (i.e., I like this, but I do not like this), which have little to do with the current discussion (people in the restaurant industry, me being one, are very passionate and often conflate the two).

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I can not tell you how many times the items on a restaurants menu seem like they could just be pulled out of a box from the freezer. Absolutely no originality, much less any seasonality. And this is from restaurants that are in my town and neighboring small towns. (I am closer to St. Louis than KC.)

Try Chaumette.com --look up their menu on the Grapevine Grill. After the menu, they list the local farmers and local suppliers they deal with. For this area, its a much needed start and that alone makes me want to support them, food is good too though!


Cheese - milk's leap toward immortality. Clifton Fadiman

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1.  Kansas tomatoes are the best.  Please don't argue with me on this one.

Sorry, but I must. :wink:

I grew up in New Jersey. Throughout my childhood, everyone around me talked about how "Jersey tomatoes" were the best anywhere. Once I grew up, I moved to Chicago, where I still live, and found that the tomatoes grown here are every bit as good as those from my youth. Over the years, I have found that other folks, in many other places, claim to have "the best tomatoes" (although this is the first such claim I have heard for Kansas).

I have come to the conclusion that the very best tomatoes are those that are allowed to ripen on the vine in season, are picked at the peak of their ripeness, don't travel long distances or times (so that they don't risk bruising), and are consumed a relatively short time after they are picked. You can find them, in season, at local farmstands and farmers' markets. These are the keys to the most delicious tomatoes, rather than which geographical area they are grown in. Too bad they're only in season for a relatively short period of time - but that's what makes for the panoply of ingredients we use, which varies with the seasons as well as with location.


Edited by nsxtasy (log)

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1.  Kansas tomatoes are the best.  Please don't argue with me on this one.

Sorry, but I must. :wink:

I grew up in New Jersey. Throughout my childhood, everyone around me talked about how "Jersey tomatoes" were the best anywhere. Once I grew up, I moved to Chicago, where I still live, and found that the tomatoes grown here are every bit as good as those from my youth. Over the years, I have found that other folks, in many other places, claim to have "the best tomatoes" (although this is the first such claim I have heard for Kansas).

I have come to the conclusion that the very best tomatoes are those that are allowed to ripen on the vine in season, are picked at the peak of their ripeness, don't travel long distances or times (so that they don't risk bruising), and are consumed a relatively short time after they are picked. You can find them, in season, at local farmstands and farmers' markets. These are the keys to the most delicious tomatoes, rather than which geographical area they are grown in. Too bad they're only in season for a relatively short period of time - but that's what makes for the panoply of ingredients we use, which varies with the seasons as well as with location.

We respect your right to enjoy inferior tomatoes. :wink:


Judy Jones aka "moosnsqrl"

Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.

M.F.K. Fisher

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