When we were asked by Iris Bailin, a chef who was classically trained in Europe, for squash blossoms – an unheard of request in the early 80s for a farmer in Huron, Ohio – I asked her how many other farmers she’d approached. “At least 20,” she replied, none of whom were willing to fulfill her request. That opportunity was exciting to us, and thank goodness we decided to listen.
I am extremely proud and honored to represent the farm at culinary events throughout the country. Whether I’m presenting to a group of culinary students, a chef association or attending a dinner with one of our customers, I cherish the opportunity to share the philosophies of what we do here on the farm, hoping that they will listen and spread the importance of sustainable agriculture and knowing where your food comes from.
Many chefs have been connecting the dots for their guests by identifying their suppliers on their menu and training their servers to talk about the producers they use and why. Others go a step further by introducing us!
I recently participated in a “Meet the Farmers” dinner at The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island along with Matt McLean of Uncle Matt’s Organic fruit and Gary Reed of Gary’s Seafood Specialties. The hotel’s Executive Chef Thomas Tolxdorf invited me to join this esteemed panel so his guests would better understand why he buys from The Chef’s Garden.
The thing we hear most often is that chefs recognize the passion of our team members who focus daily on growing, harvesting and packing our products, and working with chefs to fulfill their orders. Without a team committed to what we do on the farm and the needs of the chef, we would not be able to deliver the level of quality, consistency and service that our customers expect. It is the effort of our dedicated team to improve, evolve and exceed a chef’s expectations that is our greatest asset.