While everyone in the food world knows about the obvious stalwarts of the farm-to-table movement, what people rarely measure is the impact that these giants have on the rest of the industry. After all, what’s the point of starting a movement if people don’t follow you and put their own signature touches on sustainable eating? And sometimes, chefs and restaurants can make the concept of locavorism exciting and innovating. Here are ten restaurants around the country who are redefining the farm-to-table movement.
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The Inn at Blackberry Farm, Walland, TN
The crown jewel of the Blackberry Farm Resort, this James Beard Award-winning restaurant is nestled deep in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, far away from civilization, and gets its produce directly from the farms on the 4,200 acre estate. This is as farm-to-table as you get.
The Inn at Blackberry Farm]
Cafe Cortina, Detroit, MI
Urban farm-to-table: that's a thing?!
In Detroit?! It is, if you're Rina & Adriano Tonon, the owners of Detroit's Cafe Cortina, and keep a five-acre garden behind your restaurant in order to supply fresh produce, year-round. The Italian restaurant, a 26-year-mainstay in North Detroit, also makes their own vegetable and fruit preserves.
[ Cafe Cortina]
Founding Farmers, Washington, DC
In a city where everyone seems to be gnawing on steaks,
Founding Farmers was one of the first to celebrate the sustainable food movement, and its location near the International Monetary Fund's DC headquarters ensures that a stream of policy analysts, reporters, and political figures go through its doors every day. So basically, Founding Farmers is on our list simply because it exposes decisionmakers to the farm-to-table ethic, which is never a bad thing.
[ Founding Farmers]
L'Etoile, Madison, WI
We've covered how the protege of Odessa Piper continues to run her groundbreaking locavore restaurant with the same, but it bears repeating: Tory Miller in Madison has created some of the country's best sustainable dining, with famed palates such as Andrew Zimmern singing his praises. He does so not only by scouring farmers' markets for produce, but also preserving his finds with both old fashioned and high-tech methods. ( Giant blast freezer, anyone?)
Manresa, Los Gatos, CA
Consistently ranked one of the best restaurants in the world by
Restaurant and Gourmet magazines, Manresa could technically be called "farm-to-table" in that they have only one supplier: they exclusively get all their produce from the nearby Love Apple Farms. But James Beard Award-winning chef David Kinch isn't a fan of labels: “We never refer to ourselves as a farm-to-table restaurant,” he explained to . “Our mission is to find the best possible ingredients we can possibly find and then cook them the best that we can. We’re just micromanaging our supply source.”
[ FarmPlate Manresa]
Merriman's Restaurant, multiple locations, Hawaii
Nearly 90% of Hawaii's food is imported from the mainland, and this staggering statistic is one of the reasons
Peter Merriman is heavily promoting the farm-to-table ethic at his award-winning restaurant. But he's not just cooking local produce -- he's one of the leaders of Hawaii's farm-to-table movement, getting Islanders to start growing and producing their own food. "25 years ago there were a lot of things that we couldn’t get here," he said in an interview with . "But now, I’m satisfied. I never have to leave Hawaii. I’m happy here, and I get everything I want to eat. It’s a great place to live, and it’s a great place to be a chef."
[ KQED Merriman's Restaurant]
The Pleasant House Bakery, Chicago, IL
It's a deceptively simple cafe, serving pastries, breads, pizzas and pies, but Chicagoans are fanatic about all of their woodfired oven-baked goods. What's more, it can claim to be the most farm-to-table restaurant in the Windy City: all of their produce comes from their own Pleasant Farms, a collective of small urban farms located
in Chicago itself.
[ The Pleasant House Bakery]
The Farm and the Fisherman, Philadelphia, PA
The funny thing about Josh Lawler's restaurant is that it hardly
looks like one of those trendy farm-to-table places (there is nary a rough-hewn plank in sight). However, its sleek interior serves possibly the best, locally-sourced food in the area, and in lieu of acres and acres of farmland, the Blue Hill at Stone Barns alum relies exclusively on local purveyors as well as his own hired forager. (Side note: we can hire foragers? Sweet! That's better than having to learn how to harvest ramps!)
[ The Farm and the Fisherman]
The Green Table at Chelsea Market, New York, NY
In a city where everyone and their mothers serve "farm-to-table" menus,
The Green Table stands out for actually cooking casual, good food, with local magazines obsessed with its meze platters and its extensive, environmentally-conscious drinks menu.
[ The Green Table at Chelsea Market]
Ursino at Kean University, Union, NJ
What makes Ursino stand out isn't just what it serves, but where it serves it: the highly modern restaurant is actually part of Kean University (and is housed in one of their academic buildings), where they harvest their own crops on a four-acre farm on campus.