Farm-to-table: “The farm-fresh beginning to fine dining!”
Farm-to-table: “The farm-fresh beginning to fine dining!”
The global food industry is taking the “farms-to-table” route, a path which has transformed the way we perceive dining and food in general, with the growing focus being on healthy cooking. The world is witnessing the fast fading of junk food, with ‘organic-healthy’ food taking over the realm of food business.
The challenging, health-conscious, New Age consumers are making sure that food they eat is healthy. To ensure this, chefs and restaurants, who are keen on providing collaborative experience of raw, organic and healthy creation, have increasingly started transforming their meals, menus and decor accordingly.
The trend, which first made its appearance back in 1978, when Alice Waters listed the names of farms on her menu of Chez Panisse, to inform and educate people about the food being served, has now become an ever-growing trend, with an even shorter term — F2T — becoming much in vogue.
Although this concept was once lost, mostly owing to urbanisation and large-scale migration into cities at the turn of the century, the now-famous chefs around the world have sparked fumes to establish this farm-to-table concept in a bigger way, with innovations, tactical strategies, simultaneously ‘urbanising’ the farms.
“This phenomenon kicked off about 10 years ago in America, and since then its ‘organic’ everywhere. Farm-fresh and organic food items are widely used everywhere; it is the biggest trend now. By growing your food, you can personally guarantee it is organic,” said restaurateur Rakshay Dheriwal of PCO (Passcode Only).
Urbanising Farms: Roof-top Farms!
Curbing the usual farm-produce and sourcing format, restaurants have started innovative farming, with green roofing popping up everywhere.
The New York-based Rosemary’s restaurant chose to utilise roof space to grow fresh vegetables and herbs with a soil garden, while a restaurant in Kips Bay, named River-park, designed a small farm using milk crates outside their restaurants.
Such restaurants across the world are renewing the erstwhile concept and bringing farms closer to restaurants.
Heather Tierney’s Chinatown hotspot operates on a 500-square-foot rooftop garden, which allows bartenders to spike their haute cocktails with herbs like cilantro and mint, and even heavier ingredients like figs and peppers. Then there is Bell, Book & Candle in the West Village, New York, which took a techo-deal and elected a more alternative method of farming by installing 60 “aeroponics systems” on their rooftop to grow different kinds of vegetables and herbs.
The Westin New York in Grand Central, which is almost 400 feet above the 42nd Street, on the 41st floor of The LCL, has a 1,300-square-foot rooftop garden, which is tended to by chef Brian Wieler himself. He plants and waters 11 vegetable beds and nine whiskey barrels full of herbs.
Moreover, farm-to-table has also inspired the fast food chains, with a newer concept — farm-to-counter. The fast-food chain, Dig Inn, is one such chain of fast, casual restaurants in Manhattan that has adapted the concept of farm-to-counter, serving fresh, juicy kale, sprouts and lettuce.
Farm to table fine dining – In Decor | Lifestyle | Menu
Chefs are increasingly stepping outside the kitchen, strongly pressing their opinion on the world, while adopting this uncanny influence for the look-at-feel of restaurants. The rustic, raw, whimsy and seasonal highlights the ambiance and menus of farm-to-table restaurants. They send out their meals as a message of sustainability.
Keeping up with the need to serve majorly fresh, local and seasonal ingredients in the farm-to-table restaurants, this restaurant in Illinois One Eleven Main, has a Chef’s Menu Series, focusing on fresh ingredients, with seasonal cooking. They have seasonal menus with category names like Fall Harvest Menu, Spring Foraging Menu and the like, which is inclusive of well-crafted innovative recipes of every season.
Cibo Trattoria, located in the heart of downtown Vancouver, specialises in rustic Italian cuisine, where they use only fresh ingredients with heavy emphasis on organic ingredients. While Chef Casey Lane, a culinary expert from El Paso, bases his authentic farm-to-table concept restaurants on the Venice beach, 90-year-old olive trees accent the modern-rustic interiors, with a mix of exposed brick and towering glass forming the decor, with seasonal vegetables, cheese and braised meats strongly representing the concept.
Alden & Harlow, a Cambridge restaurant, features whimsical line drawings of mushrooms and onions in the menu, in what appears to be a deliberate farm-to-table branding.
Chef Kevin Gillespie of Woodfire Grill, who has long been a supporter of organic food, has picked up a local theme to create the decor for his restaurant. Fellow Atlanta-based craftsman Tracy Hartley made some of the tables and wood paneling for the Grill.
Artichoke Café & Bar offers a deviant mix of Middle Eastern recipes, which does not conform with the norms of communal platters they serve, which are inspired by Greek, Moroccan and Turkish cultures, with soothing music playing in the background.
Online Farm Food-in’:
Moving forward, the farm-fresh route has even taken meals to the mobile apps and websites, in order to keep their farm-fresh fans engaged.
In addition to more than hundreds of websites that help connect consumers to farmers and real food sources, more and more smart-phone apps are helping shorten the distance between farm and table. Rawleaf, organic leaf, farmers web, healthychefcreations.com, amys.com are some such options available to the consumers these days. Many have been investing in this business to bring farm-fresh food closer to the customers, with phone apps providing recipes, using fresh produce, videos, a national farm-to-table dining guide and ‘farm finder’ or farms to visit, a food for health section, a comprehensive food guide on 200+ food items.
There are also some mobile apps like Real Food, Farm Star living, HarvestMark, Locavore, Buycott where customers can get suggestions on major places to go for farm-fresh, organic meals.
The modern day Farm-to-Table movement is not much different than Alice Waters’ philosophy. But we see an improved version of it, with innovative expansions to technology-driven roof-top farms, fresh produce, and organic meal delivery services, along with organic, raw-theme restaurants and existence of organic food bars and cafes.