Get to Know Nathan Turner, Summit Scholarship Winner from KT!

Congrats again to all of our Summit Scholarship winners! Today, we’d like to celebrate Nathan Turner, of Boone Tavern Hotel and Restaurant. We sat down to Turner and learned what it means to be “Kentucky Proud,” and how he convinces his guests to try new things:

Thanks for speaking with us today, Nathan. Could you start off by telling us about Boone Tavern and your region in Kentucky? 

I am the line chef at the Historic Boone Tavern Hotel in Berea Kentucky. The 105 year old hotel is one of the first LEED Gold Certified hotels in Kentucky. Owned by Berea College, we serve locals and tourists year round. The Boone Tavern Dining Room embraces southern hospitality, and our cuisine celebrates quintessential Kentucky tradition through innovative preparations and flavors. Boone Tavern is committed to using locally grown and “Kentucky Proud” ingredients, many of which come from the Berea College farm.

DSCN1082Is it challenging to convince the guests in your restaurant to try new things? How do you introduce something that people might be skeptical of?

Yes, it is challenging. The majority of our clientele are senior citizens who are not often very adventurous in their culinaryselections. Our menu is southern with a twist which allows us to serve a gamut of dishes with familiar items while also introducing new flavors and ideas. The wait staff are also trained to use terminology that make the guests comfortable with the dish even when it may have previously unknown ingredients.

And finally, What are you most excited to experience in Boulder at this year’s Summit?

I am most looking forward to meeting other chefs and talking about ways to overcome barriers related to sourcing local products for menu production. I am also excited about the butchering breakout session with Adam Danforth to learn more about making the most of the time and energy already invested in older cull animals.

You can connect with Nathan and 350+ Chefs, farmers, and food professionals at this year’s Sustainable food Summit. Get your tickets, and join the conversation:

Posted by: Hayley Fager

Celebrating Scholarship Winners! A Closer Look at Ben Cantone

This week we announced our 11 scholarship winners, and we’re excited to share their stories with you! Today, we bring you a closer look at Ben Cantone, our winner from Providence, RI. We sat down with Ben and learned about his first experience in a kitchen, and his drive to cook with integrity. We’re thrilled to share the personal side of  this innovative up and comer:

Thanks for taking the time to talk with us, Ben. Tell us a little bit about Tallulah’s Taqueria. What’s the food scene like in Providence?

Here at Tallulah’s Taqueria we serve traditional Mexican street tacos in the east side of Providence, in the heart of Rhode Island School of Design and Brown University. Tallulah’s Tacos is our older sister and what started it all. Jake and Kelly Ann Rojas started slinging tacos in Newport, RI out of their fine dining restaurant Tallulah on Thames for lunch 3 years ago. Then they purchased an old school hot dog cart and started selling tacos and burritos at local farmers markets, that one cart turned into two shortly after the first one took off.  With the success of those they found a wonderful location in Jamestown, RI at Dutch Harbor Boat Yard where they took over a sandi shop that was once the old buoy shed. Fast forward a few thousand tacos and burritos to May 5th of this year when we opened this great shop, filling the air with the smell of corn tortillas and braising meats.

unnamed-2From the beginning we have worked with local farms to serve local and fresh food for our guests, and to support the local economy. The food scene in Providence is up and coming and looks like it will not stop any time soon. With all of these great chefs and restaurants farm to table is bigger than ever.  Providence is a beautiful place, and it’s finally becoming great food city that offers much more than your traditional Italian spot.

What drives you to cook and source your food responsibly?

I have always loved to cook. I know this may sound crazy, but one of my first and most vivid memories is stirring a pot of pasta. That’s when I fell in love. Crazy and sick, I know, but I love it. I also grew up cooking large meals with my parents for my family every night. For some reason I always ended up in the kitchen. And there is nothing more satisfying than serving people food that they enjoy and seeing their reaction when they take their first bite.

Sourcing food responsibly and locally should be the only way food is sourced.  Along the way I felt as if we had forgotten how our ancestors used to live. You knew where your product was coming from and felt comfortable to say where you received it from. That’s why I try to source as much as I can from local farms and vendors. Along with having fresh local ingredients on our menu my money is going back into our local economy.

And of course, we want to know–What are you most looking forward to at this year’s Summit?

I look forward to meeting incredible chefs, farmers, and people that care about food and the industry as much as I do. I’m very interested to hear the segment on creating a beef industry that heals, and also can’t wait to forage mushrooms in the mountains.


Posted by: Hayley Fager

Announcing the 2014 Summit Scholarships Winners!

We are thrilled to announce the 11 Summit Scholarship winners who will join us in Boulder this September for the Chefs Collaborative Sustainable Food Summit. Congratulations, chefs!

These 11 chefs are on the leading edge of the sustainable food movement and we’ll be featuring them on our blog all week.

Let me introduce you one of our recipients, Chef Sam Monsour of The Future of Junk Food. Sam joined Chefs Collaborative in 2013 while he was working at jm Curley in Boston.

One of Sam’s signature moves in Boston was re-making popular junk food favorites to feature local, sustainable (and healthier) ingredients. In spring 2013, Sam featured menu specials like jelly donuts filled with local jam and “spray cheese” with Vermont cheddar. Sam attended his first Chefs Collaborative Summit in Charleston in November 2013, and he also cooked with us during our 2014 Boston Trash Fish Dinner.

Sam’s passion for fixing our broken food system shines through the moment you meet him. We are thrilled to have him with us in Boulder this fall as his project takes flight and he moves west to LA. I sat down with Sam last week to hear more about his latest projects, and what he’s most looking forward to at this year’s Summit.

CHEFS COLLABORATIVE: Sam, what’s unique about your kitchen?

SAM: Well, haha, probably the most unique thing about it is that it changes every time I cook. Literally. Because I am somewhat of a wandering cook these days. I’m lucky to have a network of amazing chefs that not only keep me inspired with their creativity and thoughtfulness, but help me thrive with their generosity to share their space. I’ve been cooking out of dozens of kitchens over that past 8 months. The challenges are similar to that of on-site catering, so its totally doable. (I love my homie Michael Scelfo’s rational combi w/ smoker attachment).

Samuel Monsour

CHEFS COLLABORATIVE: What’s the most important step chefs can take to make their kitchens more sustainable?

SAM: That’s a tough question, because I’m sure that there are many answers. If I had to share what has worked the best for me, I’d have to quote Nas and say, “hell yeah, awareness is my alias.” Become aware of chefs that are currently leading the sustainable movement, reach out to them, start a personal relationship with them, and learn how you can implement what they have been working so hard to achieve. Michael Leviton is a great example of that.

As a Boston chef myself, Michael is a man that I have extremely high regards for. I had never had the opportunity to met him until last year’s Summit in Charleston. Michael and I have since collaborated. We have pulled off two dinners together, and I’ve been lucky enough to pick his brain on sustainability several times. Networking is real! And its why I think the Collaborative is so powerful and productive.

CHEFS COLLABORATIVE: What are you most looking forward to at this year’s event?

SAM:  I’m looking forward seeing familiar faces, making new relationships, experiencing the scenery and flavor of Boulder, and gaining an overall awareness of what has happened since we last got together in November of 2013. I know I will learn some cool new philosophies on how to implement sustainable practices in my business, crush some local pints with friends, and find Boulder’s equivalent of Charleston’s skeevy pizza dive Gilroy’s…

And of course, strapping on my Vibram fivefinger barefoot trekking shoes and becoming one with nature and my primal side as I head into the Rockies with wild mushroom enthusiast Michael Heim for an afternoon mushroom foray and walk in the woods. (plus a whole lot more).

CHEFS COLLABORATIVE: What’s next for you?

SAM: Well, hopefully, there’s plenty in store for LA. Aside from taking The Future of Junk Food to the national stage, I’m hoping to finally get my non-profit, Project Hunger Apron, established. I’d love to keep you posted as things progress, but for now, its just a whole lot of planning diligently and finding the right partners…

Posted by: Hayley Fager

Welcome Chefs Collaborative’s New Executive Director

Dear fellow chefs and food activists,

On behalf of the Board of Overseers of Chefs Collaborative, I would like to express our deep gratitude to Melissa Kogut for her guidance and leadership of Chefs Collaborative for the past seven years. A dedicated and pragmatic leader, her work as Executive Director has been instrumental in making us the nation’s leading voice of chefs and food professionals working to repair our fractured food system. We wish her all SaraBrito_headshotthe best in her future endeavors.

Now, as a rapidly growing organization in an even more rapidly evolving food landscape, the need for visionary leadership is more crucial than ever. I am so excited to introduce Sara Brito as the new Executive Director of Chefs Collaborative. Sara joins the staff of Chefs Collaborative after serving the organization for two years as a strategic partnerships and development consultant. Sara distinguished herself by her ability to see new ways for Chefs Collaborative to grow and how to communicate the importance of our work and journey.

Most recently the Chief Branding Officer and Director of Community for The Kitchen family of restaurants and national nonprofit, Sara brings 15+ years of senior leadership experience with Crispin Porter + Bogusky and Digitas working directly with nationally recognized brands, culinary organizations, and Fortune 100 companies.

Chefs Collaborative is honored to have Sara at the helm as we enter the next chapter in our work to fix our broken food system. In the coming months, you can look for increased efforts to combat antibiotics misuse and inhumane practices in livestock production, advocate for GMO labeling, and preserve our fishing grounds and communities.

Please contact Sara at [email protected] to let her know how you want to work with us to change menus, and change minds.

I look forward to seeing you in Boulder, Colorado this September 28th – 30th for our 6th National Sustainable Food Summit.

All my best,

Michael Leviton
Board Chair | Chefs Collaborative
Chef/Owner | Lumiere and Area Four

Posted by: Alisha Fowler

Las Vegas: Join us for an Unadulterated Summer BBQ

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Posted by: Alisha Fowler

Boston: join us and Paul Greenberg at Lumiere 7/23

Last call to join us and Paul Greenberg at chef Michael Leviton’s Lumiere in Newton, MA on Weds.July 23! Tickets are still availablebut they are going fast.

What: We’re taking Bristol Bay sockeye on the road this summer with Paul Greenberg and the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association during our Savor Bristol Bay dinner series. Paul will share excerpts of his latest book, ”American Catch,” and we’ll discuss the state of our seafood industry.

When: Wednesday, July 23 // 6:30 PM
Where: Lumiere in Newton, MA
Buy Tickets: Online 

Lumiere’s special menu for the evening:

  • Lemongrass & Shiso Cured Sockeye Beets, Baby Watercress and Ginger Vinaigrette
  • Hot & Cold Smoked Sockeye Terrine Lumiere Cream Cheese and Mustard Dill Sauce Pumpernickel Croutons
  • Slow Roasted Sockeye Verrill Farm Corn, Tomatillo & Sweet Pepper Ragout Tomato Butter and Sockeye Skin Chicharones
  • Summer Berry Pudding Goat Cheese Cream

Seating is limited, so be sure to reserve your seat today. We hope to see you in Boston this Wednesday!

Posted by: Alisha Fowler

Chefs Talkin’ Trash – Join Us in Denver!

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Posted by: Alisha Fowler

Sustainability is more than just sourcing local ingredients

This is a joint post from Daniel Pliska, chef at the University Club of Missouri and member of Chefs Collaborative, and Chefs Collaborative

IMG_8413“Sustainability is more than just sourcing local ingredients, we must train our staffs to develop a variety of good culinary and pastry techniques in order to keep our jobs sustainable. This enables us to continue to offer exciting dining options to our guests which in turn allows us to be good stewards of the resources from the land and sea.” This was the core message of chef Daniel Pliska in his recent presentation at the American Culinary Federations Central Regional Conference in St. Louis, Missouri. Up next for chef Pliska? A presentation at the American Culinary Federation, where the focus is on our Sustainable Future – how appropriate!

And on the heels of his presentation, chef Pliska is also launching his new pastry book, “Pastry and Dessert Techniques.”

Chef Daniel Pliska has been a long-time member of the Collaborative, and someone that calls out to us with opportunities to reach more chefs about sustainability – and for this, we are very thankful!

PDT-Cover.epsFor more than 25 years, Chef Pliska has had his eye on sustainability and solid training for chefs – he has used recipes and techniques to train his culinary and pastry staff to prepare both classical and signature pastries. Of particular interest to us, his chapters focus on the foundational recipes and techniques of pastry, all without the use of chemicals such as baking powder, baking soda or cream of tartar. The step-by-step photos in Pastry & Dessert Techniques showcase the execution of 35 techniques that are used to create 65 elegant pastry and dessert recipes, many with variations and subcomponents, which can be used to create a multitude of sweet and savory pastries as well as desserts.

Thank you for sharing a sneak peek of your new book with us, chef, and we hope others enjoy it too!

Posted by: Alisha Fowler

A life-changing scholarship opportunity

This is a guest post from Evan Mallett, Chefs Collaborative Board Member and chef and co-owner of Black Trumpet and Joinery Restaurant in New Hampshire.



Posted by: Alisha Fowler

Seattle: join us and Paul Greenberg this Thursday

BBRSDAPICWe’re taking Bristol Bay sockeye on the road this summer with Paul Greenberg and the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association during our Save and Savor Bristol Bay dinner series.

Seattle is our next stop! Please join us at Town Hall this Thursday for an evening with Paul Greenberg.

When: Thursday, July 10
Doors open: 6:30 p.m.
Where: Town Hall | 1119 Eighth Avenue, Seattle, WA 98101
How much: Tickets are $5. Town Hall member benefits: Priority seating, discounted onsite book sales.

Why attend, you ask? Here are a few not-so-sustainable facts to chew on about the state of our seafood industry:

  • The United States controls more ocean than any other country, yet ninety-one percent of seafood eaten in America is imported.
  • American fishermen catch more fish than Americans could ever possibly eat, but we continue to export it — more and more often to Asia.

New York Times bestselling author Paul Greenberg’s latest book American Catch tracks the story of our modern consumption, environmental barriers to its production, and how to relocalize our eating habits.

On Thursday, you’ll hear from Paul Greenberg as he shares more about his travels across the country searching for the origins of marine dishes — and answers to why we’re shipping it all overseas. Plus, you’ll have a chance to buy his latest book and have it signed on the spot.

We hope to see you on Thursday! Please contact us with any questions.

This Seattle event is presented by Town Hall in partnership with Chefs Collaborative and Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association, as part of the Civics series and Town Green sub series, presented with The Peach Foundation, Wyncote Foundation NW, and Elliott Bay Book Company. Series supported by The Boeing Company, the RealNetworks Foundation, and the True-Brown Foundation. Series media sponsorship provided by The Stranger and KUOW.

Posted by: Alisha Fowler