Happy Spring: Earth Dinners are Back!

Today marks the first day of spring. It’s been a long winter and we’re so excited to bring back Earth Dinners this April in partnership with Organic Valley.
They’re an opportunity to change your menu in honor of Earth Day – even if just for a night – and highlight the great sustainable ingredients you use! We like to think of Earth Dinners as the Earth’s restaurant week.

When you sign up to host an Earth Dinner, you’ll get support from Chefs Collaborative and Organic Valley. We’ll help you plan your event, and give you the tools to make it a success.

Your Earth Dinner can be anything from a menu special to a one-time event with a local farmer. Our goal is to help you put on the kind of event you want to have, and amplify your story with the media.
Want specifics? Last year, more than 100 chefs hosted Earth Dinners! A few favorites:
  • Uncommonground on Devon in Chicago, IL offered a chef’s 3-course tasting menu. Their menu featured the best spring products from their farm and ranch partners.
  • Local Roots Restaurant in Roanoke, VA threw a Local Spring Lamb and Wild Foraged dinner with nearby farmers.
  • Grand Central Bakery in Portland, OR and Seattle, WA kicked off an “Eat, Cook, Bake Like it’s Earth Day Everyday” Campaign to raise awareness about its year-round sourcing of sustainable foods.
  • Lumiere Restaurant in Newton, MA held a prix fixe dinner. The menu included specialties such as Welfleet oyster ceviche, seared Cape Cod sea scallops, Vermont lamb porchetta and Cricket Creek Farm Tobasi.
  • See all 2013 Earth Dinner events.
The deadline to sign up is April 4. We hope you’ll join us for an amazing 2014 season!

Posted by: Poster Person

Congrats CC Beard Finalists!

JBFLOGOCongratulations to the chefs, restaurateurs, and food writers nominated for the 2014 James Beard Foundation Awards. We’re thrilled to see so many members of our network nominated!

2014 James Beard Foundation Restaurant and Chef Awards

Best Chef: Great Lakes (IL, IN, MI, OH) 

Best Chef: Midwest (IA, KS, MN, MO, NE, ND, SD, WI) 

Best Chef: Northeast (CT, MA, ME, NH, NY STATE, RI, VT) 

Best Chef: Northwest (AK, ID, MT, OR, WA, WY) 

Best Chef: South (AL, AR, FL, LA, MS, PR) 

Best Chef: Southeast (GA, KY, NC, SC, TN, WV) 

Best Chef: Southwest (AZ, CO, NM, OK, TX, UT) 

Best Chef: West (CA, HI, NV) 

Best New Restaurant 

Outstanding Wine Program 

  • FIG, Charleston, SC

Outstanding Service 

Outstanding Restaurateur 

  • Cindy Pawlcyn, Napa Valley, CA (Mustards Grill, Cindy’s Back Street Kitchen)

Rising Star Chef of the Year 

Outstanding Restaurant 

Outstanding Chef 

2014 James Beard Foundation Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America 

2014 James Beard Foundation Broadcast and New Media Awards

Radio Show/Audio Webcast

2014 James Beard Foundation Book Awards

American Cooking

Focus on Health

Single Subject

Vegetable Focused and Vegetarian

Congratulations and good luck to all of the chefs, restaurateurs and food writers who are nominatedthis year!


Posted by: Poster Person

Trash Fish Boston: Stepping Up to the Plate

This is a guest post by Chef Samuel Monsour, Chefs Collaborative member, culinary mercenary and formerly of jmCurley in Boston.

In mid December 2013, Rob Booz  of Chefs Collaborative reached out to me and asked if I’d like to participate in this year’s Trash Fish Dinner hosted in Boston.

Rob’s email informed me that this year’s event would be held at Area Four in Cambridge on Sunday March 16th, which strategically coincides with the Boston Seafood Show. I was super pumped to be invited and without hesitation said sign me up!

IMG_2611 copy

A scene from the Summit. Credit: Sam Monsour.

Just a month beforehand, a bunch of us @chefscollab folks were in Charleston for the annual summit. The warm low-country sun over the long weekend helped us forget that winter was coming, and cheerfully, we soaked up rays of rich food culture and southern heritage. To my surprise, there were countless amazing people from New England that flew down south for the cause. Josh Lewin (Beacon Hill Hotel & Bistro) and I crossed paths frequently, Mary Reilly (formerly Enzo Restaurant & Bar, now Edible Pioneer Valley), my father and I all enjoyed a long walk together, and after giving one of the most memorable speeches of the summit, Michael Leviton (The Man) and I tentatively booked a future beer date. (I’ve got a feeling that this Sunday night works well for the both of us.)

As a Collaborative, our four-day summit was a sustainable sprint that put us all on track toward a better tomorrow. Our finish line became clearer, and felt more in sight than ever before. Collectively, we realized that a future with promise doesn’t start tomorrow, but rather, started yesterday by our founding members. It will be up to each and every one of us to keep pace and endure the journey for a lifetime. I guess it’s more of a marathon than a sprint.

I remember during a panel discussion, I asked Sean Brock and Michael Ruhlman some pretty tough questions:

“As a young chef, what will I do when I’m handed the baton? What will I do when it’s my responsibility to keep the movement on track? What’s our endgame? How do we reach the masses?”

I’ll never forget Chef Brock’s answer. Simply put, and without hesitation, he responded, “never give up.” In the moment, I was expecting a more complicated answer, but as time has passed and I have been able to reflect, I’ve realized just how acute and powerful those three words are.

Ahh, the fucking memories. Anyone else hit up that skeevy-ass pizza joint a block from the hotel, Gilroy’s? Did you take them up on their BYOB license and grab an ice cold tall-boy of PBR from across the street while you awaited your hot and gooey slice?? Maaan, what a blast that trip was.

I guess that’s where I’m going with all of this. For as many great things as I learned and was exposed to, I had even more great interactions with people. After all, it was people that gave the speeches and hosted the breakout sessions, and it was people that showed up to learn and participate (over 300). All of those people decided to pledge an allegiance to a great cause, and I think it’s vital to our mission that we to take time to reflect upon how important and vital people are. Without people, there would be no collaborative.

My Pops and I met some super passionate people during our stay, one in particular that I’d like to mention is Scott Nichols (Verlasso). He shared with all of us some very harsh realities of farm-raised fish, and the approach toward farming salmon that Verlasso is working on. Scott sent us a few whole salmon over Christmas so that we could sample his product. They were wicked tasty! Scott will be in town for the seafood show and he’ll be dining with us at the Trash Fish Dinner. I love that small world shit. It’s proof that we really can build a global network of like-minded professionals, all working together toward painting the bigger picture. A piece of art that our founding mothers and fathers envisioned in the 70’s. (Insert green grass related marijuana pun here.)


Samuel Monsour

It truly moves me that I can have so many feelings about a dinner event that hasn’t even happened yet, and none of which have anything to do with actual cooking. The original purpose of this little blurb was to share the creative process of developing a dish using #TrashFish, but I think I’ll refrain.

This story ends here, on a much bigger note. This dinner isn’t just another dinner. Sure, the food will be delicious, and of course, “trash fish” will be utilized and promoted. But, way more than eating will be going on. Awareness will be raised. Commitments toward the movement will stay true. Bonds will be strengthened.

Let us remember that through nourishing our relationships we actively work toward growth, and spread the philosophy of the sustainability movement. I truly look forward to seeing all of you at the dinner and the seafood show, and am grateful to be on a card with 9 outstanding chefs.

***Teaser*** There will be at least 5 unsung heroes of the night: dogfish, Acadian redfish, hake, Atlantic Pollock, sea clam. (Sea raven and sculpin are available if any of the chefs want to step up to the plate.)

Posted by: Poster Person

Boston chefs and cooks work with unconventional grains

Last week 20+ chefs and cooks got together at Catalyst in Cambridge for a gathering of the Boston Local and an afternoon of pasta making with Chef William Kovel and Four Star Farms. Together in Kovel’s kitchen, we used unconventional local grains like spelt and corn to make two delicious pasta dishes:


Top L to R: Catalyst demonstrating their pasta extruder and making smoked spelt flour; A close-up of the gorgeous heirloom Rhode Island white flint corn flour (bottom left) from Four Star Farms, and some lobster roe stock (top left); Our Boston Locals enjoying the fruits of Catalyst’s labor!
Bottom L to R:  Corn flour and lobster roe pasta, pre-cooking; Chef William Kovel (R) and his staff talking with the group; The delicious, freshly made corn flour and lobster roe pasta. 

You can see the full set of pasta making photos on our Facebook page.

We’d love to see you at our next event! Whether you made it to the pasta demo or not, here are two ways you can get involved today:

Posted by: Poster Person

New England Farm Burns Down, Community Rallies

This is a guest post from Jed Webber and Amy Severino of Webber Restaurant Group.

Blood Farm

Photo: Art Campbell

On the morning of Sunday December 29, 2013 Blood Farm in Groton, Massachusetts caught fire. The fire destroyed their meat processing facility, which was one of only two USDA-inspected meat processors in New England.  The Blood family has run the century-old facility for many generations and have a reputation for being clean and safe.

Nearby, Gibbet Hill Farm raises cattle and lamb. They used Blood Farm for processing its livestock. The ability to send the livestock a few miles away for processing, then back a few miles to the restaurant, which sits adjacent to the farm, is unheard of in the industry.

Throughout the region, farmers, restaurants, meat purveyors, and food lovers are all feeling the ripple effect of the fire, but no one has felt it worse than the employees who have been left without a job. Blood Farm will rebuild, but until then, these employees, many with specialized skills, are struggling to make ends meet.


Photo: Art Campbell

On Thursday, February 27, in support of their neighbor, Gibbet Hill Grill will host a fundraiser to benefit the employees of Blood Farm. 

We invite friends to come together for a reception at The Barn at Gibbet Hill. There will be a large selection of food and a cash bar. Other members of the Groton food and restaurant community are providing desserts: Bliss Bakery, The Blackbird Café, The Farm To Table Cafe at Groton Wellness, and The Main Street Café.

Entertainment will be provided by Groton-based Gary Wilson Blues Project, playing the blues, with special guest Julius Borges, noted Groton luthier and musician.

Please visit the Blood Farm Groton Ways to Help page for more information.

Posted by: Poster Person

Trash Fish L.A. Dinner: ‘The Best Seafood You’ve Never Tried.’

Last Friday, our upcoming Trash Fish Dinner in LA got a great shoutout in the Los Angeles Times!

“Trash Fish, a dinner featuring sustainable seafood and hosted by the nonprofit organization Chefs Collaborative, will take place at Mediterraneo restaurant in Hermosa Beach on March 10 to bring attention to undervalued species of fish (“It’s not just by-catch anymore!”).

The focus on fish that have been regarded as “trash” is meant to show that they’re in fact delicious, as well as plentiful, Trash Fish organizers say. “Creating a market for them helps take pressure off of overfished species as well as helps to sustain our threatened fishing communities,” Chefs Collaborative said in a statement…”

We’re thrilled to see Trash Fish getting such traction – and our LA organizers let us know that the dinner is quickly selling out. For more information on Trash Fish LA, visit bit.ly/TrashFishLA.


Posted by: Poster Person

Turning Waste Into Wins

By Claire Cummings, Waste Specialist for Bon Appétit Management Company

Wasted food in our industry is rarely a good thing: it means all the time and resources that went into growing, distributing, and cooking that food are squandered. It often means that food is going to a landfill, where it decomposes and emits methane, the greenhouse gas 20-25 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. And let’s not forget, wasted food almost always means wasted money!

Despite all the problems associated with waste, I am happy to share that my employer, Bon Appétit Management Company, has found a way to turn our waste into something positive for our food-service operations and for our community. More than 70 of our kitchens at colleges, universities, and corporations around the country are taking leftover, edible food that would otherwise get tossed out, and donating it to people in need on a regular basis – a process known as food recovery.

We at Bon Appétit probably shared many of the same concerns you did upon first hearing about food recovery:

  • But do we even have enough food to donate? Yes, it is simply the nature of our industry. We can’t be certain how many people are coming in and what they are going to eat every day. Even small servings recovered, day after day, add up to a lot of food over time.
  • But doesn’t that take a lot of staff time and energy? Not when you work with great partners like the Food Recovery Network!

There are many common misconceptions about food recovery, but rest assured that it can be done, it is easy to do, and it is completely worth the minimal time and energy it takes to donate.

It is hard not to love this simple solution to waste and hunger issues in our community, and our guests couldn’t be more thrilled to see us donate. That is why when the Food Recovery Network asked us to be the first food service company to pilot their Food Recovery Certification, a new certification to recognize businesses that are regularly donating food, we didn’t hesitate to jump on board. The certification process is easy to do, and the rewards are significant.

Our first cafés that have gone through the certification process have passed with flying colors and our chefs are already getting positive feedback from their guests:

“Our customers care about their community and the environment, and they want to know that we care, too. Bon Appétit cafes have increasingly been donating our surplus food to hungry people. Food Recovery Certified is helping us communicate this to our customers in a compelling way,” says Craig Hetherington, Bon Appétit Executive Chef at the Seattle Art Museum’s TASTE restaurant.

It is hard to imagine something more universally hated than waste; it is just so painful to see good food getting thrown out, especially when there is such a need (about 1 in 6 Americans is food insecure). So for all you chefs out there: we encourage you to start a food recovery program, donate, get certified, and turn this universally hated problem into a win for your restaurant and your community!

For more information, contact:
Cara Mayo, Program Manager for Food Recovery Certified
Email: cara.mayo@foodrecoverynetwork.org

Posted by: Poster Person

Member Spotlight: Flavor Plate

This month we talked with Holly & Corey Machanic, new members and co-founders of restaurant website design firm Flavor Plate.


Tell us about yourselves! What is your history with the sustainable food world?

Well, it’s actually pretty simple, and more personal than business-related… We have two young girls (7 and 10), and ever since their birth—while coinciding with the release of some of the more popular food documentaries—we’ve become very aware of the importance of the source and quality of our food. We think it’s too easy to assume that what’s on the market today is “safe” or “healthy” to eat, but the reality is we really need to be questioning things more thoroughly. Once you gain an awareness about the importance of where your food comes from, it becomes a lens through which you can see more critically, and it enables you to make better informed choices.


What does FlavorPlate do and what’s your vision?

We have over 15 years of web usability and design experience—working with many national and international brands—combined with over 10 years in restaurant and account management positions. Like many of us, we dreamed of making a living by doing something we love. We’ve been fortunate to be able to develop a product that combines so many of our professional skills with our personal interests. It’s a real gratifying experience.

Our goal with Flavor Plate was to make a restaurant’s most valuable marketing tool (i.e. its website) easy to use, manageable, accessible, and affordable. We’ve found the best way to do this is to mask the complexity, with simplicity. If we keep our product simple and easy to use, our clients will be empowered to use the technology, and their guests will have a positive experience using their website. It’s a very basic premise and everyone that tries Flavor Plate agrees—anyone can use it.

We created Flavor Plate from the ground up specifically for restaurants. It’s not a WordPress solution, or some other all-purpose website solution. It’s a custom product. All of its features, and how you use them are specific to what a restaurant needs, how a restaurant functions, and probably more importantly, what their customers need.

FP-MagnoliaIn a nutshell, Flavor Plate is a template-based solution that allows restaurants to build and manage their website. Our customers can easily manage their menus, photos, events, contact information, farm partnerships, press, and any other content that helps tell their story. They can connect with social networks, and other third-party services like reservations and online ordering. We offer a seamless integration with our online merchant partner to give each of our customers the ability to sell their own gift cards or gift certificates through their website. This feature is included with their regular monthly subscription. In addition to all of that, we’ve anticipated the need for mobile optimization by building every Flavor Plate website on a responsively designed template. This assures that our clients’ sites display properly, or “respond,” to every screen size automatically (desktop computers, smartphones, and tablets), and the restaurateur never has to take any extra steps to assure this—it’s built in.

Why do you think the chef community is crucial to support in sustainable practices?

There are many chefs and restaurateurs that run their businesses by putting their values first. Those values (i.e. supporting sustainable food practices) often come with a higher price tag. By choosing to use fresh, locally-sourced ingredients they’re doing what feels right—right for their business, right for their local economy, and right for their guests. At Flavor Plate, we want to recognize this commitment, and help support them by doing as much as we can.

In addition to supporting organizations like the Chef’s Collaborative, Farm Aid, and other local food networks, we’re offering discounted prices on our monthly subscription and design services to “Farm-to-Table” supporters.

Why are you a member of Chefs Collaborative?

We’re a small bootstrapping start-up, and it’s important that we align ourselves with organizations who are working towards a shared goal. We decided to support Chefs Collaborative because of their important role in the food community. They’re in a unique position to be able to use their network to communicate valuable information about sustainability to large audiences, and ultimately, this work is going to benefit us all.

What’s next for Flavor Plate?

We’re very aware of the many unique challenges that restaurants face, and we believe there is a place for technology to help solve some of them. Our hope is that as we develop more relationships with customers and local food organizations, we’ll gain a better understanding of these challenges, and continually improve our product to help resolve these issues.

There is one opportunity on our radar that we feel strongly about, and that’s helping the small independent farms. There’s a need to craft a like-solution for them, and with a little more research, and a better understanding of their needs, we feel that we’ll be able to create a stronger connection between the “farm” and the “table.” So if you’re a small farm, or a restaurant that would like to help support a farm, please contact us. We’d love to talk with you about how we can help.

Additional Info

Interested in learning more? Flavor Plate offers a free initial design setup to each new client. Custom design services are also available at an hourly rate. Be sure to check out their website
for more.

Corey and Holly Machanic live in Burlington, Vermont and are lucky to be surrounded by some of the most progressive sustainable food initiatives in the country.


Posted by: Poster Person

Pasta Making with Local Grains: 2/25!

We hope that you and your restaurant have survived the Valentine’s weekend. We’ve got an exciting opportunity coming up for all you CHEFS and COOKS in the Boston area on Tuesday, February 25th.


Boston Local Leader Larry Leibowitz

What: Local Leader Larry Leibowitz and chef William Kovel have teamed up with local grain producer Four Star Farms to put together a pasta making demonstration, using a variety of local grains.
Where: Catalyst Restaurant, 300 Technology Square, Cambridge, MA 02139.
When: Tuesday, February 25th.
Why: Here’s a chance to learn some new skills or new approaches to skills you may already have, all while incorporating locally grown grains.
Who: This free event is open to working chefs and their staff only.


Posted by: Poster Person

Call for responsible antibiotics use

Image: Pew Charitable Trusts, saveantibiotics.org

Image: Pew Charitable Trusts, saveantibiotics.org

While people need a doctor’s prescription to take antibiotics, anyone can buy antibiotics for cows, chickens, and pigs over the counter. This is one of the reasons why more than 70% of antibiotics are sold for use on livestock rather than people.

This matters, because the overuse of antibiotics in farm animals breeds deadly drug-resistant bacteria. The CDC reported that these germs are responsible for at least 2 million human illnesses and 23,000 deaths every year. Many experts are worried that our overuse of antibiotics is signaling the end of antibiotics as we know it (check out this fascinating article by Maryn McKenna for more).

It’s time to stop using antibiotics to boost meat production!

Just before the new year, the FDA proposed a new policy that would require veterinarians to oversee the use of all antibiotics in animal feed and water. This proposal is a step in the right direction, but it contains some critical loopholes that could allow antibiotic overuse to continue.

As a chef, you have the power to influence the conversation on antibiotics. The FDA and the White House are listening to you, and they want your comments.

Will you weigh in? Click here to call for responsible antibiotic use and help us reach our goal of 1,000 chefs taking action. 

Contact us with any questions!

Posted by: Poster Person