FamilyFarmed.org is pleased to report on the success of its local procurement partnership with Big Bowl. The Asian concept restaurant has nine restaurants including four in the Chicago area, and is committed to purchasing sustainable, local food.
Big Bowl has been a sponsor of the Good Food Festival & Conference and after Big Bowl and other Lettuce Entertain You chef’s cooked at FamilyFarmed.org’s Autumn Harvest Supper at Heritage Prairie Farm, Big Bowl’s chef Marc Bernard contracted with the farm to purchase 2 acres of produce for the 2011 and 2012 seasons. Earlier this year, Bernard even purchased a neighboring farm where he is growing fruit and vegetables for the restaurants.
Building on this success, Big Bowl’s local sourcing has skyrocketed to include large amounts of local produce, Niman Ranch Pork, and over 200 dozen pasture raised eggs aweek from Little Farm on the Prairie in Illinois. “There’s no discussion when you compare the flavor of a commerical egg with a pasture one – the one from the happy chicken tastes so much better,” says Bernard. “A better tasting egg makes the dish taste even better.” Eggs at Big Bowl are used in pad thai, fried rice, hot and sour soup and desserts. While classic Chinese egg dishes, such as steamed eggs or egg omlet with Chinese chives and oyster sauce may not be wildly popular at the restaurants, Bernard hopes to offer them as specials just so his guests can enjoy these eggs as the starring ingredient.
“Big Bowl is pleased to continue our partnership withFamilyFarmed.org on the Local Food Project to improve the supply chain for locally grown and responsibly produced food,” says its president Danny McGowan. “You have been an excellent partner to help us increase our local food procurement and we look forward to building on this success in future years. We also hope that this relationship will provide new opportunities for other restaurants in the Lettuce Entertain You group. Local food is of interest to many of our operators at Lettuce. FamilyFarmed.org can play a key role in helping them to expand their sourcing.”
Direct to restaurant sourcing is an exploding area of growth for local farmers, as restaurants of all sizes are beginning to recognize the importance of local food as customer awareness about their food increases. With funding from the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, FamilyFarmed.org works with many restaurants and the Green Chicago Restaurant Coalition to provide sourcing assistance that supports local family farmers and restaurants.
These restaurant-farmer partnerships are an essential component of a robust local food system that provides the freshest product available at fair prices to farmers. If your restaurant is interested in free support to purchase local food, please contact James Pirovano, here.