“Farm to table” dining may have become commonplace on Chicago’s restaurant menus. But Chef Paul Virant was in the vanguard of the movement just 13 years when he opened Vie restaurant in the suburb of Western Springs. And he is all about giving back to the community. Within a recent three-day span, Paul did a cooking demo with the Gardeneers audience for schoolchildren in Englewood, then was the honoree for Angelic Organics Learning Center at their annual dinner.
Jason Hammel of the critically acclaimed Lula Café is a rarity among Chicago’s top chefs, in that he did not learn the craft in the kitchens of culinary legends. Jason is essentially self-taught. But he counts Chicago legends such as Rick Bayless, Paul Kahan and Matthias Merges as his role models and mentors. Like them, he has played a major role in sourcing from local and regional farmers. We are honored to have Jason as a participating chef at the Frontera 30th Anniversary Celebration, a joint fundraiser for Chef Rick Bayless‘ Frontera Farmer Foundation and FamilyFarmed, which will be held at The Art Institute of Chicago on Sunday, April 30.
A new federal farm bill is on course to be enacted as early as next year. Sustainable farmers and Good Food advocates would have needed to be on guard to protect these programs under any circumstances. But with the volatile political environment in Washington, D.C., supporters of these programs will need to be especially engaged. The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition has been the leading federal policy advocates for the Good Food movement for 30 years. Wes King, an NSAC policy specialist explains the political landscape for the 2018 farm bill and what advocates need to do to prepare.
With the average age of farmers in the United States pushing 60, growing a new generation of young farmers is a regional and national priority. One of the most encouraging recent developments in the Chicago area is the creation of Chillinois Young Farmers — the northern Illinois chapter of the National Young Farmers Coalition — which is providing a much-needed voice to this important constituency. FamilyFarmed is pleased that “Chillinois,” representing the national organization, will be participating in our Good Food Festival on Saturday, March 18 at Chicago’s UIC Forum.
“Team Leverage,” a collaboration of three major Good Food entities in the Chicago region, faced serious competition from four other strong finalists in the Food to Market Challenge. The team won the $500,000 award because of a strong social purpose — bringing healthy, nutritious, affordable food to more school children and their families — plus a distribution model with strong potential to be expanded in Chicago and replicated elsewhere.
There was an air of promise that surrounded Wednesday morning’s grand opening of the Whole Foods Market store in the troubled Englewood neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side.
FamilyFarmed’s Good Food Business Accelerator held on event to promote applications for its next program session, which runs from November to April. And the four program grads who took part in a panel discussion agreed: Entrepreneurs seeking to scale up their small Good Food business and dramatically expand their networks should apply.
Farms running community supported agriculture businesses, or CSAs, have multiplied across the United States in recent years. Under this practice, farms are able to raise revenues for their plantings by selling subscriptions to consumers, who receive boxes of products from the farm over the course of the season. Now the concept has spread to another food sector: sustainable seafood. And, as this article about southwest Oregon shows, businesses and other economic development boosters are working together to build a growing seafood market.
FamilyFarmed’s Good Food Business Accelerator GFBA is accepting applications through Sept. 19 for its third cohort of competitively selected Fellows in its intensive six-month program, which will run from November to April.
We at FamilyFarmed are all about encouraging our readers to become farmers market customers — if they are not already — and enjoy the super-healthy, nutritious and delicious products sold by their local and regional growers. That is why we have an annual tradition of welcoming National Farmers Market Week with an article full of tips about how to save money at farmers markets.
Two things are clear about the annual Chef BBQ fundraiser staged by Chicago’s Green City Market, which took place Thursday evening. One is that the BBQ will be one of the best food and beverage tasting events on the calendar of food-centric Chicago. The other, it seems, is that the summer weather may always be a challenge for this event.
Chicago’s Green City Market is known as one of the nation’s premier farmers market. The Market’s big annual public celebration is its Chef BBQ, which is coming up next week on Thursday, July 21. The event is kind of a foodie fantasy camp, but there is also an important social mission. Green City Market executive director Melissa Flynn discusses in the latest installment of our “Farm to Table: Keeping It Real” series.
There are few people in the restaurant business who have kept farm to table real better — or longer — than Chicago’s Helen and Mike Cameron. They opened Uncommon Ground in 1991 and ever since have been blazing trails in providing diners with locally and sustainable produced food. Read about their ahead-of-the-curve experiences and their 25th anniversary events in the latest installment of our “Farm to Table: Keeping It Real” series.
Rob Levitt has been one of Chicago’s leading butchers for several years, and his store, The Butcher & Larder, has gained an even higher profile since moving from its tiny original shop to the Local Foods retail store that opened last June. Customer service and information is part of the store’s stock in trade — so it was not surprising when the news broke Thursday that fans voted The Butcher & Larder as Best Butcher Shop in Chicago in an online poll.
Sourcing locally is a commitment that is both rewarding and frustrating for a chef. But metro Chicago’s White Oak Gourmet
is committed, even if it means chasing chickens (okay, chicken delivery trucks) around the city. Read Chef Tom Leavitt’s reflections on building relationships with farmers in this contributed column.
There is a strongly held belief in the Good Food movement that local food can spur both urban and rural revitalization, and that vision is getting clearer in the state of Kentucky. Louisville has led the way with a strategic focus on finding and connecting entrepreneurs along the regional supply chain from farm to table.
Frontera Farmer Foundation is a Chicago-based nonprofit that reflects the commitment of Chef Rick Bayless and his Frontera restaurant group to help local and regional farmers build their businesses and succeed. The foundation presents the lineup of its 2016 grant recipients, and we are very pleased to see many friends and associates of FamilyFarmed.
There was plenty of food to eat at FamilyFarmed’s March 26 Good Food Festival, which drew thousands of attendees for the annual big public celebration of the fast-growing Good Food movement. But the program at the Festival, which included expert panels, artisan workshops and chef demonstrations, also provided plenty of food for thought. This photo essay provides a flavor of the event.
The nine Fellows participating in the second cohort of FamilyFarmed’s Good Food Business Accelerator represent a wide range of exciting entrepreneurial ventures — from bakeries to a prepared meal kitchen to an herb farm, from an apple orchard and cidery to packaged Latino food products to a kombucha maker, and more.
Many organizations and companies are working hard to untie knots in the supply chain for local and sustainable food in the Chicago area, the nation’s third most populous consumer market. Now the effort is getting a big boost from the Food to Market Challenge, a newly launched competition that will bestow a $500,000 award on the winning concept.