By Analiese Paik
CT Farm-to-Chef Week, The CT Dept. of Agriculture’s annual celebration of CT Grown, is scheduled for September 14-20, 2014. Restaurants, cafes, caterers, cafeterias, food trucks, bakeries, and other dining establishments are invited to register to participate in this event and partner with Connecticut farms to showcase their Connecticut Grown foods on their menus.
Eateries that already source vegetables, eggs, dairy products, meat and poultry, seafood, fruit, honey, maple syrup, jams and jellies, juice, wines and other CT Grown foods from local farms are ideal participants. If you have a favorite restaurant that sources locally, please encourage them to participate.
What’s in it for the dining establishment?
Promotional materials, which are distributed to each participating venue, and a media campaign will call attention to the event and help attract diners. Consumer interest in eating food grown close to home has never been stronger and it stems from a desire to eat the freshest, most nutritious food that supports the local economy, preserves open space, and protects the environment.
Many of our farmers are growing heirloom varieties of vegetables and fruits unavailable through conventional channels and I encourage chefs to seek them out. There’s no reason an heirloom tomato shouldn’t be on every menu, but there are heirloom squash, peppers, and more coming out of the fields in early September too.
This special program has been running since 2010 and has attracted media attention from The New York Times, Chowhound, and local blogs and newspapers including The Courant, CTBites, and the Fairfield Green Food Guide.
What if I don’t source locally and can’t make it to farms to pick up?
Buy directly from farmers at your local farmers’ market (use our guide to find the best one for you) or order online for delivery from cropups.com. Begun by farmer Dina Brewster of The Hickories in Ridgefield, cropups.com is an online marketplace for restaurants and other buyers to conveniently source food from local farms, many of which use organic growing practices.
What are the requirements to participate?
(excerpted from CT Dept. of Ag documentation)
- A Farm-to-Chef menu consisting of at least four items must be offered September 14-20, 2014, during the participating business’s normal hours of operation.
- At least one Connecticut Grown ingredient must be showcased in each item on the Farm-to-Chef menu.
- Connecticut farms from which ingredients are sourced must be listed on the Farm-to-chef menu and promoted in some additional way, such as through farmer talks/presentations.
- Farm-to-Chef menus should include a wide variety of Connecticut Grown ingredients, including proteins, cheese, milk, honey, maple syrup, fruits, and vegetables. Participants that normally serve alcohol are strongly encouraged to offer one or more Connecticut farm wines.
- Pricing of the Farm-to-Chef menu should fall within the normal range for each participating business.
- Registration forms and participation fees are due by August 24, 2014. Registration forms will not be accepted under any circumstances after August 24, 2014.
SOURCING FARMS AND PROMOTION INFORMATION DEADLINE
- A list of sourcing farms, grouped by category (proteins, dairy, fruits, vegetables, wines, etc) must be submitted by September 7, 2014. Details of farm promotions will be promoted must be submitted at the same time.
- A link to the web page on which your Farm-to-Chef Week menu will be posted must be also be submitted by September 7, 2014. The actual menu must be posted on that page by 12:01 a.m. on September 14, 2014.
- Information will be compiled/published by the Connecticut Department of Agriculture for media and diner use.
- The total dollar amount of Connecticut Grown products used and the number of Farm-to-Chef meals served during Farm-to-Chef Week must be reported by September 30, 2014.
- Information will be compiled by Connecticut Department of Agriculture into aggregate totals that will not include individual participants’ names.
Early registration is $25 per location and ends on July 31. Forms can be downloaded from the Connecticut Department of Agriculture’s website at http://www.ct.gov/doag/cwp/view.asp?a=2778&Q=330850&PM=1