Spring 2001

Earlier this Spring Nancy King Quaintance, Bart Ortiz (our Vice-President of Flavor and Consistency) and Billy Seay (Green Valley Grill’s Chef), taught a cooking class featuring recipes made with some of our favorite locally produced and locally grown food.
Nancy prepared a simple, delicious Fresh Mozzarella and Tomato Salad, divulging the secret ingredient that makes all the flavors pop – a balsamic vinegar reduction sauce. The Mozzarella for this salad was provided by Giacomo, of Giacomo’s Italian Market (336-547-2888) in Greensboro. Giacomo makes fresh Mozzarella cheese every day in his shop, and the class sampled some of his cheeses and handmade salamis. Greens for the salad came from Uwharrie Farm (336-857-2775), which is located at the base of the Uwharrie Mountains and is owned and operated by Larry and Judy McPherson. The McPhersons have provided us with some of our most beautiful fresh produce.

Next, Billy and Bart gave ideas for preparing grits and polenta, including Green Valley Grill’s Expensive Mushrooms Over Fancy Grits. This dish featured Giacomo’s fragrant Italian sausage and grits from the Old Mill of Guilford (336-643-4738), an historic mill in Oak Ridge, NC that has been in operation, off and on, for over 200 years. The demonstration ended with two versatile desserts, a Mixed Berry Tart and Chocolate Goat’s Cheese Truffles, made with award-winning Fromage from the Goat Lady Dairy (336-824-2163), located just down the road in Climax, NC. Following the class, guests enjoyed a lunch that included each of the dishes prepared by our culinary team.

We’ll be teaching classes on a regular basis, and the next one will take place at our Raleigh Lucky 32 on April 26 at 6:00pm We’ll feature some springtime favorites from Lucky 32’s Pacific Northwest Menu. Tuition is $38 and includes dinner and wine as well as a recipe box and a Quaintance-Weaver apron. For more information call Sara Sherman at 800-965-8529 or 336-370-0966.

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Using locally grown produce in our restaurants is a great way to bring the most flavorful food to our tables, and it’s great to support sustainable agriculture within our communities, but it is not always the most practical thing to do in our restaurants. Traditionally, a restaurateur could plan the day’s menu based on produce harvested that very morning. Local farmers would load their fruits and vegetables onto pickup trucks, then go from restaurant to restaurant offering their selections. But, it’s not quite so simple anymore. There are far more restaurants and small, local farmers face stiff competition from other suppliers. Also, restaurants like ours don’t always have the flexibility to change the menu daily. Indeed, we begin planning our featured menus months in advance.

So, we decided to collaborate with our local farming community to develop a model for getting fresh food from the farm to the table. As we develop this model we’re finding solutions to the problems we face bringing food to the table. Hopefully, this is a model that can be applied to the broader restaurant/retail community and to the farming community. This is the key to sustainability for local, family farms and the key to bringing better food to the table.

As a result of our alliance with local farmers in the Triad and the Triangle, we’ll bring fresh vegetables and fruits to our Lucky 32 restaurants for the July Farmers Market menu. We’ve enlisted the help of the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association (CFSA), a non-profit, member organization that works with North and South Carolina Farmers, gardeners, and consumers to develop healthful, sustainable agriculture. Their volunteers have spent hours talking on the phone and visiting with farmers from across the state who are now in the planning and planting stages of growing the fruits and vegetables we will use for the Farmers Market menu.

We’d love to tell you all about each of our partner farmers – these folks have rich and wonderful stories to tell, but we simply don’t have the space. Fortunately, you can still learn about some of them, firsthand, during the Farm Tours organized by CFSA that will take place in April and May. More information about these fun and educational tours follows this article. Here is a list of some of the farmers with whom we’ve begun working:

Moon Creek Herb Farm in Yanceyville
Uwharrie Farm in Asheboro
Tuttle’s Farm in Eden
Handance Farm in Reidsville
Wood Creek Farm in Cana, VA
Pokeberry Farms in Elkin
Brook’s Farm in Oxford
Wu Wei Farm and Gardens in Pittsboro
Valley Hill Farm in Oxford
Ayrshire Farm in Pittsboro

During the July Farmers Market Menu, at each of our Lucky 32 restaurants, we’ll profile our partner farmers and describe what they are supplying to the restaurants. This will give us the opportunity to share the farmers’ stories with you, and we’ll talk more about how they are bringing food from their farms to your table.

This project of collaborating with local farmers could be the beginning of some major changes in the ways local restaurants and grocers purchase their produce. We’re looking into ways to use our experiences as a model for other businesses because we’ve noticed that we’re not the only ones who would like to use and sell more locally grown produce. Hopefully, our discoveries can be used by others, so more people can benefit from North Carolina’s rich abundance.

We’ll let you know how this community project progresses, and be sure to check out our Farmers Market menu in July to sample some of the fruits of our labors.

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©2002 Quaintance-Weaver