Locally Sourced Gourmet Winter Menus

Chef Clayton Chapman provides ample inspiration for creating local, sustainable, handcrafted food in the dead of the Nebraska winter.

You may not have considered Omaha, Nebraska—the corporate headquarters for packaged-foods giant ConAgra and birthplace of boxed cake mix and the TV dinner—a likely place to find a sustainable, no-waste local-minded fine dining restaurant. But as it happens the Grey Plume—awarded 4-star SustainaBuild certification, and named “the greenest restaurant in America” by The Green Restaurant Association—fits comfortably in the revitalized downtown district of Nebraska’s largest city.

Clayton Chapman is the co-owner and executive chef of Grey Plume. His cuisine is “new American” in style, meaning it’s based on upscale and contemporary interpretations of classic American dishes, with an emphasis on seasonal flavors and ingredients. Grey Plume highlights local producers and farming partners, but without being overbearing about it. Rather than barrage their customers with a long list of the names of farms that supplied every ingredient in a dish, Chapman prefers to highlight the source of the dish’s featured ingredient.

For example, a local Nebraska hog farm named TD Niche supplies the heritage pork for the dinner menu, while Plum Creek Farm provides the chicken for a roulade and Majinola Farms, just 45 miles away in nearby Iowa, supplies the Wagyu beef for the tri-tip and strip loin plates. Another local product featured on the menu, usually in burger form, is bison. Grey Plume lists its farm partnerships on its web page, including an urban farm in Omaha and other producers who supply the kinds of ingredients that may not get a shout-out on the menu but are nevertheless both essential and solidly local.

In a move that could bear to be imitated by many other restaurants, the dinner menu also helpfully provides a glossary for those who might be unfamiliar with agnolotti (“a stuffed pasta similar to ravioli”), grissini (“house made, semolina flour crusted bread sticks”) or aronia berries (“native to the heartland and similar in flavor, although less sweet, than a blueberry”).

Nebraska winters are long, cold and full of snow. Paradoxically, Chapman reports that this makes his autumn and winter menus easier to write. The weather is more predictable near the end of the year than it is in the spring and summer, when fierce thunderstorms can tear through the region with little warning, leaving much disruption in their wake. As chef, Chapman relies on his carefully maintained larder of home-preserved produce and cured meats to last him through the cold months.

The Grey Plume is not open on Thanksgiving or Christmas Day, but they will be serving a special lunch on Christmas Eve and a holiday-themed menu through the winter season. “We like to keep the menu bright, vibrant and exciting,” Chapman says, “so our way of doing that is to preserve the best of the season when in season to help get us through the winter.” Local touches include offering a cassoulet made with Nebraskan dried beans, house-made Irish cream and eggnog drinks, and a variety of dishes constructed from the pantry full of such preserved delectables as pear marmalade, apple jam, and peaches pickled with cardamom. The restaurant also features its house-made charcuterie throughout the winter months.

Why operate a locally-focused restaurant at all in a place like Omaha, with its short and unpredictable growing season? For Chapman, the explanation is simple.

“We want the best ingredients available to us—and those ingredients just so happen to be local.”

 

Typical Winter Fare At Grey Plume

Butternut Squash Soup With Truffle And Parsley
We always have soup in house, and this is one of our favorites.  The squash, a puree base,  is poured tableside.  In the bottom of the of the bowl before the soup is poured, we have a squash and parsley panna cotta, parsley puree, truffle powder, a squash seed crumble and house grown micro greens.

Guinea Hens
We have some great local birds that we will be serving by the half each in the near future.  They are glazed in a guinea jus while roasting in the oven.  

Majinola Ranch Wagyu Tomahawk Ribeye
This item is great fun.  We offered this last fall as well.  A 48 oz, bone-in tomahawk ribeye.  Cooked sous-vide and then roasted in cast iron with foaming butter.  We serve it with a platter seasonal family style vegetables and carve the steak tableside.  Steak typically serves 3-5 people.

Whole Roasted Oyster Mushroom
These are locally foraged oysters.  Our window is very small, but what we have seen so far this year have been beautiful.    We cook these 2 lb clusters like most would cook a steak, and carve them tableside for guests.  They are pretty awesome.  

TGP Bar Menu
Not exactly a holiday menu, but this is a new menu feature.  All items on this bar menu are $12 and under, including a house prosciutto from local heritage pork (has been hanging for 16 months).  

Holiday Drinks

Hot Chocolate
We pride ourselves on our hot chocolate.  Served with a large house marshmallow and cocoa nibs.

House Eggnog
Made with local glass bottle cream, farm fresh eggs etc.  Truly delicious. 

House Irish Cream
Same great ingredients as above as well as house preserved condensed milk, organic chocolate etc. 

Wine List
Lots of heavy bodied reds to go with the winter friendly dinner menu.

sustainable restaurant grey plume

Editor’s picks

In the Green Kitchen: Techniques to Learn by Heart

Lucid Food: Cooking for an Eco-Conscious Life

The Good Food Revolution: Growing Healthy Food, People, and Communities

American Grown: The Story of the White House Kitchen Garden and Gardens Across America

Pure Beef: An Essential Guide to Artisan Meat with Recipes for Every Cut

Two for Tonight: Pure Romance from L’Auberge Chez Francois

Real Food Fermentation: Preserving Whole Fresh Food with Live Cultures in Your Home Kitchen

photo credit: Grey Plume


More Ethical Foods Restaurant & Chef Interviews

chef william dissen market place restaurant

Your Chef And Climate Change: William Dissen of Market Place Restaurant

In an interview with EthicalFoods.com, Chef Dissen discusses his efforts to source and promote local, sustainably caught seafood. Read more

Regional, Seasonal Texas Holiday At Dai Due

Dai Due, based in Austin, Texas, has a lot of figurative irons in the fire. They’re a farmer’s market stand. They’re an educational organization. They’re… Read more

Forage LA

Forage Restaurant

What sets Forage apart is its ingredients – or more specifically, their sources. Dedicated advocates of ultra-local, Forage leads the way in inspired community sourcing,… Read more

Restaurants in West Marin Feeding Evacuees of the Sonoma Napa Fire in Northern California

Bittersweet: 16 year old celebrates birthday with other fire evacuees in West Marin West Marin offers shelter, food and support for families fleeing the Sonoma… Read more

Chef Art Smith Interview: Restaurants Going Green

The colorful eatery is one of a growing network of restaurants around the country to embrace sustainability and become a Certified Green Restaurant. Southern Art… Read more

chef jonathon sawyer greenhouse tavern

Your Chef and Climate Change: Jonathon Sawyer of Greenhouse Tavern

As Ohio’s first certified green restaurant, The Greenhouse Tavern maintains two core principles- to use local, organic and sustainably produced ingredients and to operate under… Read more

Onsite Restaurant Farms

Restaurants with roots Restaurants across the country are now boasting farm to table fare on their menus, sourced from local farms or, increasingly, a farm… Read more

outstanding in the field

Farm To Fork

Some restaurants are taking the next step in local, sustainable food by creating their own gardens and small farms. Whether their gardens contribute significantly to… Read more

Samantha Egelhoff L'etoile

L’Etoile

Long before it was fashionable to do so, Piper cultivated strong ties with small regional farmers and their products, from heirloom vegetables and sustainably raised… Read more

Preserving a Legacy, Building a Sustainable Future

Long Meadow Ranch restaurant, winery, olive grove and ranch in California’s Napa Valley Ted, Laddie and Chris Hall, owners of Napa Valley’s beautiful Long Meadow… Read more

Chef Tory Miller

Your Chef and Climate Change: Tory Miller of Graze

As Executive Chef for both Graze and L’Etoile in Madison, Wisconsin, Tory Miller chooses only the finest farm-fresh ingredients from his local producers.  At his… Read more

Daily Bread: Doing Business and Doing Good

JP and Michelle MacFadyen are dedicated to sustainable practices in their restaurant and to sharing the bounty of their bakery with others through local food… Read more