The important relationship between farm to table restaurants and local farms.
Executive chef Austin Perkins on local sourcing and sustainable seafood.
Located 50 miles north of San Francisco, California in a small town called Marshall, Nick’s Cove has an 80-year history in the Tomales Bay area.
Originally a fish shack and roadhouse, Nick’s underwent a major renovation in 2007, emerging as an elegant waterside restaurant featuring seasonal farm-to-table and sea-to-table California cuisine.
What sustainability measures have you implemented at Nick’s Cove?
Austin Perkins: There was already a pretty extensive program in place that was initiated at the reopening in July 2007.
We compost our oyster shells as well as our scraps to create beautiful soil for the garden. Additionally, we recycle all can, aluminum and glass products. We are all very conscious of what we put into the landfill and ensure that our staff is trained to recycle as much as we are able.
You have a gorgeous illustration on your menu of the local area and the food producers and artisans located in the Marin/Sonoma foodshed. Is this representative of where you get your food?
Austin: Thank you! We are all very proud of that map because it very clearly communicates many things:
1) we support locally sourced products
2) we support our neighbors
3) we honor and appreciate the relationships we have created with many of our farmers, dairies, etc.
I believe that approximately 80% of all our food is sourced locally. We do deal directly with many of our vendors (Rossotti Ranch, Canvas Ranch, Drakes Bay, Tomales Bay Oyster Company, Larry Wagner, Fallon Hills, Devil’s Gulch, etc.); however, we also are required to go through distributors for other products such as Clover, Straus, Star Route—for those we use local distributors such as Sonoma County Growers Exchange, Golden Gate Meat Company, Greenleaf, etc.
Is it more expensive to source locally?
Austin: It is more expensive to source locally, but the majority of our clientele expects that and understands the cost associated with it.
Is local sourcing and sustainability important to your patrons?
Austin: I believe it’s important to the majority of our patrons. Generally, when we receive feedback on our sourcing practices, it’s to thank us and to further applaud us for caring enough to serve the bounty from our neighboring ranches, etc.
What is your seafood policy?
Austin: We strive to source whatever is local and in season. As a seafood restaurant we are expected to, and we want to, serve fresh seafood.
Because seasonality is such a significant factor in fresh fish, there are times we must go outside of the area to source seafood (scallops, mussels, lobster) and when we do, we are careful that we do not hide that fact. For the most part, our patrons understand the reasons why we might have fish that was not sourced locally.
If you could change one thing that would make local sourcing easier or more practical, what would it be?
Austin: We are so lucky to be located in West Marin because it’s rare that we ever have issues sourcing local product. There are times that a small farmer may have difficulty keeping up with our needs, but we always find ways to make it work!
Read more about sustainable restaurants here.
Sustainable Restaurants: A complete dining guide for Point Reyes California, and the Tomales Bay area.