In an interview with EthicalFoods.com, Chef Tory Miller shares his thoughts on sourcing locally and the difficulties that climate change has brought to the restaurant industry.

Chef Tory Miller

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 restaurant, Chef Miller produces a grand selection of artisan cured meats, breads, butters, fruit preserves, pastas, pickled vegetables—all from scratch.

 

Why source sustainable food from local suppliers?

The short answer? It just makes the most sense. The best food is grown closest to you, and while sometimes it might be cheaper to buy food that is produced elsewhere, it doesn’t taste as good. When you are a part of a community, what’s more sustainable than trying to support that community?

Has your restaurant been affected by the drought, ocean acidification, or any other changes in climate?

Yes. One of our apple growers only got 7% of the yield that he normally has. Many others lost a lot of their plants and had to charge higher prices. As a restaurant, you can’t always pass along those higher costs to your guests. There’s a limit to what the market can bear. So everyone has to work together, and basically suck it up.

Are there any other challenges you’ve encountered in trying to find local suppliers of sustainable food?

Everything is a challenge, but you have to learn to accept what’s available to you. People ask me all the time—is there anything that is being done or grown where you are that you need? And I never really think about it like that. If I don’t have it, I don’t need it.

If you could change or accomplish one thing in 2013 that would make local, sustainable food more accessible, what would that be?

I would love to see some kind of subsidies given to small family farms, and to restaurants that support them, to be able to lower their costs and thus their prices. If a certain percentage of your income comes directly from using local agriculture, it would be great to receive a percentage back.

How do you think climate change will affect agriculture and the restaurant industry in the future?

I feel as though people will see a shift in the way that they eat here in Wisconsin. Things are becoming ripe earlier in the year. The biggest change this season was seeing corn, tomatoes, blueberries, Brussels sprouts and winter squash on tables at the same time. Food can only grow as long as it can grow, so if the climate keeps changing, we’re going to continue to see lots of short growing seasons.

 

Click here to read our restaurant review of L’Etoile.

Photo credit: Tom Kirkman and Samantha Egelhoff.


Off the Menu: Staff Meals from America’s Top Restaurants

The Slow Food Guide to New York City: Restaurants, Markets, Bars

Candle 79 Cookbook: Modern Vegan Classics from New York’s Premier Sustainable Restaurant

Wild Flavors: One Chef’s Transformative Year Cooking from Eva’s Farm



Kitchen Counter Compost

Don't Miss This

Forage Restaurant What sets Forage apart are its ingredients – or more specifically, their sources. Forage is located in the trendy Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles, known for its young, good-looking denizens, ...
Raw Milk: Interview with Mark McAfee Mark McAfee, farmer and owner of Organic Pastures Raw Dairy in California, explains why people should choose raw milk, the strict regulations inhibiting the growth of raw milk dairy, and why organic c...
Ocean Acidification & Seafood The ocean’s ecosystems are being crippled by increasing acidification levels caused by greenhouse gasses.  Declining fish and shellfish populations have already begun to impact the seafood industry. ...

Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: Affiliate links may appear on this page. We may receive a commission on purchases made through affiliate links. Learn more on our Terms Of Use page