Farm to Fork: Chefs support Montana producers, create delicious offers
By CORINNE GARCIA
Photos by LYNN DONALDSON
Like the rest of the country, the farm-to-table concept seems to have taken hold in Montana, and more than ever, restaurants across the state are supporting local producers. Here, several passionate chefs explain why the locavore movement is so important for the Treasure State.
Montana Ale Works, Bozeman: Roth Jordan, chef/co-owner
Eight years ago, when Roth Jordan started chefing at the high-volume Bozeman hotspot Montana Ale Works, local food was only trickling in.
“It started with farmers and ranchers coming to the back door,” Jordan said.
He appreciated their high quality products and would buy as much as he could, but it wasn’t enough to depend on.
So he created a win-win situation: Montana Ale Works loaned a local organic producer $10,000 to buy a root vegetable harvester. The restaurant was paid back in carrots.
“We called it ‘Cash for Carrots,’ ” Jordan said. “It reduced the farm’s manual labor, enabling them to plant an additional seven acres, and we got a steady stream of produce.”
A year later, Montana Ale Works invested in that farm’s greenhouse to get more greens in return.
University of Montana Dining, Missoula: Director Mark LoParco and Chef Patrick Brown
In 2003, a group of University of Montana students created a local food event as a class project. It was so popular that it prompted UM Dining Director Mark LoParco to look into the use of local foods throughout the university. Today, under his guidance and implemented by Executive Chef Patrick Brown, UM has one of the most successful Farm to College programs in the country – a model that other institutional settings are encouraged to use.
“Local for us is the whole state of Montana because of the volume of food we require,” LoParco explains, noting that along with a student population of 15,000, they also feed faculty, staff and visitors. “Out of the $3 million we spend on food, $800,000 is spent in Montana.”
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