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Chefs Collaborative

Cooking with a Cause

John Ash of John Ash & Co. in California Wine Country
John Ash
Chef Rick Bayless of Fronter Grill in Chicago
Rick Bayless

When you see the face of a chef at your local farmers market, it’s a good sign. It means they are using fresh, seasonal produce in their restaurants, and they are willing to spend extra time and money to get it on your plate. You know those memorable meals — where every vegetable in the brunoise stands out, where every kernel of corn and every shelled pea is bright, tasty and just-picked. It takes a lot of effort to make that happen.

How do star chefs like Suzanne Goin (Lucques in West Hollywood), Joe Miller (Joe's in Venice) and Paul Buchanan work those wicked hours, turn out stellar meals and still show up at the market? They are fueled by a shared passion to make better choices. That means awareness of how food selection affects our collective personal health and our environment. It means using and buying local, seasonally fresh and whole or minimally processed ingredients, supporting "sustainable food choices, and responsible agricultural growing techniques." It also means educating each other and teaching children about good, clean food.

It makes a lot of sense given the fact, as Buchanan points out on his own website, www.primalalchemy.com that the "typical burger will travel 1,500 miles to reach your local fast food outlet."

In addition to Goin, Miller and Buchanan, the Boston-based organization boasts a national membership with a roster including Rick Bayless (Frontera Grill in Chicago), John Ash (when John Ash founded John Ash & Co. in the California Wine Country 20 years ago, it was one of the first to serve a market-based menu), Traci des Jardins (Jardinière in San Francisco) and Jody Adams (Rialto in Cambridge, MA). Chefs Collaborative is open to everyone, and if you care about the bigger issues behind what you eat — like biodiversity in the kitchen, or how restaurants can change communities — check them out. Membership is affordable and meaningful. If you love to cook, love to eat, or want to learn something new, consider joining them today.

Chef's Collaborative Restaurant Guide

On their website you'll find listed the names of the member restaurants. To see the California members, click here.



Local Farmers Markets:

Santa Monica Certified Farmers Market
Wednesday, 9 a.m.-1:30 p.m., Arizona Ave & 2nd St.
Saturday, 8:30 a.m.-1 p.m., Arizona Ave & 3rd St.
Saturday, 8 a.m.-1 p.m., 2200 Virginia Ave.
Sunday, 9:30 a.m.-1 p.m., Main St. & Ocean Park Blvd.

RadishesChat up a celebrity chefs and buy an armload of dandelion greens. During tomato season the variety of heirlooms is overwhelming. When you see the endless stacks of artichokes and asparagus, and piles of avocados, there's no question you are in California. Year-round there is so much to choose from, so many decisions to make, maybe it's a good idea to ask the farmer what to make for dinner. In addition to mountains of produce, including ethnic specialties, you'll encounter all types of sprout, avocado, dried fruit and nuts. Cheeses, breads, eggs, tamales. . .popcorn, anyone? And don't forget to surprise someone with flowers.

The Hollywood Farmers Market
Sundays 8 a.m.-1p.m.
Ivar and Selma Ave. between Hollywood and Sunset Blvd.

The place to be on a sunny Sunday morning. Deliciously sweet organic avocados, strawberries, asparagus, all sorts of lettuce and amazingly low prices! Good flower selection. Good bread and fabulous tamales (e.g. pumpkin for breakfast).

Larchmont Village Certified Farmers' Market
Larchmont Blvd, between Beverly Blvd. and First St.
Sundays 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
It's small but pretty and European-style; a gem for shopping and people-watching.

Find more Southern California farmers markets at www.farmernet.com

Find one nationwide through www.ams.usda.gov/statesummaries, the nationwide directory of The Agricultural Marketing Service of the US Department of Agriculture.

Want to cook with local ingredients? Check out Local Flavors: Cooking and Eating from America’s Farmers’ Markets

(Updated: 01/31/11 CT)

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