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Roger Mooking, a restaurateur, chef and host and co-creator of an internationally broadcasted television show Everyday Exotic, was a guest at “Growing the Food Continuum Conference” organized by the Workforce Planning Board of Waterloo, Wellington and Dufferin. Here are some things he spoke about that farmers might find useful.
- Mooking repeated over and over again that chefs become bored very fast. They appreciate being introduced to new produce that can inspire unique dishes. Farmers growing niche produce should take advantage of this and start networking with passionate chefs.
- Customers at restaurants like to hear the story of where the food comes from, but taste in the end is most important. Because taste for the customer is most important and customers drive the business, this quality is also vital for the chef.
- In addition to taste, consistency is the second most important characteristic that Mooking looks for when buying from a farmer or distributor. This is one of the reasons why he does not buy from a large number of farmers. If chefs buy from more farmers, they are risking the consistency.
When asked at the conference about what solution he can pose to the ‘problem’ of inconsistence, Mooking claims there has to be a balance between the farmers’ story, consistence and quality. For my experience with farmers, the problem is not with the vegetables or the farmers, it is with the public. The average person is not well educated about where food comes from or how it is grown. As a result, people formulate unrealistic expectations of food. A more educated public will be an immense step forward towards a more sustainable food system.