Three-thousand miles. It's a great distance for someone to uproot, though many of my friends have move further throughout their lives. It's a vest personal and cultural adjustment for one to make. For a person, it involves leaving comfort, family and friends. For a chef, it involves leaving behind all the purveyors and markets that you came to love and trust. Luckily for me, I had time-a-plenty to do my research before leaving the West Coast. By the time I arrived here in Charlotte, I'd already located my local farmers markets, international food suppliers, gourmet stores and kitchen supply companies. Actually find my way to their doors was an entirely different matter, as Charlotte doesn't have the benefit of Portland's superb urban planning.
Mid-February I'll be attending The Flavors of Carolina, an event for culinary professionals that has been set up at roving locations all over North and South Carolina since 1986. The North Carolina Department of Agriculture lovingly brings all sides of the regional food service community together for a few hours of cocktails and entertainment while we taste state-specific products. Who knows what hidden gems will be uncovered at this event? Personally, I'm hoping to find a few more local cheese producers (the more, the merrier in my mind.) Perhaps to try some of the much-maligned regional wine (It's wine, can it be THAT bad?). More than anything, networking with these artisans will bring me closer to understanding the state of the culinary union in my new home.
Already I've had the fortune to work with and purchase from, some very down to earth, friendly and talented individuals that are working their collective asses off to change the way people view food in Charlotte. Proffit Family Beef. Harmony Gardens. Grateful Growers. Rosemary Pete. Boucom's Best. Farside Farms. Spinning Spider Cheese. These humans are amazing. They believe thoroughly in what they do, and why they do it. Respect and our patronage is all that we owe them. It's required. I have their products at home and in the restaurant, literally eating and breathing their work.
Enough about the local-local-local-local.
I'm finally about to add some photographs to the mix here. Here's to hoping pictures can do the writing some justice. Gonna bring in pictures of the burgeoning backyard garden, the farms, the restaurant, the food, the people.
Keep eating like you give a damn (but don't be a silly vegan).
See you soon