Slow Food Nation

Eco-friendly chefs take eating well to a whole new level

By Amy Zavatto

Hugo Matheson and Kimbal Musk
Chefs and owners, The Kitchen
Boulder, CO
When Hugo Matheson says, “I’m not the most motivated person,” you truly should not believe him. Since he and Kimbal Musk opened The Kitchen three years ago, they’ve served three meals a day, seven days a week at the 80-seat eatery—an exhausting schedule for estauranteurs of any stripe. But the two are also committed to using the very best sustainable, local sources, and while it might save time to, say, condense suppliers, you won’t find either of them doing this. Anytime. Ever. Local sourcing is the driving force behind The Kitchen. But their commitment doesn’t stop there. They recycle fryer oil into biodiesel, use biodegradable straws and paper products, and get their electricity via wind power. Sure, taking these steps can add extra dollars to The Kitchen’s bill every month, but Matheson believes it saves so much more
in the end: “The big question I always ask myself is: What is the true cost of food?"

Tony Maws
Chef and Owner, Craigie Street Bistrot
Cambridge, MA
They say you can never go home again, but after cooking everywhere from Singapore to Santa Fe, Tony Maws knew the only place he wanted to open his French bistro was back in his hometown of Boston. At the same time, sustainability and local sourcing were important. The result is a menu that changes daily depending on what ingredients are freshest, best, and closest to home, like organic carrots grown in sandy New England soil, which Maws insists are the most delicious on the planet. “I don’t spend money on pomp and circumstance; I spend it on, say, the best lamb you can have,” he says. His meats are all-natural and hormone-free, and about 80 percent of his wine list comes from small, sustainable vineyards. “There’s something really important about terroir and place, and we’re not afraid to stand on a soapbox and say we believe in that.”

Barb LaVigne and George Wilkes
Owners, The Angry Trout Café
Grand Marais, MN
Their proximity to the shore of Lake Superior allows Barb LaVigne and George Wilkes to get lake herring, trout, and whitefish fresh daily, and serve it grilled, fried, or smoked in this 50-seat spot, which has been serving diners since 1978. Their menu also includes locally raised pork, chicken, and sweet corn, as well as organic Minnesota wild rice, but the two source more than their food locally: all of their electricity comes from wind; their organic cotton linens are sewn by a local seamstress; and they are members of the community-supported agriculture farm. Says Wilkes,  “We take a total view of everything that we use or waste."

Dave Tallent
Chef and Co-Owner, Restaurant Tallent
Bloomington, IN
Being midwesterners, chef Dave Tallent and his wife, pastry chef Kristen Tallent, were all too aware of the irony spreading across their home state of Indiana. You can drive for miles and see one of two things: acres upon acres of farmland, or strip malls featuring fast food. So when they opened their farm-focused eatery in 2003, they wanted to do more than make good food: They wanted to encourage local farmers to contribute. Their menu boasts locally raised produce, duck, lamb, and beef, and Tallent made a deal with area farms to keep growing and supplying him year-round by using naturally heated greenhouses. Those relationships have benefited both the restaurant and the growers. “Now they ask what I’d like and they’ll say, ‘I used to grow that and no one bought it…’ It’s pretty cool!"

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