Last week in Santa Fe, a who’s who of respected northern New Mexico chefs gathered at The Inn & Spa at Loretto to meet and network with local farmers, ranchers, food artisans, and organizations. The event was sponsored by the New Mexico chapter of the Chefs Collaborative, a national nonprofit dedicated to empowering chefs to build a better food system. Central to this mission is educating chefs and restaurants on the importance of sourcing from sustainable, ethical, and, whenever possible, local producers.
Chef Collaborative Local Leader and edible New Mexico publisher Stephanie Cameron told the crowd, “I know so many of you already put an extraordinary effort into sourcing local and working with your community. But, there definitely are some key areas that need to be addressed and defined by both chefs and farmers in order to get past only sourcing local ‘sometimes’ and when it is convenient. I believe the industry is finally hitting a critical mass—as evidenced here today—where chefs and farmers can start to support each other in a really meaningful way.”
As guests mingled, they enjoyed a delicious meal full of ingredients generously donated by local growers and producers, and prepared by Loretto’s executive chef Sean Sinclair. Dishes included Beck & Bulow Buffalo bison short ribs with Tamaya polenta and tacos featuring pork from Polk’s Folly Farm and Beneficial Farm and beef from Ranney Ranch. Vida Verde Farm provided bok choy and a selection of raw veggies for crudite topped with Old Monticello balsamic vinegar. Other bites include cheese from Bountiful Cow Cheese Company paired with Heidi’s Jam and proscuitto and bread from M’Tucci’s Italian Market. New Mexico Wine provided the beverages. Chef Sinclair said, “It’s an honor to be a part of this event and Chefs Collaborative. I’ve been an advocate of buying local a long time, and to see all these peers together it really shows the collective buying power we have. We can make a difference in our local economy and in the lives of our fellow New Mexicans.”
The event also featured an open mic segment in which the food producers could introduce themselves and their products. Some interesting newer additions to the local food scene included a snailer, Perle de Blanc, that is supplying local restaurants with escargot as well as snail caviar, and micro-green grower Urban Rebel Farms. Albuquerque vegetable farmer Seth Matlick of Vida Verde Farm said, “It’s really hard for a lot of small farms to go out and find new clients. We’re always busy in the field and chefs are always busy in the kitchen. I’m grateful to Stephanie and the Chefs Collaborative for putting this together and giving us the opportunity to expand our market and have some interesting conversations here tonight.”
The Chefs Collaborative’s slogan is “Change Menus, Change Lives.” Cameron says that she believes the New Mexico chapter can do just that through initiatives like this mixer, butchery workshops, food waste initiatives, and more. She says, “I’m hoping that today’s gathering ignites the conversation of sourcing local and puts that conversation into action.”
Learn more about the local New Mexico Chefs Collaborative chapter by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.