Chefs are more and more committed to developing tight connections with local producers to supply their restaurants. But what are the key factors for managing a locally-focused food chain? What are the challenges and how does the relationship between restaurants and producers impact communities and the economy at both local and national levels?
This was the subject of the Academy’s latest seminar, through which we sought answers through the experiences of two renowned chefs – Ana Roš and current Young Chef Sage Manu Buffara. Roš and Buffara have both forged strong relationships with local producers on the way to creating highly personal cuisines that have seen them lauded by the gastronomic world.
Roš is the chef patron of Hiša Franko restaurant, in Kobarid, Slovenia. Nestled in the beautiful Soča valley, the restaurant offers a zero-kilometre cuisine working with the region’s best producers. It was recently awarded two stars in the country’s first-ever Michelin Guide.
Buffara’s eponymous restaurant, Manu, in her hometown of Curitiba, Brazil, is similarly locally focused. She works closely with farmers and producers, making her restaurant a vital link in the local food chain, whilst also helping to preserve the region’s rich biodiversity.
The seminar started with presentations from both chefs, during which they shared their stories and experiences, both speaking of the symbiotic relationship between chef and producer and the responsibility of “rock star” chefs, in Roš’s words, to make producers stars too.
The presentations were followed by a discussion and live Q&A with Academy members, during which both chefs shared their tips for establishing relationships with local producers, which include never haggling, and entering into a “schooling process” to ensure the producer can adapt to your needs. “I believe respect for the farmer starts with never discussing the price,” said Roš.
Both also talked about how they’ve been supporting their producers during the pandemic, which for Buffara has included selling boxes of leftover produce and helping to link producers with the big supermarkets. “The producers are smart and have been making connections,” she said. Ana Roš started to bring the work of her suppliers – that were unable to export their products due to Covid restrictions – to the mass market, creating ready-to-eat recipes in her kitchen to sell through the Slovenian retail chain Tuš.
This latest seminar is an example of how the Academy is supporting its goal of nurturing the next generation of young chefs through its educational program, whilst connecting young chefs with the most influential figures in global gastronomy. Seminars are available exclusively to members via the Academy’s private Facebook group.
Ana Roš photo credit: Robert Ribič