Executive Chef Bill Whitfield (r.) prepared sample dishes and helped pass out locally grown CSA products at Parkhurst's Dining Site at Dick's Sporting Goods.
Parkhurst Dining Services is upping the ante in the general industry-wide move to embrace "local sourcing." The company already maintains relationships with local producers in the markets it serves through its FarmSource program (see the cover story in the October 2006 issue for more).
Now it is working with community supported agriculture (CSA) growers to bring local product to its business dining customers.
CSAs make consumers "shareholders" in local farms. In the standard CSA contract, consumers pay (either in a lump sum before the growing season or in weekly or monthly installments) for a specific "basket" of goods grown on the farm. The arrangements help keep farmers financially viable by giving them a revenue stream up front, while their customers get a supply of fresh product just after it is harvested.
Parkhurst's role is to facilitate arrangements between farmers it meets through its FarmSource networking and client employees at its business dining locations, and to provide a convenient venue for delivery of the prepurchased goods.
"As members of the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture, we had the opportunity to speak to smaller farmers who showed an interest in being involved with us, but their farm was too small to fit into our FarmSource program," explains Jamie Moore, Parkhusrt's dining services director of sourcing and sustainability.
"This is a great opportunity to have these farmers deliver their product to the location source through the CSA model, while creating opportunity for our clients' employees to receive weekly baskets of fresh food for their use in their homes."
At an event held in late June at Dick's Sporting Goods in Pittsburgh, three CSA farmers were on hand to make deliveries and interact with Dick's employees. Parkhurst Executive Chef Bill Whitfield contributed to the event by hosting a cooking class where recipe techniques and ideas using products from one of the participating farms, Cherry Valley Organics, was demonstrated.
Whitfield used Cherry Valley's mixed salad greens, kale, beet greens, microgreens, scallions, black raspberries, currants and edible flowers to create a series of dishes. They included Mixed Green Salad with Currants and Feta, Black Raspberry Vinaigrette (see recipe), Moroccan Beet Green Salad and Roasted Potatoes, Shallots and Kale With Caramelized Garlic Dressing.
Black Raspberry Vinaigrette
YIELD: 2 cups
1 cup salad oil
1⁄3 cup white balsamic vinegar
1⁄3 cup honey
1⁄3 cup black raspberries
salt and white pepper
Place all ingredients in a blender and puree until well combined. Adjust seasoning and honey to taste.
Recipe by Bill Whitfield (r.), executive chef, Parkhurst Dining Services.