Chefs of Ariccia at the Auburn University Hotel and Conference Center have begun to attend the weekly farmers market at Ag Heritage Park to gather food for Farm-to-Table menu.
The food is prepared the day it is bought and is served as a suggested option to customers on Thursday nights. The chefs also use the foods from the market throughout the week.
Miguel Figueroa, Chef de Cuisine, said each week he attends the farmers market and picks up usual items like goat cheese and then scans each booth for new items that could enhance the menu like cinnamon-raisin bread.
After purchasing the items, the chefs begin to brainstorm and create the Farm-to-Table meal.
Farm-to-Table is a national nonprofit organization that aims to promote local businesses and bring fresh food to the public.
The chefs heard about this idea and decided they wanted to be involved.
Each week a three-course meal is added to the menu for the night, only consisting of locally- grown foods.
“The fruit and produce has a much better taste after being on the tree longer,” said Judy Hale of Burnette Farms.
According to Hale, most nonlocal foods are picked while they are still green and travel for days or weeks to get to where they need to go.
Most of the farmers at the market pick their foods the morning of the market.
One of the regular items the chefs buy is goat cheese from Bulger Creek Farm. Farmers milk the goats only two days before the market to give the utmost fresh taste.
Last week, the menu’s appetizer included a honey and goat cheese mixture served with homemade toasted cinnamon- raisin bread, also bought at the market.
Andrew Litherland, chef at Ariccia, said buying locally is the right thing to do. The food tastes better, which is better for the restaurant business, and it helps the local farmers increase their business.
Local farmers, Judy Hale of Burnette Farms, said the chefs give great insight into new ways to cook their foods.
“The chefs gave me the idea to grill peaches and it was wonderful,” Hale said.
A few weeks ago, Figueroa and Litherland set up a cooking station at the market, and all the farmers congregated to learn new ways to use their foods.
The chefs said they would like to do that again and plan to in the near future.
“We love the products, and the farmers have been very helpful,” Figueroa said.
The farm to table meals can be purchased for $34 at Ariccia every Thursday night.
Starting July 14, Farm-to-Table meals will be available every night until September 29.
“It is a really reasonable price,” said Sara Barkley, waitress at Ariccia.
Before each Farm-to-Table meal is served, the server informs the customer of the locally-grown dishes available to them that evening.
“You can tell the food is fresh, and has been picked recently and tastes light,” Barkley said.