Connecting With Our Food

In 2009, I co-found­ed Bare Knuck­le Farm in North­port, MI. While learn­ing how to grow food, I host­ed a series of din­ners fea­tur­ing only the food from our gar­den, or from our neigh­bors’ fields. This expe­ri­ence for­ev­er changed the way I cook. Instead of dream­ing up the per­fect dish and buy­ing ingre­di­ents to suit my whims, I start­ed look­ing at what was around me and devel­op­ing cours­es to best show­case what was grow­ing in the gar­den. To con­vert our lim­it­ed cadre of fruits and veg­eta­bles into a myr­i­ad of dish­es that could excite folks at both meal­time, and when it came time for them to cook with those same ingre­di­ents.

When I decid­ed to move back to Chica­go and return to cook­ing full time, I want­ed to find  a kitchen that would allow me to con­tin­ue cook­ing food with a sto­ry, con­nect peo­ple to their food in inno­v­a­tive ways. Local Foods is that kitchen. 

The goal of Local Foods has always been to get Mid­west­ern farm­ers’ crops into the hands of region­al chefs and gro­cers eas­i­er and faster—making it more real­is­tic for all of us to buy, sell and eat local­ly. The role of the Pub­lic Mar­ket is to pro­vide that same ser­vice to fam­i­lies and indi­vid­u­als. Rob Levitt and Butch­er & Larder, the only sus­tain­able, whole ani­mal butch­er shop in Chica­go, pro­vides that for meat as well. Instead of buy­ing a case of kale from a small scale grow­er, you can buy a sin­gle bunch of it. Instead of buy­ing a whole cow, you can buy a sin­gle steak, chop, or shank. The dif­fer­ence in doing this with Local Foods, Stock, and Butch­er & Larder is that those rev­enues go straight back to small farms—not into indus­tri­al-scale sys­tems. Less is wast­ed, more is used.

Stock, the café with­in Local Foods, turns these crops into a meal you can either eat at the counter, or take home to serve. We strive to make sim­ply sat­is­fy­ing and sur­pris­ing­ly deli­cious meals that show off the best of our stock: 95% of the ingre­di­ents we use come from with­in Local Foods and Butch­er & Larder. 

Beyond what we bring you from our menu, we, as chefs, are avail­able to you to answer ques­tions and help you cook bet­ter at home. Our kitchen is open (lit­er­al­ly), and we encour­age you to bring us your shop­ping bas­kets and ask us how to cook from what you want to buy. 

Food is, above all else, about peo­ple. The peo­ple who grow it, the peo­ple who stock our shelves and cut your meat, and you. We all need to eat—and by work­ing togeth­er we can make eat­ing local­ly easy and excit­ing. We hope you enjoy your meal, revere your foods’ sources, learn, and grow. Con­nect­ing with our food con­nects us with each oth­er.