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.