by Wendy Lemlin
Diners, start your appetite engines! The race to experience local and sustainable restaurant dining is approaching the starting gate.
On January 14, the inaugural San Diego Farm to Fork Week kicks off, aimed at introducing the public to a community of small independent farm to table restaurants, as well as the local—key word, here— family farmers, producers, and purveyors who provide the high quality ingredients used by these restaurants. San Diego Farm to Fork Week takes a page from San Diego Restaurant Week, with which it runs concurrently, but gives participating kitchens more autonomy in what they present and how it is priced. Each restaurant is free to determine its own dining discounts or prix fixe menu. But more importantly, Farm to Fork Week focuses on the chefs’ sourcing of ingredients from local farmers they know and trust, as well as verifying that participating chefs and restaurants are in fact buying from the local producers they claim to be. So when someone chooses to dine at a Farm to Fork Week partner restaurant, they know that they’re keeping their food dollars in San Diego, supporting farm families and their workers and reducing their contribution to greenhouse gas emissions by lowering the number of miles food travels to the plate.
The week long event was founded by Trish Wattlington, owner of The Red Door in Mission Hills, as not only a celebration of the region’s outstanding farms, chefs and dining destinations, but as a chance for diners to try new restaurants at affordable prices. When asked about any conflict with San Diego Restaurant Week, organizer Watlington emphasizes that Farm to fork Week was conceived with a different purpose. “Some of us have participated in San Diego Restaurant Week in the past, and some of us are still participating this year. But, for most of us, the cost of Restaurant Week is just too high, while at the same time, the pressure to lower our prices to compete that week is strong, and we operate at such tight margins, that for may of us, it is untenable. We joined together to find a way to promote what WE do – support and showcase local farms, at a time when we most need to do it. And, as planning has progressed we’ve all come to the realization that Farm to Fork week actually has amazing possibilities.”
The long term plan for Farm to Fork Week is to work with local sponsors to eventually enlarge the event to include such components as dinners, tours, events, lectures and panel discussions, and to verify that participating restaurants are buying from local farmers. A directory of locally sustainable restaurants, farmers and producers is in the works, too.
A list of participating restaurants and producers, as well as all detailed info and menus can be found here
Farm to Fork Week Events:
January 14th – Kickoff Hog Roast at BIGA San Diego
January 15-22 – Dining Discounts in Participating Restaurants
January 21st – Wine Tasting and Book Signing at BAR by Red Door
January 22nd – Farmers, Friends and Fishermen Collaboration with Chef Miguel Valdez at Red Door and Chef Coral Fodor Strong from Garden Kitchen.
All week – Partner Farm and Restaurant Tours with Epicurean San Diego
Farm to Fork Week Supporters:
Slow Food Urban San Diego
San Diego Food System Alliance
The Berry Good Food Foundation