Library Notes: Local Roots + Local Farms [February 2017]

Written by Sara Quiroz
ICC Librarian

In this edition of library notes, we will highlight some selections from Local Roots Founder and Friend of the Library, Wen-Jay Ying. Do you know about Local Roots NYC? It is a CSA or community supported agriculture connecting New Yorkers with fresh produce and other goodies from local farms. We have a pick up location right here at ICC! When Wen-Jay isn’t trekking up to farms, maintaining the super fun social profiles or producing her radio show, Food Stripped Naked she sometimes does her admin work right out of the ICC library! If you want to bring a #soiltocity perspective into your own kitchen, check out her recommended reading list below, all available for circulation here in the library.

photosbyarielle-100
The Food Lab by J.Kenji Lopez-Alt

Last year’s James Beard Award Winner, this book covers just about anything and everything in the culinary world. With essential techniques, ingredient advice and tasty, very well tested recipes it could easily be your only cookbook. It also makes an excellent starter for new homecooks but still has the science and test kitchen detail to intrigue seasoned chefs. Wen-Jay particularly loves that he explains both how and why various food preparations work.

The Food Substitutions Bible by David Joachim

This guide contains simple substitutions for any ingredient, equiptment or technique you may be missing from Atemoya to a zester. This book is important to Wen-Jay because sometimes trying to cook with only local ingredients can make recipes feel confining, but learning the substitutions can give you more flexibility in the kitchen and empower you to be a versatile chef with your Local Roots NYC produce.  “Cooking does not need high-end appliances or an infinite supply of spices or specific vegetable varieties. Let your taste buds and this book guide you to be more flexible in the kitchen, “ said Wen-Jay.

The Frugal Colonial Housewife by Susannah Carter

This book is also one of my favorites and a fun glimpse into the past through food. It was the first truly American cookbook published in the colonies, back when everyone was trying to recreate British style cooking. Carter introduced local ingredients which new arrivals from England weren’t familiar with such as pumpkin and corn. Something unique you will notice is that the style of writing recipes was very different. They offer vague ingredient description (something green, a piece of meat) as it was difficult to produce specific items. The instruction is also much less detailed than we expect today, most women learned everything from their families and never needed written instruction on technique. Says Wen-Jay, “Love that Sara introduced me to this cookbook when interviewing her on my radio show! People used to cook with stripped down recipes because everyone had basic culinary skills and “farm to table” was the only way to cook.”

The Kitchen Ecosystem by Eugenia Bone
“LOCAL ROOTS NYC LOVES SUSTAINABLE COOKING! We recently hosted a cooking club because 85% of food waste happens on the consumer end between home chefs, restaurants, etc.” said Wen-Jay. If you find yourself in that very predicament, pick up the Kitchen Ecosystem. Bone explains sustainable meal planning and various ways to use every ingredient. For each item listed, she details how to prepare it fresh, how to preserve it and how to use scraps then lists several recipes for each incarnation. Organized by ingredient, The Kitchen Ecosystem covers produce, fish and meat with enough variations to suit every palate.

photosbyarielle-95

 

Setting the Table by Danny Meyer

For a guide on successfully providing excellent hospitality and to understand the success of Meyers ventures, check out Setting the Table. He lays out his philosophy of “enlightened hospitality” or connecting deeply with customers through small details, creating a nurturing work culture and building community. Says Wen-Jay, “At Local Roots NYC, we believe that constantly reimagining our food system is necessary for its longevity. We’ve reimagined the traditional CSA model and continue to mature and mo It brings us joy to show appreciation to our customers and have built meaningful relationships with our customers and producers with some practices mentioned in this book.”
The Unsettling of America by Wendell Berry

Wen-Jay considers this seminal text her bible and tries to read some every morning. This book was the inspiration for much of the Local Roots value system. Barry considers good farming to be a cultural development and a spiritual discipline. Says Wen-Jay, “He emphasizes the importance of regional systems, making decisions not based on short term needs but long term commitments, and makes parallels between the health of farms with the vitality in life.”

How did you like our guest contributor? Who else would you like to see a reading list from, contact Sara the Librarian with your suggestions squiroz@culinarycenter.com and follow the library on Instagram for more @IntlCulLibrary

Local Roots NYC + The Farm-to-Table Experience

Here at the International Culinary Center, we offer the Farm-to-Table extension to our Culinary program. If you are interested in local foods, farming and sustainability, this could be a great option for you. To be a Farm-to-Table chef, one must first be an excellent chef. Everyone we work with emphasizes this, the primary objective is to build the skills and techniques necessary for success in a professional kitchen. With Farm-to-Table, in addition to these essential classes, we offer a series of enrichment activities throughout your time at ICC. While they take a slightly different form each session as the local food movement grows and evolves, they always include field trips, lectures and events with fascinating innovators in the field.

We recently had one such talk from Wen-Jay Ying, founder of Local Roots CSA. What is Local Roots? Local Roots has re-imaging the traditional CSA model to fit the needs of everyday New Yorkers and created a new food system within the city. The ordering process is very simple and available online. Pickups are at various bars, cafes and workplaces throughout the city (Including ICC! Stop by the library if you would like to join!) and most importantly, the company is driven by core values and focused on community building.

During her talk, Wen-Jay invited our Farm-to-Table group to spend some time reflecting upon what each of them holds as a core value system and we then spent time discussing it afterward. This is a useful exercise for any chef who is just starting out. Wen-Jay shared the Local Roots value statement and guided our group through developing their own.  We reflected on questions such as What is your value system as a chef? and What solution do you offer to our food system or dining culture? The answers were as diverse as our group, some focused on education of children, some on health and others on bringing joy and creativity through dining. “Write these down, and keep them with you,” said Wen-Jay, “Because once you are out in industry, it’s so easy to have a hard day where you feel like giving up but you have to remember your motivation and why you started.”

This is excellent advice, perhaps even the key to longevity in the kitchen and a sustainable career. Local Roots pick up is available at ICC every Tuesday afternoon. You can sign up in the library or check here for more info: http://localrootsnyc.org/

farm-to-table students

Professional Culinary Arts + Farm-To-Table

ICC’s Culinary Arts + Farm-To-Table program does more than give our students a competitive edge in the marketplace—it provides firsthand insight to this powerful movement and builds on your chef training. By exploring how food is grown, raised, packaged and distributed, you’ll gain a better understanding of how quality ingredients make it to the kitchen and be better able to make informed choices for your own dishes. ICC’s Farm-To-Table program will forever change the way you think about the link between food production and the way we eat.

fatm-to-table veggies

Take Your Learning Outside the Classroom

Whether you attend our New York or California campus, your farm-to-table learning will extend beyond the classroom to include field trips to local farms, markets, and more. You’ll get your hands in the dirt, learning about local farming and sustainable agriculture from experts on the front lines of the industry.

In New York: Participate in the Farm-Powered Kitchen Program

Students at our New York campus will have the unique opportunity to participate in our seven-day Farm-Powered Kitchen program. Designed by Dan Barber (ICC grad and James Beard Outstanding Chef), Blue Hill, and Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, the Farm-Powered Kitchen program builds on the foundational knowledge gained in the classroom by exposing students to all aspects of the farm.

In California: Come Face-to-Face with Farming

One of the early leaders in the farm-to-table movement, California supplies almost half of the country’s fruits and vegetables—making it the perfect place for passionate students to come face-to-face with farming like never before. Located near Salinas Valley, one of The Golden State’s most productive agricultural regions, ICC’s one-of-a-kind program gives students incredible access to large-scale commercial operations, artisan farms, ranches, dairies and markets. With dynamic field trips and opportunities to pick the brains of farm workers, ranchers, policymakers and other experts, the Culinary Arts + Farm-To-Table program prepares students to become the next leaders in the sustainable culinary field.

Advance Your Culinary Career at ICC

If you’re interested in farm-to-table cuisine or want to expand your culinary knowledge to gain a competitive edge, enroll in the Culinary Arts + Farm-To-Table program at our New York or California campus, or complete the form on this page to get more information.