Farm to Table ‘Think global and source local’ is the buzzword these days in the culinary world.

Farm-Dining-at-JW-Marriott-Mussoorie-Walnut-Grove-Resort-&-Spa
Farm Dining at JW Marriott Mussoorie Walnut Grove Resort and Spa.

Farm-to-table’ or ‘farm-to-fork’ is the philosophy that embraces a sustainable approach to agriculture and dining. The concept is simple: there is value in consuming local, high quality, organic produce and seasonal products than opting for expensive imports.

A conscientious individual termed as a ‘locavore’ makes a conscious effort to prepare/eat food produced locally. He follows a 40-mile approach, wherein fresh vegetables and fruits grown within the vicinity are used to create rich and flavourful dishes. Meats and seafood are also freshly utilised, available from nearby farms or the sea shore. More important, this approach is used to retain the natural character and freshness of the ingredients to be in harmony with nature.

The main advantage is that the products are bereft of any chemicals needed for long-term storage. Here the products are harvested just before sale and preferably sold directly by the farmers in the market.

Exec-Chef-Anurudh-Khanna-handpicking-fresh-produce-at-Utkarsh-Farm
Executive Chef Anurudh Khanna handpicking fresh produce at Utkarsh Farm.

Farm-to-table restaurants take on the ‘locavore’s philosophy’ as their guiding principle. These establishments partner with nearby farms and local food producers to offer diners a seasonal menu with a strong local community and sustainability connection.

“Eating locally means eating seasonally,” says Anurudh Khanna, Executive Chef, The Westin Pune Koregaon Park. He adds, “We started with the concept of ‘farm-to-table’ at The Westin Pune last year by collaborating with farmers near our hotel.” They tied up with a couple of farmers around Pune; one being Utkarsh Farms, around 25 km away. Working along with the farmers on their requirements, he managed to get the farm to grow exotic vegetables that were earlier imported by him. “Often, these experiments were not a success because of the weather and soil composition but we kept trying and were able to achieve good results,” he says.

The products are bereft of any chemicals needed for long-term storage as they are harvested just before sale and preferably sold directly by the farmers in the market.

“For example, we tried growing green asparagus, Romenseco broccoli, fresh artichokes, Israeli artichokes, fresh edamame beans and multiple varieties of tomatoes. This also inspired us to create seasonal menus at our restaurants, changing the menu every 3–4 months.”

Soleil by La Plage is a Sula Vineyards’ french restaurant that specialises in ‘farm-to-fork’ dining, and is a union of Sula with La Plage that offers ‘farm-to fork’ dining experience at the vineyards. The Soleil’s menu includes the popular La Plage classics, along with Chef Morgan’s take on some of the more timeless Indian dishes. One of the most defining concepts of Soleil is the generous use of the farm’s own organic ingredients and produce like asparagus, goat’s cheese, free-range chicken, etc in its dishes.

From the Western Ghats to Himalayas, this concept connects guests and locals and is seen as an excellent way to support the local community.

Young-Yellow-Cherry-Tomatoes
Yellow cherry tomatoes.

Executive Chef Sunil Kumar at the JW Marriott Mussoorie Walnut Grove Resort and Spa says he offers a unique experience to his guests, “at our farm overlooking the Himalayas. We are the caretakers of a rustic farm adjacent to our resort where we grow vegetables and herbs for our kitchen and offer an organic meal to our guests in the scenic ambience of the Himalayas. Besides sourcing vegetable and herbs directly from the farm, we also get our produce from the locals of Mussoorie.”

The resort gets walnuts from the nearby villages of Bhatoli and ­Bungalow ki Kandi and the fruits placed in the guests’ rooms are grown and sourced locally. With the farm-to-table philosophy the hotel strives to help the communities where it operates.

Anupam Gulati, Executive Chef, Goa Marriott Resort and Spa follows a simple food philosophy when it comes to designing the menu, ‘Go Global Cook Local.’ On alternate days, the chefs and the hotel purchase team go and pick fresh vegetables from the local kitchen gardens across the city, which are then subjected to rigorous washing and cleaning before they reach that cutting board. “All our menus are revamped every four months in order to make the best of local produce; we even have separate sections supporting local produce via local cuisine. Buffets make the most of this daily receiving, as also the dish of the day,” he says.

Sourcing products from local purveyors is not exactly new. It has been there for sometime but the movement is definitely catching up now with chefs personally taking interest in promoting the philosophy.

Chef Gulati reminiscences, “When I was young my grandma used to have a small kitchen garden where she would grow the choicest of vegetables and fruits, nurture them and educate us on what is what. Then we plucked them every day as and when required. Though that didn’t make much sense then, now it does.”

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