A Love Letter to Our Local Farmers

August 24, 2015
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Bill Cherry of Bear Creek Farms. Image courtesy of The Southern

Show a Little Love

Shake the Hand that Feeds You! We love our local farmers and want to do all we can to support them. Slicing into that ripe red tomato, sprinkling plump berries over a bowl of yogurt or simmering a big pot of greens fills us with gratitude.

This is real food, fresh as it gets, grown in our community by people we could actually meet. People who put in long hours and hard labor, nurturing seeds to harvest. And, who do this facing the variables of heat, drought, freezes, floods, pests, and blight. Despite all that, the benefits are boundless. Think about healthful delicious eating in harmony with the seasons. And how it supports families. A local economy. The greater good.

Local, Sustainable, Consistently Excellent

Throughout Nashville and the region, independent chefs and restaurateurs have become avid supporters of local farmers and producers. Because of a restaurant’s volume, it can have more impact. We spoke with Matt Farley, executive chef of the TomKats Hospitality Group about this importance. Working with owner Tom Morales, he is in charge of the menus for The Southern Steak and Oyster, The Southernaire, and ACME Feed and Seed.

Image courtesy of The Southern

Why source locally?
As a company, we want to employ green practices. Sourcing local, sustainable ingredients is a key part. We try throughout all our ventures to be as involved with the community as possible. Buying local is an extension of that. It’s a way to support those
who support us.  

How does the history of the Acme building intersect with the local food movement today?
Acme was not a big box store owned by a huge corporation. It was locally owned and operated mainly serving the needs of local people; selling feed, seed, chickens and many other things related to self-sustaining households. This to me is a very powerful image when you think about it. In repurposing the building, Tom saw the value of having a retail market area where customers could purchase all local products. You’ll find our sauces, seasonings and preserves along with goods from other producers, such as TruBee Honey, Nashville Jam and Olive and Sinclair Chocolate.  

Can you tell us about one of the farmers you work with?
We use the grassfed-grain finished beef from Bear Creek Farm in Williamson County at all of our restaurants. They raise the cattle humanely. No steroids or hormones either. It is consistently excellent—dry aged and full-flavored. Their ground beef makes a great burger. At The Southern, we serve their strip steaks at brunch and specialty cuts occasionally on the Nudie Suit board for dinner.

Could you share a favorite dish from one of the TomKats restaurants that features a local product? What’s the inspiration?
That would have to be the MY WAY pasta with Willow Farm Eggs at The Southern. I have to give Tom Morales credit for the inspiration. I used to make a pasta dish for myself in the kitchen that had noodles, pancetta, egg, parmesan with a dash of hot sauce—a variation of Spaghetti a la Carbonara. When I was writing The Southern menu, Tom said he had wanted to include a pasta dish with goat cheese. So I combined the ideas and came up with what has become a classic at The Southern: Linguine in brown butter with bacon lardons, pine nuts, goat cheese and Willow Farm eggs.

Image courtesy of The Southern

About Matt Farley, Executive Chef of TomKats Hospitality Group

Matt Farley started cooking at the young age of 17 in upstate New York before moving to Manhattan in 1995. After learning the ropes and honing his chops in the kitchens of many restaurants, he enrolled at the French Culinary Institute. Following that, he became the executive chef of Noho Star, a position he held for seven years.

As passionate a musician as he is a chef, Farley was drawn to Nashville by its vibrant music scene and evolving culinary landscape. In 2009, he moved his family from New York, and began a long collaboration with Tom Morales on an array of projects, commencing with the Loveless Café. He has since designed creative accessible menus for The Southern Steak & Oyster, ACME Feed & Seed, and most recently, The Southernaire. While each establishment has its own persona, all are dedicated to supporting local and regional products

About Bear Creek Farm

For over 30 years, the Cherry Family has been raising Black Angus cattle on 1400 acres near Leipers Fork in Williamson County. Bear Creek Farm is a Certified Humane Farm. The animals freely graze on the land, or eat hay grown on the farm for most their lives. They are hormone, steroid and antibiotic free. The Cherry’s add grain to their diet for the last 120 days. This enhances marbling and tenderness. Unlike most commercial meat, Bear Creek Farm beef is dry-aged, which intensifies the flavor. It has also been continually graded Prime. LeeAnn and Bill Cherry strive for high standards of quality over volume.

LeeAnn and Bill Cherry
3515 Gray Lane, Thompson Station, TN 37179
Franklin Farmers Market every Saturday behind The Factory
Fresh Harvest Coop weekly subscription ordering // Wednesday pick up

About Willow Egg Farm

Rhode Island Reds, Red Comets and White Leghorns roam free on this family farm in Summertown Tennessee. Egg Farmers Jerry and Marsha Hobgood raise happy hens, giving them plenty of fresh air, green grass, bugs and seed. This good life makes their eggs especially flavorful, with deeply colored yolks. No antibiotics or steroids are ever used on the flock, nor are chemicals used on the pasture.

(931) 629-5299
Jerry & Marsha Hobgood
91 N Old Military Road Summertown, TN 38483

Article from Edible Nashville at http://ediblenashville.ediblecommunities.com/food-thought/love-letter-our-local-farmers
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