- July 21st, 2011
- Comments Off on Chef Derrick at Green City Market
Local food sources, when given proper respect, can be the lifeblood of a community. In fact, the earliest days of “city planning” was merely a collection of people that gathered near, and lived around a marketplace. Times do certainly change the landscape, but, as with Chicago’s city markets, the core values have never changed. In our bustling cityscape it’s easy to forget about the far stretches of fertile land that supply us citygoers with nutritious crops from the earth. Furthermore, the farmers and families that care, nurture, and gather the fruits of the land are of the upmost importance, and these are not things to be taken for granted. We work directly with the dedicated, kind people that harvest these foods to put a healthy, satisfying meal on your plate. So to better understand how the market helps us on a weekly basis, I took a trip with Chef to one of Chicago’s largest and most well known markets..
Chef Derrick goes to the Green City Market
Our story begins around midnight – before anyone is at the market, and few are thinking about food, work, or much other than the full night’s rest that lies ahead. Meanwhile, in La Crosse, Wisconsin, Al from the Nordic Creamery is just waking up for a drive to Chicago. Running on only 2 hours of sleep, he makes the 5 hour drive to Chicago to arrive in Lincoln Park just as the sun begins to peeks over the lake. This is the market life for many vendors like Al from throughout the Midwest. They travel from far and wide to bring their goods to the city and hopefully make enough profit to keep their families and businesses afloat.
8 a.m. Chef Derrick DeJaynes starts his day in the kitchen on Southport. While managing a small checklist of morning responsibilities, he makes a few sandwiches for our steadfast vendors – who won’t have much time during their busy work day to eat.. Chef doesn’t always make it to the market, so the friendly gesture of a small meal acts as a token of appreciation for the times he’s not there.. This week, his creation is not something off of our menu, but a delicious construct of egg, ham, maple/mustard glazed apricots, arugula and mayo on grilled challah bread.. a sweet and savory surprise for hungry and deserving farmers.
A little after 9 a.m. we take a pleasant morning drive down the lake shore and into the park. Al, our restless dairyman, is among our first stop at the market, and has our cheese ready. A few quick jokes are shared as we also talk with Dave from Leaning Shed Farms who’s quick to point out his latest harvest of garlic scapes, the flowering stalks that grow from the bulbs.. we grab a dozen or so that will be used in our summer canning project. I check out a neat looking plant with purple fruit budding alongside small white flowers. I’m told by our farmer friend that it is an Aurora Pepper plant and that I should take one for our garden. We pay, gather our goods, leave a couple sandwiches (including one for Al’s son – who seems to need one following the long night of travel) and head across the park for some more freshly grown goods.
As 10 o’clock rolls around we’re headed to the Genesis Growers (from downstate – St. Anne, Il) stand where our standing order of 10 heads of baby lettuce is waiting. Chef and farmer Vicki discuss the failing cauliflower and broccoli stalks that are giving into the recent heat wave. Fortunately, the majority of the farms other crops have been thriving. We grab our box of produce and head to the next tent over, Mick Klug Farms, a Michigan outfit that raises mostly sweet crops.. namely apricots, sweet corn, sweet and sour cherries, blackberries and raspberries, among others. Here we pick up a bounty of blueberries for our summertime Blueberry Salad (w/blueberry vinaigrette.. yeah, we love us some blueberries!), as well as cherries and apricots that will be included in our canning/preserves project that will hit our shelves later this summer. The Klug folks were about as excited about Derrick’s sandwich as we were their fruit! Most certainly a win-win. One last quick stop by North Judson, Indiana’s Green Acres Farm camp for a couple of pounds of arugula before finding a great mid-morning snack from Las Manas Tamales.
Heading out of the market we caught a glimpse of Chef Rick Bayless giving an interview and setting up for a presentation.
After loading up the van – it’s a quick ride through the city back to the cafe. Everything goes into our big fridge downstairs, and the garden-fresh eatables wait to become a tasty addition to one of our many signature dishes. Derrick plants the pepper plant as his day comes to a close.. a proper homage and fitting end to our day at the market.
Stay tuned to our blog as we’ll unfold some of the projects that are relevant to our farmer friends, including the canning project that will feature some of those delicious fresh fruits.