By Barbara L. Vergetis Lundin, Assistant Editor
The summer of 2016 promises to be a delicious one for New York City, with a focus on local sourcing and transparency.
As the demand for transparency of the food supply chain continues and more consumers become aware of what their food contains and where it is coming from, sourcing is becoming more and more important.
“Supporting local agriculture in our region in the warmer months is simple to do,” said Barbara L. Callanan, president of JCB Consulting Services. “The more support the farmers in our area receive, the more they will be able to take steps to ensure we can enjoy local produce throughout the year.”
The demand for more local sourcing is good news for restaurants.
Although the higher quality, local products may cost more at the outset, the big picture illustrates that consumers show their appreciation through loyalty. Further, an increased focus on local sourcing can create goodwill among diners, and build the reputation of your business to boot.
There are other bottom-line benefits, as well. With local sourcing, you can buy in bulk regularly, helping to save money in the long run. And buying directly from farmers cuts out the middle man, also reducing costs.
Finally, if your restaurant is providing what consumers are demanding in terms of higher quality food and drink, you may have a competitive advantage over the restaurant down the street.
As part of the Taste NY initiative, more than 100 restaurants pledged to utilize the agricultural products available in New York State, increasing the sourcing, marketing, and education surrounding state grown/made products. Specifically, each chef or restaurant pledged to increase the sourcing of these products and ingredients by 10 percent or more.
Yono’s blends contemporary American cuisine with Indonesian influence using local ingredients from the Hudson Valley Region.
Yono’s sources much of its food locally. The foie gras comes from Ferndale. The fowl from Elizaville and Stephentown. The coffee from Albany. The butter from Jefferson. And the cheese from Barneveld.
The seafood at Yono’s comes from Brooklyn’s Sea to Table, which connects fishermen with chefs, for use in dishes like Yono’s line-caught Montauk tuna tartare.
Dock to Dish is also part of the mix of community-based fisheries, providing locally sourced, sustainable seafood landed exclusively through the ports of Shinnecock and Montauk. The fishery provides seafood to such local restaurants as Le Bernardin; Telepan; Blue Hill at Stone Barns; The Modern; and East Hampton’s Nick & Toni’s.
As part of its responsibly sourced seafood, Le Bernardin features yellowfin tuna carpaccio; flash-marinated snapper slivers with citrus-jalapeño vinaigrette; crusted or whole red snapper; geoduck sashimi; and sea urchin with aki nori-apple vinaigrette.
Telepan features local swordfish and wild striped bass; sustainably sourced catches at Nick & Toni’s include the Montauk fish burger with artichoke tapenade and local monkfish bouillabaisse; and The Modern can thank Dock to Dish for its sea bass and salmon.
According to Callanan, there are several trends that will hit New York menus this summer. Callanan uses words like “comfort,” “vegan,” “healthy,” and “sustainable” to describe the food trends:
Poke, the Hawaiian dish made with marinated and usually raw seafood
Fresh herbs and spices coupled with healthy, locally sourced dishes
Savory foods with a focus on mature flavors like cilantro and harissa oil
Japanese food (think Udon), a passion for which is growing globally and locally
Ethnic cuisines that use alternate grains and simpler fares are bringing palates back to the basics
Locally produced beverages
The locally sourced, sustainable trend transcends to the beverage industry, as well.
Restaurants are making sodas and carbonated beverages in-house, creating “amazing, unique, and innovative blends using florals and fresh herbs,” Callanan notes, “as well as local hard cider and simpler cocktails with fresh ingredients.”
Dominick Purnomo’s dp An American Brasserie in Albany boasts locally made and artisanal spirits, as well as craft brews exclusively from New York State — including draught beer from Chatham Brewing, Brooklyn Brewery, and Brewery Ommegang in Cooperstown.
Efforts are ongoing to simplify New York’s 80-year-old Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) law. The statute was enacted in 1934, following the repeal of Prohibition. Today, it is just outdated and difficult for businesses to navigate.
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo has convened a working group to review ways in which to modernize the law. A final report and recommendations from the working group were recently released.
The recommendations center around reorganization of the laws in a coherent, customer-focused manner to better serve regulated businesses. This would include consolidation of licenses (from nine down to three); amending “sales on Sunday” provisions; and supporting craft manufacturers through simplified application and permitting processes and reducing associated fees.
New Yorkers are demanding more local, artisanal, and sustainable options and — from food to drink, seafood to produce, and beer to spirits — New York restaurants are supplying.