This May the Heritage team will continue an almost decade long tradition of visiting its family of farms with chefs from some of the great restaurants that we sell to on a weekly basis.
The first such tour was with Mark Ladner, then of Lupa and now Del Posto in 2005. Also in the 12-passenger van that trip was Zach Allen who would go on to open restaurants for Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich in Las Vegas and Singapore. And Jason Denton the founding partner in Lupa. We spent much of our time lost on country roads, looking for road markers that we were told by farmers were easy to find. Our van got stuck in the mud on our way to visit Larry and Madonna Sorrel’s Lazy S. Farm but lucky for us Larry had a tractor and strong chains! He yanked us city boys out and made fun of us in the process. The visits on that tour led to the formation of the foundation of Heritage Foods USA and the recognition around the country that genetic diversity in the meat supply matters.
Over the next decade dozens of chefs took the flight to MCI airport in Kansas City to visit the heart of the national heritage breed movement. Chefs from Lupa, Del Posto, Otto, Momofuku Ssam Bar, MWells, Community Food, Al di La, S Wallace Edwards and Sons, B&B, Fatted Calf, Jupiter, A16, Bi Rite and Farmstead among many others saw firsthand the farms and processors that make up Heritage Foods USA as well as dozens of rare and heritage breeds free ranging the local hills and forests. And they broke bread with the farmers. They also drank and shot guns at cans.
We visit Mario Fantasma and his family at Paradise Locker Meats in Trimble, before heading south to Lindsborg to spend time with Frank Reese our heritage turkey farmer. Every year we make time to stop at the The Cozy Inn in Salina. From there it’s on to see Larry and Madonna’s Lazy Ranch, Doug Metzger, Craig and Amy Good, and of course Joseph Hubbard, one of our lamb farmers.
This is a tradition that has launched an economy. It is responsible for helping to create a market that can withstand the trends of modern meat agriculture, and it has fostered unbelievable strong bonds between our chefs, our farmers, and us. It is also just plain fun to spend the time together while getting a chance to see first hand how our food is sourced.
The next trip is scheduled for May 1st, and we’d like to invite you to join us on the road! We will be updating The Blog and Facebook every step of the way with pictures and stories of our adventures. Let us know what you want to see and what questions you have for our farmers and we’ll find you answers!