Chefs Collaborative SRQ
Chefs Collaborative is a rapidly expanding national organization that provides a forum and a platform for “like-minded chefs and food professionals across the country who care about sourcing, cooking, and serving better food and are doing their part to create a better food system.” Here in Sarasota we have a large number of active Chefs Collaborative members, so many that we were able to create a Sarasota chapter.
The Sarasota Chapter of Chefs Collaborative kick-off event was hosted by Chefs Collaborative member Chef Evan Gastman and his team at The Cottage on Siesta Key. This introductory networking event boasted a guest list comprised of some of Sarasota’s most esteemed food professionals and enthusiasts of the “Change Menus, Change Lives” philosophy espoused by Chefs Collaborative. April Quintin of Turtle Beach Natural Foodservice was on hand along with many of her restaurant and chef partners who are leading the conversion of Sarasota’s menus. Paul Mattison of Mattison’s, Mark Woodruff of MADE, Louis Robinson of Spice, and Danni and Tom Baril of Polpo’s Pizza were only some of the powerhouse guests who converged on the courtyard at The Cottage to get social and get serious about building a better food system in Sarasota and beyond.
Edible Sarasota’s Tracy Freeman and Tina Bossy-Freeman, and Steve Phelps of Indigenous, are working tirelessly to coordinate the efforts of the Sarasota chapter of Chefs Collaborative to galvanize our culinary community to be a force for positive change.
Another member of the Sarasota chapter in attendance that night was Isaac Johnson, sous-chef at Pomona Bistro and the recipient of one of only 25 scholarships that were awarded on a national level by Chefs Collaborative to cover the cost of attending April’s Chefs Collaborative seventh annual summit, Good Food is Smart Business, held in New York City. Isaac credits Steve Phelps for encouraging him to join the Sarasota Chapter and for nudging him to apply for the scholarship. Isaac says that the spirit of the organization is something that he holds very close to his heart. “When you start working in a kitchen you do a lot of grunt work and you don’t really think beyond working as hard as you can and moving forward. As you begin to move up you start to think about the food and you become cognizant of waste and of the products that you’re using. You become more creative about how to best utilize your ingredients to minimize waste—make family meal for the employees, run different nightly specials. This is not a new concept, when the aristocracy of old created ‘fine dining’ as we know it, the lower classes were eating the ‘less desirable’ parts of the animal and they found ways to make it delicious.”
We can be proud of our Sarasota chapter and its members already and we look forward to growing in numbers and inspiring others in the way that we have all been inspired to make better choices for a better future.