Jeremy Fox brings one of his favourite farms to LA’s tables
The Rustic Canyon chef is teaming up with Californian farmer Kang Thao to stage a special dinner next month
West coast chef Jeremy Fox still eats and cooks with meat, but he tries to use every part of his vegetable produce too, thanks to his "seed-to-stalk" philosophy.
“By the time I opened Ubuntu in Napa Valley, we treated vegetables with the same kind of reverence we’d given meat in the nose-to-tail decade that had emerged in the years before,” explains Fox in the introduction to our new book, The Garden Chef: Recipes and Stories from Plant to Plate.
“It was also about finding creative ways to celebrate the incredible ingredients that would be harvested daily in our kitchen garden. Say, for example, I had broccoli leaves. I wouldn’t want them to disappear on the plate and for no one to know what they were. Instead, I’d be like, how do I create a dish where broccoli leaves are the star? And that’s not really what chefs had been trained to do, or at least not when I was learning. It was something completely new. A whole different part of the brain was being exercised. We had to create a fresh approach. It was exciting.”
Fox has retained that excitement in his current position at Rustic Canyon in Los Angeles, where he has, for example, cooked an entire tasting menu from carrots. Next month, however, he’s teaming up with one of his favourite producers, Kang Thao.
Thao and his family’s produce is prized among Californian chefs for its near perfection; all the picking, weeding and planting is done by hand on the family’s 34-acre plot in Fresno, California. Kang’s parents emigrated to the US back in the 1980s, initially finding employment as agricultural workers, before they managed to get a plot of their own, growing both popular East-Asian varietals - Kang’s father actually lived in the jungles of Laos for four years back in the 1970s, surviving on bamboo and mountain yams, while the Communists ruled the country – as well as Californian favourites, such as peas, cucumbers and basil.
On April 9, Fox plans to combine some of the farm’s best spring produce with some of his other favourite ingredients, in a special vegetable and farmer dinner. “Please note that this will not be a vegetarian menu, utilizing meat to complement the produce,” Fox cautions. Come with an open mind, and an empty stomach.
For more on the ways in which today’s chefs are working with great produce, order a copy of The Garden Chef here.