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The term may be overused these days but the intention remains relevant. Diners want inventive dishes made with the freshest possible ingredients and least possible impact on the environment. Chefs want to offer exactly that. One result of this synergistic aspiration is a new focus on something that had all but disappeared from the American landscape in the age of big agriculture–the small farm. Now, local organic produce, animals raised humanely, handcrafted cheese and sausage, house-made canned and preserved goods and a desire to waste nothing all have become the new normal in trendsetting restaurants, and Denver is well ahead of the curve.
The drive to use local purveyors and ingredients is strong in Colorado. From pizza to multi-course meals, casual eateries to fine dining, there are restaurants at which farm-to-table is not a trend but a sustained passion. One of the best-known chefs in this space is Alex Seidel, who has Fruition, Mercantile Dining & Provision and his own Fruition Farms, which both restaurants use. Less known, perhaps, are Johnny Ballen, head “beankeeper” at the Squeaky Bean, which also has its own acreage, and Jeff Rogoff, co-owner with his wife of Sazza, which had a plot in the past and is gearing up for a new one next year, and whose focus from the start has been local, sustainable and organic–something he calls “a lifestyle choice, not a business decision.”
There are many more. The best news is that along with the environment, diners are benefitting.