Whenever Chef Jon Greening dines out, he scans the menu for Fresh From Florida: On the Menu products. The food connoisseur recognizes the enhanced flavor that fresh Florida foods deliver to the dining experience. Just as important, he believes in the benefits of local sourcing.
“I really enjoy Fresh From Florida: On the Menu – buying locally sourced products and working with local people. It makes you feel good to support local businesses, your state and local communities. In turn, they support you and your business,” says Greening, corporate chef for Rapoport’s Restaurant Group. Their menus include the Fresh From Florida logo next to entrees that contain at least two items grown in the state.
Rapoport’s Restaurant Group was the first restaurant group in Florida to join the Fresh From Florida: On the Menu initiative. This program, developed by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, encourages diners to buy locally sourced food.
Rapoport’s Restaurant Group’s collection of Palm Beach County restaurants includes Bogart’s Bar and Grille, Delray’s Deck 84, Henry’s, Burt and Max’s, and Apeiro Kitchen and Bar. A new concept, Rappy’s Deli, will open in Boca Raton in fall 2016.
The restaurant group purchases significant quantities of Florida’s staples of seafood and produce, Greening says. Through Localecopia, a local growers’ cooperative, the restaurant group sources locally grown strawberries, peppers, melons, potatoes, lettuce and more. Greening raves about the flavors of heirloom tomatoes grown just 30 minutes away and the versatility of cooking with Florida sweet corn. Often the produce arrives to their restaurant kitchens within hours of harvest.
Local Foods Reflect Culture, Heritage
At Jackson’s Steakhouse in Pensacola, Chef Irv Miller’s commitment to local Florida fare predates the Fresh From Florida logo now on the bottom of the steakhouse menu. For years, steakhouse diners have pleased their palates with the gratifying flavors of fresh, local foods. At the same time, the restaurant’s entrees allow tourists and locals alike to celebrate the area’s culture and heritage, Miller says.
The chef enjoys serving Florida shrimp, clams and mullet. He adds flavor to side dishes with Florida- grown peppers, kale, mangos, tomatoes and herbs. Outside of serving Midwest-raised beef, Miller locally sources many other seasonal ingredients for Jackson’s Steakhouse.
“Fresh is always best,” says Miller, who also serves as a contributing chef to Outstanding in the Field, a unique out-of- restaurant experience where guests dine at the source of a meal’s ingredients. “I think the flavors of our foods are unique, just like our seafood is unique. It’s my job to support the Fresh From Florida program because it enlightens the public and aligns with my personal food philosophy. I like to support the little guys, and I believe they are who made us who we are and shaped our culture.”