Forget 'Farm-to-Table': This Restaurant Goes Well Beyond That

A new documentary looks at the close relationship between a farmer and a chef.

Willy Blackmore is TakePart’s Food editor. He has written for The Awl, The New Inquiry, and elsewhere.

Cynthia Sandberg is not your average farmer. Her two-acre Love Apple Farms in Santa Cruz County, Calif., grows vegetables, fruits, herbs, and flowers—300 varieties at the height of summer—for just one customer, the restaurant Manresa in nearby Los Gatos.

The relationship between Sandberg and chef David Kinch, singular in the restaurant world, is highlighted in the upcoming documentary The Farmer & the Chef. The pair are fascinating subjects, because unlike kitchens that grow a handful of herbs or greens for themselves, “this is not a show garden; it’s not a PR garden,” Sandberg points out in the trailer. Everything comes from Love Apple Farms.

As the philosophy and cooking of Kinch and his team show, having such thorough (if not hard-won) control of ingredients from the point when they're a seed to when they’re plated in a dish has a profound impact on the creative process.

“The ideas for using various products develop, and grow, and mature at the same time that the product does also,” Kinch says. “So it really became 'forget that the farm was writing the menu.' ”

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