There's Nothing New About Farm-to-Table

The restaurant trend du jour is standard fare in many immigrant communities.
Aug 25, 2014·
Willy Blackmore is TakePart’s Food editor.

Like Prohibition-era cocktails and mason jars, there’s nothing new about farm-to-table cooking. While the local-minded approach to eating has become increasingly popular in recent years—so much so that it acts as a sort of byword for a certain type of restaurant—the notion behind what some call a movement is as old as agriculture. Be it during the Neolithic era or back when small homesteads dotted the American West, you ate what was grown nearby when it was fresh and when it was in season because there was little else to be had. It was, in essence, a diet of necessity. In many parts of the world, people still go about deciding what they’ll have for dinner in a similar manner.

In Los Angeles, the less hip notion of farm-to-table cooking can be found in the city’s many immigrant communities, including the Haitian restaurant Tigeorges' Chicken, which we visit in this latest episode of Served.

“Back home, you go shop every morning. Usually, it's two or three blocks from your house, and that’s where you get your fish supply,” George Laguerre, the restaurant’s owner and chef, says of living and cooking in Haiti. At his Los Angeles restaurant, he says he’s upholding that same tradition.

On the other side of town, high up on the Sunset Strip, the barn-like restaurant Eveleigh cooks with a similar ethos but charges far more for a meal. Says chef Jared Levy, food that’s grown nearby, “it’s going to taste better, it’s going to be healthier for you, and with that comes a slight premium—but that’s what people are interested in right now, and it’s a better way to eat.”

When that philosophy means eating pasta with sea urchin—fetched from the waters off Santa Barbara, Calif., courtesy of Sea Stephanie Fish—garnished with herbs clipped from the restaurant’s patio garden, paying a little more for dinner seems well worth it.

Tigeorges' Chicken, 307 Glendale Blvd., Los Angeles;

Eveleigh, 8752 W. Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles;

Sea Stephanie Fish,