[Market-farming] restaurants

joehler at email.arizona.edu joehler at email.arizona.edu
Sun Oct 5 14:08:50 EDT 2003

Hello Lucy,
Thank you very much for this post, it was very informative. Especially, 
thanks for the advice on the behavior of chefs, this will be very helpful.


At 12:03 PM 10/05/2003 -0400, you wrote:

>Date: Sun, 05 Oct 2003 09:20:11 -0400
>From: Lucy Goodman <goodows at infinet.com>
>Subject: [Market-farming] Hints for selling to restaurants
>To: Market Farming <market-farming at lists.ibiblio.org>
>Message-ID: <3F801A8B.7060508 at infinet.com>
>Content-Type: text/plain; charset=us-ascii; format=flowed
>It seems we have many people on this list who want to start selling to
>I have been on both sides of the restaurant coin, I have managed
>kitchens (which means I got to do the ordering) and I have grown and
>sold to kitchens.
>as far as I know as long as you are not selling meat or value added
>items (baked or canned goods) there are no permits or licensing needed
>in the US in order to sell to a restaurant.
>To start you will be cold calling. When you do this be sure to speak
>only with the head chef. This is the person in charge of the menus and
>food ordering, i.e. the person who makes ALL food decisions at the
>restaurant. Do not talk with the owner or manager unless this person is
>also the head chef. If the chef is not there than ask when would be a
>good time to come back.
>Never Ever make a call or delivery of any kind during lunch or dinner.
>Lunch is 11 am to 2pm and dinner is 4pm to 8pm in most fine dinning
>restaurants. come in during these hours and in most cases you will be
>asked to never come back for any reason. These are the Crunch hours at a
>restaurant. This is perhaps the most important rule to selling to
>restaurants-respecting their hours.
>When you show up for the first time bring along samples of what you have
>plus farm info, contact info and a sheet with what you will have through
>the year and when. be sure to get the chef's contact info especially
>email so you can easily update what you have weekly. If the restaurant
>has not been buying local food you will have to educate the chef and
>cooks on how to deal with fresh food. Restaurants, like most cooking
>endeavors has gone to preprocessed/frozen food and many kitchens have
>cooks that are trained to open packages and heat things not actually
>cook. The days of kitchens with cooks that cook from scratch are
>becoming a thing of the past.
>I have noticed that a few kitchens I have dealt with start out excited
>about using locally grown foods (it is popular right now) but that
>excitement fades as they realize they don't know how to deal with fresh
>whole food so they quit ordering without any explanation (I figure they
>do this out of embarrassment as a chef of a good restaurant it is
>assumed does know all about all foods).
>Most fine dinning restaurants are small places and do not order all that
>much food. Don't depend on one for all your sales. The one we deal with
>will order $20 to $50 worth of food most weeks. Occasionally we will get
>a huge order of $75. They like dealing with small farmers because they
>can get small amounts of things like tomatoes-10 pounds rather than a 25
>pound case or 2 bunches of radishes instead of a whole case, etc..
>I have found that most chefs are truly thankful for a source for fresh
>local sustainable food But they are chefs and tend to be the prima donna
>type-they will be just great one week and the next week you may rub the
>chef the wrong way and be sent away amid a flood of expletives. If this
>happens it is best to yell back at the chef and tell him (most chefs are
>hims) you are not an employee and if he doesn't like the food you can
>just leave and never come back. Usually you will get a call asking for
>forgiveness and to come back. From spending well over a decade working
>for such people I realize this is kitchen culture-treat the employees
>like slaves and the chefs like Gods.
>Once you have an account with a restaurant you will need to figure out
>what to charge. For high quality chefs will pay higher prices but they
>have to keep the cost of food under 20% of the total budget or they will
>go out of business. Get a copy of the menu to see what they are charging
>and if possible also get a price list from their main food purveyor to
>see what they are used to paying for.
>As for what to grow talk to the chef and see what they want.
>Lucy Goodman
>Boulder Belt Organics
>New Paris, OH
>Check out the Boulder Belt website:
>"There is no way to peace---peace is the way."
>A.J. Muste
>Market-farming mailing list
>Market-farming at lists.ibiblio.org
>Get the list FAQ at: http://www.marketfarming.net/mflistfaq.htm
>End of Market-farming Digest, Vol 9, Issue 7

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