It means your relationship with your farmer, fisher, or rancher needs to be rock solid if you want to succeed
Notice how all these issues revolve around constant communication with a ton of suppliers? These guys are your restaurant’s lifeline, and building relationships with them isn't as easy as picking up a phone and placing an order.
Not only do chefs actually have to find these guys, they must also establish whether they're really doing the kind of growing, herding, fishing, and slaughtering that fits the ethos of the restaurant.
For a chef who’s new in town, the first stop he or she should make is the local farmer’s market. You don’t want someone who is going to hand over the beets and say have a nice day -- this isn’t your University Welcome Week type of hookup. You’re looking for something real. Your farmer should be able to engage in a conversation about how they grew the asparagi, about how the green beans are going to be a month late because the ground hadn’t thawed enough to plant them. You want to know what your rancher is feeding the livestock, that those cute little lambs and pigs are treated humanely and not pumped with antibiotics. You want a fisher who will warn you if crab season is starting late because there was unusually high bacteria in the catch because of warmer waters.
Oftentimes, chefs will take whatever crop a farmer has too much of off the farmer’s hands and start fermenting or pickling what can’t be used on the menu right away. And the same goes with livestock -- a chef will help a farmer move the product and start catering the menu around what was brought in, like organ meat, heads, the bellies; chefs have fun with how to twist little-used ingredients into something palatable.
But a farmer will scratch your back too. They might ask a chef about what is specifically needed in the restaurant and then go ahead and plant it. A chef and the farmer can even arrange to plan out crops a year in advance by sitting down, mapping out the weather, and deciding what would make the most sense to grow for both parties.
It's a complex relationship that reaps great benefits and great food... but it's obviously a ton of work and an emotional investment other chefs don't have to make.