If every zucchini you’ve ever bought was made on a farm and ends up on your table, doesn’t that mean it’s farm-to-table? It’s not a farm on Mars, after all (sorry Matt Damon).
Not really. There’s no centralized criteria by which farm-to-table is defined, but generally, if you know the farm or ranch your product came from, if you know they’re raising their crops or livestock without added hormones or pesticides, and if you are cutting out the middleman by bypassing commercial vendors, you’re eating farm-to-table.
So what does that slightly vague definition mean to the actual chefs and restaurants trying to live by it? To find out, we asked five different restauranteurs -- Chef Shane Stark of Mongers Market + Kitchen, Chef Daven Wardynski of the Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort, Chef Benjamin Baker of The Preserve at Travaasa Austin, Chef David Root of The Hairy Lobster, and founder of Homemade Sustainable Sandwich Shop Ben Friedman -- to give us a breakdown of one dish from each of their locally sourced menus, and then grilled them about their biggest challenges, their day-to-day, and what this philosophy means beyond the buzzwords. Here’s what we found.