luker_harley_23Is it true that JFK’s famed words “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country”  were uttered at the morning rehearsal for his inaugural speech while dining on farm-raised bacon for breakfast?  Across the U.S., chefs are taking these words literally and making an extra effort to support the small farmer and homegrown products. As the Fourth of July nears, let’s see what’s in our own backyard.
Andrew Evans, owner and “Grill Master” of The BBQ Joint in Easton and Pasadena, MD, applies strict standards to his blue-ribbon winning barbeque starting with the meat’s origin.  For his pork, which recently won First Place at the Middletown BBQ Cook-off, Andrew looks to Heritage Acres Food. Located in the Ozarks, the region provides an ideal climate for raising pigs.
Chef David Guas of Bayou Bakery, Coffee Bar & Eatery in Arlington, VA goes to the head of the American History class for his discovery of the horse-powered Grist Mill at George Washington’s Mount Vernon, which supplies him exclusively with meal ground from locally sourced Virginia corn for his breads, pies, and luker_harley_17cookies.
Clifton Inn in Charlottesville, VA  relies heavily on its own kitchen garden, but that fertile plot doesn’t extend to a sorghum crop.  Chef Tucker Yoder gets his supply through a unique back-country arrangement. His friend lends his horse to a sorghum farmer to increase the milling, resulting in Sorghum Poached Apples and Sheep’s Milk Ice Cream.
Chef Cory Bahr of Restaurant Cotton in Monroe, LA relies on his deliberate and determined sourcing of the most local ingredients around to elevate his North Delta Cuisine. Cory heads out to Oak Grove, LA for the most succulent, local watermelon that he compresses before tossing it on the grill and serving it with Burrata, arugula, and a drizzle of sweet Vincotto.
At District Commons in Washington, DC, chef Jeff Tunks sources his ham for the daily Pig Board from La Quercia in Norwalk, Iowa. The artisanal ham comes from a small family-owned farm that makes its award-winning Prosciutto, Pancetta, Spiced Prosciutto, and Spicy Coppa from humanely raised heritage breed meat.
Mariza, New Orleans’ hottest new Bywater restaurant, along with its chef and locavore Ian Schnoebelen, keeps it all in Louisiana by sourcing from Chappapeela and Covey Rise Farms for his Duck, Pork and Produce. At the bordering state of Mississippi, his Beef and Lamb are from Two Run Farms, all of which are incorporated into his daily changing charcuterie plate.
It’s no surprise that Plume at The Jefferson, DC looks to Virginia’s Monticello country to score Martin’s Angus Beef from The Plains, VA.  Every ounce of prime beef served comes straight from the farm for the Ground Dry-Aged Sirloin Burger at Quill and the Filet of Martin’s Angus Prime Beef.

For 25 years at Purple Parrot Café in Hattiesburg, MS,  sourcing local poultry has always been a priority for Robert St. John.  For eggs, Robert looks to his friends at Dominion Farms just outside of town. The most recent egg item to hit the menu is pulled_pork_sandwichFlatbread topped with two Dominion Farms Fried Eggs, Roasted Tomato Coulis, and Arugula. Find this at Branch, his recently opened  cutting-edge cocktail bar.

Even in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and the Gulf Oil Spill, “NOLA Bred, NOLA Fed” Ralph Brennan’s Red Fish Grill has never ceased to amaze its diners for continuing to purchase from Louisiana fisherman, P&J,  the oldest purveyor of oysters in the country. Delivered daily, the 3 millionth oyster, in BBQ form, was shelled out in March of 2013.
Penn Cove Shellfish Farm on the coast of Washington state, the oldest commercial mussel farm in the U.S., cultivates what chef Robert Wiedmaier considers to be the world’s most succulent mussels. Mussels are harvested to order and delivered exclusively to his six establishments across the Washington, DC area and Atlantic City, NJ. 
Today’s chefs and proprietors are finding quality, value, and unparalleled taste in America’s finest.