Archive for the ‘Articulture & Sustainability’ Category

“The only constant in life is change.”

05 Jul

François de la Rochefoucauld

One of the most difficult things for me, is to put my thoughts and feelings into words.  I am not a writer.   My feelings are that if you can write, you should, if you can’t you should talk.  Well, if you have any idea of who I am you know this post will be a bit choppy.  I am the latter of the two.

My cooking career has taken me down some very different roads.  I never thought when in culinary school in 1997 that I would get the chance to work for Jim Grell at the Modern Cafe, meet Mike Philips and get a chance to open my own restaurant.  Nor, did I imagine I would get to work with a man that I never heard of; Jim Denavin with Outstanding in the Field who made me realize how much inspiration can do for a person’s soul. Then there was the national attention in the documentary, “Troubled Waters,” by Larkin McPhee and, “In Search of Food,”on the Ovation Network with Barton Seaver.  I never imagined that I would be talking to people like Andrew Zimmern, and then talking to the folks behind the fundraising efforts for the James Beard Foundation with the Celebrity Chef Tour.  I never even thought for a second I would ever get to do any of that and along the way get to meet so many amazing cooks, chefs, waiters, dishwashers, customers, friends and more importantly the farmers that are my true inspiration with their thankless hours, time and devotion to such a humble way to make a living.  This is starting to sound like an acceptance speech at some awards show now, so I will stop.  But I never imagined any of it.  I just wanted to cook. (P.S.  That was a huge thanks to all those people up there, and there are so many more to mention that have helped me get here.  You know who you are.)

But now, things are different.  I have cooked, and I love cooking to this day.  The craft and the simplicity of it sometimes just blows my mind.  What I desire now in my career is change… to challenge myself in a whole new way.  I love teaching.  I have been teaching in my restaurant, at Tour de Farm, at speaking engagements, at charity events, in all that I do, I feel that I am slowly starting to understand that I have the ability to get people to start to understand the importance of food and helping them have conversations about what is important with food.  Let me be the first to say that I am not always right, nor does the way I do things and the way that I look at food make sense to everyone.  I am ok with that.  But I know some people are not.  I talk about food because I love food.  It is who I am.

So, now that some of you have just read all of that and rolled your eyes, well, you can stop reading, cause you are not going to understand the rest.  If you don’t like what I do, what I have to say, how I make my choices, that is just fine with me.  You can stop reading and move on.  If you feel that you need to comment on my blog, or other blogs anonymously and take cheap shots at what I say or do, well, that is your choice.  I am ok with it and wish you well. (Whew, I have been wanting to say that for a long time).

Here it is.  Yes, I have accepted the job of Executive Chef and Food and Beverage Manager at the Minnesota Valley Country club.  Yes, Corner Table is still open and my amazing kitchen crew of Chad, Thomas, Dan and Kyle are still going to be cooking everyone dinner from now on and doing just as an amazing job as they have done for the last year.  I have to say, I eat their food, and they are damm fine cooks.  Yes, all the great staff at CT is stepping up.  They are a talented bunch of professionals and I would not have accepted this position if I did not believe in each and every one of them to keep CT going on the course that I have started.

My choice to make this move did not come easy.  The underlying thing was the opportunity to work on another level of local and sustainable food. The ability to bring this message and this style of food into this location is really a continuation of what they are already doing at MVCC.  Just to give you an idea,  some of the things that we are working on are establishing a composting program for the kitchen and weighing the pros and cons of doing it ourselves on property.  We are looking at all areas of food, including our staff meals.  We’re figuring out what will the food be like.  I have an idea where we are going, but at the same time, this is a work in progress just as Corner Table was when I started.  Will it be local?  YES.  Will it be sustainable? YES.  Will it have burgers, fries, salads, steaks, chops, fish… sure… will the food on the course reflect this change… YES.

Even now, as I type this after working out there for almost three weeks, I get excited at all the potential and all the ability that we have to share our vision of local and sustainable food to all the members. (By the way, the members and the staff all have been very welcoming to me during this transition time and I thank them for that.)

I had no idea in the beginning of the year when I started talking about Tour de Farm and the idea of getting local food in places that it had not really been known for, that it would mean I was going to go to those places too.  Yes, there are a lot of questions that remain.  There are a lot of things that will be learned along the way.  Yes, I will be working on them. Tweeting and talking about them.  If you are interested in learning more about it, keep listening.  If you really just have a bunch of speculation and “what if”s” to talk about.  Well, go for it.  If you have questions, ask them, and I will try and keep everyone up to date on things, but if you don’t hear from me for a bit, just understand I might be teaching or maybe even planting a garden… and sure as hell doing a lot of cooking.

A New opportunity for sustainable food

29 Jun

The Minnesota Valley Country Club Welcomes Scott Pampuch as Executive Chef

Turf-to-Table: Local, seasonal food soon to be at “The Valley”

A new chapter has begun for local foods chef and advocate, Scott Pampuch, owner of Corner Table Restaurant in south Minneapolis and Tour de Farm. After consulting the Minnesota Valley Country Club’s executive staff on taking their food and beverage program in a new direction, Kurt Stangler, Clubhouse Manager, offered Pampuch the executive chef position. Pampuch accepted the opportunity.

Recognized as the first country club in Minnesota to be a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary from Audubon International, the club demonstrates commitment to the health of the land, water quality, and wildlife. Pampuch’s local food philosophies compliment their mission. “This is the biggest step that’s happened in my career in six years,” Pampuch explained, “I have the opportunity to introduce local, sustainable food to a new audience.” The transition to local food won’t happen instantly, but will be an evolution of bringing in new vendors, the farms, and training the kitchen and Front of House staff. Working with the grounds crew, Pampuch also has plans for a kitchen garden next Spring.

The Corner Table employees are excited for Pampuch’s opportunity to expand local food in Minnesota. Corner Table will remain a leader in serving local, sustainable food with the seasons. Corner Table is open for dinner Wednesday and Thursday 5pm – 10pm, Friday and Saturday 5pm – 11pm, and breakfast on Sunday from 8am – 1pm.


About the Minnesota Valley Country Club and Audubon Society

A beautiful “classically-styled” golf course designed in the early 1920’s by Seth Raynor, one of this country’s most renowned designers. Host of the 2010 Minnesota Section PGA Senior Championship, 2009 MGA Mid-Amateur Championship & 2008 MGA Women’s Amateur Championship. Winner 2009 & 2010 Environmental Leader Award.


In the spring of 1994, Minnesota Valley Country Club became the first golf course in the state of Minnesota to achieve the status of a Fully Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary from Audubon International. This was the result of the Club demonstrating leadership, commitment, and high standards to environmental management.

Audubon International oversees many education and conservation programs throughout America.


And now a word from Tour de Farm.

22 Apr

This time of year, a number of you have been waiting to hear what we are going to do this year with our dinners.  Well, you are the first to know.  Here you go:

More announcements to come.  Click below and find out what the first dinner is.

Tour de Farm 2011


In case you like to watch TV

11 Mar

Last year, I got this phone call about a possible TV show coming to Minneapolis and doing some filming. Well, let’s just say it was a very interesting experience.  We had a ton of fun and I got to work with some great people along the way.  Let me know what you all think?



In Search of Food:  Minneapolis – Tuesday, May 10, 8 p.m. ET/PT

Seaver’s visits include the Corner Table and cooking with chef Scott Pampuch, Mill City Farmer’s Market, Riverbend Farm, Hope Creamery, Dream of Wild Health, and the Oak Center General Store.

SANTA MONICA – March 10, 2011:  Exploring the artisanal cultural trend sweeping the culinary world, Ovation will premiere a new three-part series, In Search of Food, beginning Tuesday, May 10 at 8 p.m. ET/PT. The program spotlights the popularity and resurgence of the “locavore” movement — cooking with locally sourced ingredients — which has invigorated local growers and farms around the country.

In Search of Food is hosted by acclaimed chef, author and sustainability advocate Barton Seaver.  The “locavore” movement, originated in the 1970s with Alice Waters and her famous restaurant Chez Panisse. The movement fueled by Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma and In Defense of Food, has been embraced by food activists like Seaver. In the Ovation series, Seaver journeys across America charting the roots and growth of artisanal foods.

In Search of Food features Seaver’s visits to three distinct cities

— Minneapolis, New York and San Francisco —where he meets local farmers, chefs and food craftsmen.. He focuses on the importance of preparing and eating foods from the land and supporting producers, as well as the rewards of belonging to a passionate local community. Each episode culminates in a cooking collaboration with local chefs in the area who prepare a locavore feast for the farmers and growers and their families featured in the program.

Here are highlights from each episode:
•    In Search of Food:  New York – Wednesday, May 11, 8 p.m. ET/PT Seaver’s trip is highlighted by stops at such places as the Union Square Greenmarket, Eagle Street Rooftop Farm, Rouge Tomate, Eataly, Bubby’s, and the East New York Farms.

•    In Search of Food:  San Francisco – Thursday, May 12, 8 p.m.

ET/PT  In this final episode, Seaver focuses on the Hog Island Oyster Co., Sarah Weiner, Scribe Winery, Earthbound Farm, fishing with Artie Herning, Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market, Bovolo; and special visits with Michael Pollan at Renaissance Forge and Alice Waters at Chez Panisse.



‘Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food’

17 Sep

I want everyone to go and read this and let me know what you think?  Is this a good thing?

“An American people that is more engaged with their food supply will create new income opportunities for American agriculture,” said Vilsack. “Reconnecting consumers and institutions with local producers will stimulate economies in rural communities, improve access to healthy, nutritious food for our families, and decrease the amount of resources to transport our food.”

The ‘Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food’ initiative, chaired by Deputy Secretary Merrigan, is the focus of a task force with representatives from agencies across USDA who will help better align the Department’s efforts to build stronger local and regional food systems. This week alone, USDA will announce approximately $65 million in funding for ‘Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food’ initiatives.

“Americans are more interested in food and agriculture than at any other time since most families left the farm,” said Merrigan. “‘Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food’ seeks to focus that conversation on supporting local and regional food systems to strengthen American agriculture by promoting sustainable agricultural practices and spurring economic opportunity in rural communities.”

Know your farmer, know your food

For the full article:!ut/p/_s.7_0_A/7_0_1OB?contentidonly=true&contentid=2009/09/0440.xml

Let me know?  What does everyone think?



GOT MILK? Think about it.

14 Aug

This is an expert from an article that hopefully will not be something we see a lot of in the next couple of years.  I would hope that we will see a number of articles talking more about the growth of the family farm.  Remember, this is all up to you, the consumer.  We eat a number of times during the day, week, month and year, and every dollar you spend, no matter how small, will affect change. 

It was not a decision they wanted to make. A fit, vigorous 62-year-old, Borland could have kept working. His son, who is 35 and has two sons of his own, was once interested in taking over. But the dismal prices that dairy farmers are receiving for their milk forced the Borlands to sell. “We’ve gone through hard times and low milk prices before,” said Borland’s wife, Carol, a retired United Methodist minister. “This time there doesn’t seem to be any light at the end of the tunnel. There’s no sense working that hard when you’re 62 just to go into debt.”

For several months I’d been reading headlines and following the statistics behind the current nationwide dairy crisis. The math is stark. Prices paid to farmers per hundredweight (about 12 gallons) have fallen from nearly $20 a year ago to less than $11 in June. Earlier this month, the Federal government raised the support price by $1.25, but that is only a drop in the proverbial bucket. It costs a farmer about $18 to produce a hundredweight of milk. In Vermont, where I live, that translates to a loss of $100 per cow per month. So far this year, 33 farms have ceased operation in this one tiny state.

Meanwhile, the price you and I pay for milk in the grocery store has stayed about the same. Someone is clearly pocketing the difference. Perhaps that explains why profits at Dean Foods—the nation’s largest processor and shipper of dairy products, with more than 50 regional brands—have skyrocketed. The company announced earnings of $75.3 million in the first quarter of 2009, more than twice the amount it made during the same quarter last year ($30.8 million). (Dean countered that “current supply and demand is contributing to the low price environment.”)

Read the full article here:


Is eating locally the first “pet rock” of century?

24 Jul

There was a great article that came up a few days ago on the MPR website about smaller farms coming together to buy larger trucks to create delivery systems for themselves.  It is a story that needs to get read and talked about because distribution issues need to be solved for local eating to become more stable.  If anyone was at “Policy and a Pint” this last spring, it also came up in the conversation there.

The article (rightly) raises the question of financial viability of such an endeavor.  Unfortunately, the answer from one of the industry experts was shocking:

Jean Kinsey, however, thinks it’s a fad. Kinsey co-directs the Food Industry Center at the University of Minnesota. She said the interest in local food may last, but she’s skeptical that it will ever be a significant part of the market.

“It’s probably useful to know that organic food has been growing at double-digit rates for several years, and in total still occupies less than 3 percent of the total food sales,” Kinsey said.

Full article: Organic farmers hope trucks increase business

This to me is an example of how people who are in the food system, think about the food system.  Getting food locally is being dismissed as a small number.  This movement, really can’t amount to much.  I am sure these were some of the same thoughts that when large scale grocery stores started coming in to small towns and the butcher shops, the bakeries, and the farmers markets thought, well, this idea of a “grocery store” can’t work.  It is just a fad.  Possibly, when even the idea of feeding excess corn to cows started.  I bet there were a number of people in our government, on farms, and the general population that thought, this is just an idea that won’t work.  In comparison, yes, it is small, but, really, what is wrong with starting small?  (Last time I checked a couple of guys who started a small “computer company” and named it after a fruit were doing pretty well.)

The total food sales?  NOW, there I have a question.  Where is that research, and who was surveyed?  When was that research done?  Where was the research done?  I would love to know a lot more about that research.  Who funded the research?  What was the point of the research to begin with?  What questions were being asked?

The point of this article for me is to get people to stop talking about if this is a fad or not, and go on hard facts.  One fact:  this is not something new.  This idea of eating locally has been around forever.  it had a lot to do with how this country was founded and how this country ran for a very long time. Another fact: with human rights abuses, animal abuses, the massive rise in food allergies, bovine hormone injections (largely unlabeled) linked to human and bovine health risks, overfishing, topsoil erosionwater scarcity, and (unfortunately) more, we have got to change the way we get our food. The commodity food system is just so pervasive over the past 60 years that we have forgotten that we have the ability to try something a new and, to borrow a line from the computer guys who named their company after a fruit; to think differently.

I would like to ask all those that read this blog and support local family farms to send an email to Jean Kinsey and give her your feedback as to why you don’t think this is just a fad.  Again, we know the power of people being called to action.  Maybe, just maybe, that if more people speak up and say what is on their mind, those in the food industry might change the way they think about what is possible.

Jean Kinsey
Co-Director, The Food Industry Center


317b Classroom Office Building
1994 Buford Avenue
St Paul, MN 55108

In the interest of being fair.  Please do not send her any mail that is negative.  I would like for people to share stories of how they eat and how they accomplish things locally.  Also, I personally have sent Jean and email and have informed her of this blog post.

This may seem like just another feel good story.

28 May

This was sent to me from the website Local Harvest. This is something I have been thinking about, and a number of others have been thinking about as well. So, I don’t know If i could have said this any better.
LocalHarvest Newsletter, May 28, 2009

photo by Chaffin Orchards

Welcome back to the LocalHarvest newsletter.

A year or so ago I heard a story that keeps coming back to me this spring. It was told by a cheesemaker who lives and farms a few miles out of town. He and his family make a number of beautiful sheep cheeses that are sold at select stores around the country. The story goes that this cheesemaker used to travel around, introducing his wares at new cheese shops. One day, he was offering samples at a store in Vermont, and talking with a customer who asked where he was from. Minnesota, he told her. They chatted for a minute more, and as she left she put a big piece of cheese in her cart, saying, I just love to support local farmers.

Steven had to shake his head for a minute. Vermont and Minnesota aren’t exactly in the same neighborhood. But he knew what the woman meant. She appreciates the real thing. She recognizes it when she sees it, and Steven and his cheeses were it.

For a while now, many of us have used the word ‘local’ as shorthand for food that meets a certain, somewhat ineffable quality standard. In this context, ‘local’ means something like this: This food is grown near here, on a human scale, by people who care deeply about the land and make thoughtful, conscientious choices for its stewardship. It is nutritionally intact and fantastic tasting. It thrives here, unpropped by excessive resources or technology. Its history is knowable and unsullied.
In other words, local goes way beyond geography. It is food we know in our bellies we can trust. Michael Pollan calls it real food. The LocalHarvest motto does too, by the way. Real Food. Real Farmers. Real community.

The day is coming when ‘local’ won’t be a reasonable shorthand for everything we mean when we say it. Already this month a subsidiary of one of the world’s largest multinational companies began marketing its conventionally grown and processed potato chips as “local”. I suspect we’ll see more such imposters in the future. Where there’s money to be made, charlatans will gather.

Local is becoming too small a word, just as organic has. Probably any label will eventually be taken over or outgrown. Fortunately, words don’t mean as much as direct experience. When the guy behind the sample table hands you a chunk of blue cheese on a toothpick and says, Here, try this. My wife and I made it from our sheep’s milk, pay attention. If everything in you says, Yes! pick up a big hunk and take it home with you.

As always, take good care and eat well,
Erin Barnett

So, I got this phone call the other day and I said, well sure.

18 Apr

Policy and a Pint: Think Globally, Eat Locally?

Wednesday, May 6
Doors 5:30 p.m. | Program 6:00 – 7:00 p.m.
Varsity Theater

1308 4th Street SE, Minneapolis
Admission: $10, $5 for students with valid ID
Appetizers from the Loring Pasta Bar included
Register now

Want to fill your plate with food from our local farms? It’s more complicated than we often realize. Join moderator Steve Seel, DJ from 89.3 the Current, Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl, food critic for Minnesota Monthly, and Scott Pampuch, chef at the Corner Table in Minneapolis.

It Never Hurts to ask

01 Apr

Last year, I heard that the national tour of Outstanding in the Field was coming to the Twin Cities area.  I had no idea of how to get in touch with them directly, so I went to the website and sent off an email to anyone there that would listen.  I think I said something to the effect of, “I will cook, clean, or do anything I can to help out…”  The next thing I knew, Lenny Russo from Heartland was calling me and asking me to co-chef the event.   Needless to say, It never hurts to just ask.



This year they are coming back on July 31st, 2009 we will be at Riverbend Farms in Delano, MN

Tickets went on sale and there are a few left.  So if you want to join us this year please visit the website.

There you go….. any questions?