Baltimore’s restaurant renaissance is marked by chefs and restauranteurs creating innovative dining experiences. While this transformation is taking place, many of the city’s best restaurants are committed to keeping one practice as simple as possible—highlighting quality local ingredients. The bounty of Maryland farms and Chesapeake specialties make menus with fresh, seasonal ingredients the norm in Baltimore. Check out a handful of area chefs and restaurant owners’ take on their relationships with local purveyors.
Enrique Limardo, Executive Chef at Alma Cocina Latina, on Why He Uses Local Food Vendors
Located in the Canton neighborhood, Alma Cocina Latino is a Venezuelan restaurant dedicated to sourcing ingredients from responsible farms and highlighting them with care.
"I believe that ingredients from local vendors are one of many wonderful complements—and fundamental elements—to Alma Cocina Latina's concept and menu. We highlight our Venezuelan culinary roots using ancient and contemporary techniques with slowly prepared food. Venezuelan cuisine is all about showcasing a symphony of flavors using simple, fresh, local ingredients. So we have connected with local farmers and the soil to get the best from them. For example, we purchase our pork and lamb from Rortega Farms, aji dulce peppers from One Straw Farm, and corn from Zahradka Farm-- all are within 30 miles of our restaurant. This way, we know that our diners will enjoy fresh, natural and truly authentic flavor enhanced by the way we prepare it.
Zack Mills, Executive Chef at Wit & Wisdom, on Using a Local Meat Supplier
Wit & Wisdom, an elevated tavern located inside Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore in Harbor East, seasonally sources meats from Catoctin Mountain Farms, which is dedicated to a “beyond-organic” approach for their woodland and pastured animals.
“We choose to work with Catoctin Mountain Farm because of their dedication and passion for their craft. Their operation provides a happy, healthy and natural environment for their livestock, which allows the farm to provide nutritious, superior quality meats for their customers.”
Jason Sanchez, Co-Owner at Modern Cook Shop, on Using Dairy from Family Farms
Modern Cook Shop—a Fell’s Point restaurant, market, bar and cafe—knows that a good latte begins with great milk. That’s why the shop uses Trickling Springs Creamery, renowned for its discerning taste and wholesome products.
“We're huge fans of Trickling Springs Creamery, which was founded in 2001 by two friends who aimed to produce fresh, exceptional-tasting dairy products while promoting local farmers doing an excellent job with their farms. They hold strict guidelines for the family farms producing their milk, only maintaining grass-fed heritage breed cows to product clean milk with no synthetic hormones, which is then processed as minimally as allowed by law. They've been with us from our opening and people love their milk, especially their dark chocolate milk. It's really delicious stuff and is especially delicious in your morning coffee."
Lou Sumpter, Chef de Cuisine at Woodberry Kitchen, on His Relationship with Farmers
Local pioneers of the farm-to-table movement, Woodberry Kitchen always has ingredients from Moon Valley Farm on their ever-evolving menu. Moon Valley Farms is a small scale, woman-owned farm and CSA in Baltimore County Maryland growing a wide variety of vegetables, herbs, flowers and native fruits using biological and organically-approved growing methods.
"At Woodberry Kitchen, we've had a long, fulfilling relationship with Moon Valley since it was just a garden in Emma's (Jagoz, founder of Moon Valley) backyard to the acres of land they manage now. They produce some of the most beautiful crops around, no-holds-barred. We highlight their produce on our menus year-round, including summer squash, wood sorrel, magic mollie potatoes, jimmy nardello peppers, spring garlic and more.”
Jerry Trice, executive chef at Gunther & Co., on Sourcing Oysters
Gunther & Co. has emerged as one of the hottest new spots for one of Baltimore’s oldest traditions—oyster happy hour. The team works with local oystermen who collect and harvest directly from the source.
“Our ingredient sourcing program strives to build upon local, long-lasting relationships to ensure the ingredients we receive are the absolute freshest available. Our oyster sourcing is a great example of this. We work with two local oystermen. The first is Mike Manyak of Sapidus Farms’ Happy Oyster. He is part of his oysters’ journey from beginning to end, including picking up the shells after consumption to then be recycled. The second is War Shore Oyster Company, who source oysters from a couple of local oystermen and have them overnighted and delivered to Gunther & Co. to ensure the freshest product possible”.