“Did you know ginger and asparagus could be grown in Massachusetts?!”
Green Spotlight on: Cuisine en Locale, by HEEC Member Amanda Rich
Cuisine en Locale restaurant executive chef Sean O’Brien excitedly spoke of hidden gem ingredients that many local residents are simply unaware can be sourced from the New England area. Maximizing their offerings to customers by using amazing seasonal flavor combinations, your average pesto elevates to a mind-blowing level of toasted pepitas, pressed squash seed oil, aromatic garlic, and zesty ramps.
Initiated by business owner JJ Gonson ten years ago as a personal chef service and catering business, Cuisine en Locale has since expanded to include a “farm to fridge” meal delivery service and bar lounge open for Monday night tacos and small plates on weekends. Declaring their primary mission to utilize only locally sourced ingredients, Cuisine en Locale maintains a continuous relationship with local farmers and farming cooperatives. Giving their customers the ability to practice the mantra of “knowing where your food comes from” is an amazingly simply concept, yet it is often overlooked as long-distance food distribution becomes more routine.
While other restaurants are shipping large pallets of produce cross-country, Cuisine en Locale is reliant on the rapid change of seasonal ingredient availability. Often unsure of what may arrive week to week, the chefs collaborate and utilize their creative element to develop spontaneous weekly menus. Culinary imagination is necessary to locate substitutes for flavors we often take for granted; India black peppercorns are set aside for the array of local hot chili peppers, Mediterranean olive oil takes the back burner for locally pressed sunflower and squash seed oils, and citrus is replaced with the acidic flavor of wood sorrel. Operating a business [where the ingredient supply and menu changes weekly] is extraordinarily challenging, but kitchen manager Sandra Aronson explains “if you provide yourself with enough cushion and your customers with enough options, you will never be at a loss.”
For the extraordinarily busy patron looking to wean themselves off of processed foods and take out, Cuisine en Locale’s “Once a Week” food delivery service is the equivalent of having a personal chef in your kitchen. Similar to a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) model, Cuisine en Locale provides the amazingly delicious link between local farms and hungry customers desiring more than another fast food meal. Patrons can opt to have their meals delivered via eco-efficient bike delivery, or can pick up their weekly food at a variety of locations. “Once A Week” menus have included seasonal arrays like grass-fed chuck roast tenderly braised with North Star Farm chipotles and Valicenti tomatoes, roasted Red Fire Farm carrots topped with garlic eggplant puree and Mapleline Farm heavy cream, and Sofia’s Greek yogurt cheesecake with Green Mountain Orchard blueberries and Maine sea salt. Sign me up!
Once Lounge (open Monday taco night, Thursday-Saturday cash bar)
156 Highland Avenue, Somerville, Massachusetts 02143
617.285.0167 | firstname.lastname@example.org