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Wednesday, 16 March 2016 19:57

What is a Sustainable Restaurant?

Sustainable RestaurantAll across America, a new focus on sustainability has been taking root. But many people don't associate the restaurant industry, notorious for its food waste, with sustainable ideals. A sustainable restaurant isn't a contradiction in terms, however - it's just a new kind of dining experience.

Sustainable dining is conscious dining. It is a commitment to the ethical sourcing of food, and a closer relationship with the world that creates it.

In contrast to restaurants which offer a uniform dining experience all year round, a sustainable restaurant's menu shifts with the reality of the outside world. Foods come into season and go out of season; local populations of fish rise and fall, and other ingredients may or may not be locally available. The food you eat when you're dining out sustainably is a reflection of the world you inhabit.

This means that sustainable dining can also introduce you to foods you may not have encountered in a restaurant before. You may have heard about Trash Fish Dinners planned by chef Stephen Phelps, where fish species commonly discarded as trash by commercial fishing operations were given a chance to shine on the dinner plate. Broadly speaking, and with all consideration for regional cuisine, America still has a fairly common palette when it comes to meats, seafood, and produce, which can overshadow local species which aren't grown in a hothouse year-round and shipped to all corners of the continent.

When you visit a sustainable restaurant, you're visiting a place where food is placed in a larger, kinder environmental context. And in doing so, you're broadening your own horizons. Learn more about what sustainability means by visiting Indigenous today!

Chef Steve PhelpsChef Phelps has been invited to cook at the biggest James Beard Foundation Celebrity Chef Tour this year, happening this April in Nashville! 

The James Beard Foundation is a national non-for-profit organization based in New York City, whose mission is to celebrate, nurture, and honor America's diverse culinary heritage through programs that educate and inspire. They are dedicated to exploring the way food enriches our lives, and offer a variety of events and programs that are designed to educate, inspire, entertain, and foster a deeper understanding of our culinary culture. 

The Celebrity Chef Tour is the biggest James Beard Celebrity Chef Dinner of the year. Held in Nashville, Tennessee at the Hutton Hotel, there will be an all star line up of award winning chefs including Chef Phelps! There will be a reception from 6pm to 7pm followed by a 6 course dinner prepared by the chefs.

Click here for more details and to buy tickets for the event! 

Thursday, 25 February 2016 15:44

7th Annual Chefs Collaborative Summit

Chefs Collaborative SummitJoin Chef Steve Phelps at the 7th Annual Chefs Collaborative Summit, Good Food is Smart Business, taking place at New York University's Kimmel Center in New York City, April 10-12thMore than 350 chefs and food professionals will gather in the heart of Greenwich Village to explore the intersections of good food, the environment, finance, workers rights, and public policy. 
We hope you can make it for 3 days of connecting and making change in our food system - from keynotes, to hands-on workshops, to collaborative meals across the city! For tickets and details go to #ChefSummit16

Presenter List and Schedule

Who's speaking:




Be sure to RSVP for the Summit with your COMPLIMENTARY Local pass, then sign up for a Summit workshop before they fill up!


Field Trips

Sign up for a NYC good food field trip before the tix are gone! Join fellow Local Leader Sara Grady for an exploration of the NY Cider Scene:


Travel and Lodging

All details here:

Locally Sourced FoodSmall, independent family farms have been disappearing in recent years and now only account for about 16 percent of consumer food produced in America. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has reported that the number of farms in the country has declined by nearly 40 percent the past half century. Here are reasons to support locally sourced food.

Cleaner Solution

Your support for locally sourced food helps preserve the environment. By cutting travel out of the equation, you are contributing to fewer carbon emissions. The sooner you consume the food, the less need there is for chemical preservatives. Many local farmers who stay up to date on environmental issues avoid dangerous chemicals anyway.

Farms Help the Local Economy

The farming industry helps provide jobs for the community, so supporting local farms helps a series of local businesses. The more you can keep money in the community, the more you will contribute to a sustainable community. Farms provide food to grocery stores, caterers and restaurants. By supporting local farmers, you are minimizing their handling and transportation costs.

Healthy Fresh Food

Locally sourced food is a top choice among people who aim for a healthy lifestyle. The less food has to travel, the more its nutrients will be preserved. Fresh fruits and vegetables are important components to a healthy meal.

Better Taste

The added benefit to eating fresh foods is that they taste better as well, partly because the produce doesn't need to be picked early for distribution reasons. One of the secrets to better tasting produce is that it is grown naturally in season instead of in an off-season greenhouse. Independent farmers like to experiment with unique crops for niche marketing purposes. That's why you will find amazing new flavors for crops like peppers at local farmers' markets.

Preserving Local Identity

Some small family farms have become an important part of local history, inspiring stories of how family businesses can prevail for generations. You are contributing to local culture by supporting local farmers. Some of the ways farms help shape local culture are with crop diversity and quality.

Spreading the Word

The best way to help local farmers is to tell your friends about the benefits of locally sourced food. Supporting local farmers is helpful to the environment and the economy. Let people know that they can empower themselves through sustainable agriculture and have clear knowledge where their food comes from.

Stop by Indigenous and see why sustainably raised food is the best kind of food!

Sustainable FoodRecently, you may have noticed a growing movement when it comes to food shopping and consumption. For the first time in a long time, people are starting to pay attention to where their food comes from. This is more than just reading labels, although that is always a good idea! 

More and more, people are choosing fresh, sustainable foods, grown locally, and grown and produced in a responsible, sustainable way. This includes meats as well as vegetables and fruits. When you start paying attention to where your food comes from and how it is grown, produced, harvested and prepared, you are taking control of your health. But even more than that, you are helping your community.

Be A Local Hero
By patronizing local growers and providers of food who use responsible practices, you are enabling them to continue providing their produce and meat to the community. This is important, as they can't continue without support from their community.

Help Change Big Food Business
When you avoid mass growers of pesticide-laden produce and inhumanely raised meat, you are sending a message with your dollars that can help promote change.

It's happening already with more companies choosing healthier ways of producing food, but it is important to be vigilant, as many will simply stick a "natural" or "sustainable" label on foods or package it differently in the hopes you won't dig deeper. Many food labels, such as "natural" are not regulated.

Meat Matters
When it comes to meat, people are becoming more and more aware that it matters how the animal was raised. Another question to ask yourself when selecting meat is "what does my food eat?" Did the animal eat low-grade, pesticide-laden or genetically altered grains with little nutritional value? Did the animal spend its life in poor conditions? Or, was it able to roam free, eating its natural food source, vitamin rich grass?

Sustainable foods are better for the environment, and healthier for you and your family. Eating foods that are grown locally improves the economy in your community. Choosing meat that is treated humanely results in healthy animals, a healthier environment and healthier people.

So, eat fresh, eat local and eat organic. The more people consume sustainable foods, the more the bigger corporations will have to start changing their current practices.

Meat Matters 1On December 14th, Chef Phelps and Tracy Freeman, the Local Leaders of Chefs Collaborative Sarasota chapter, put together an event called Meat Matters to teach about sustainably raised meats.

The event took place a Made restaurant in downtown Sarasota and featured 7 of the area's focused chefs, and we are happy to say we had a sold out event! Thank you to our sponsors: Edible Sarasota, Turtle Beach Natural Foods, Niman Ranch, Joyce Farms, and High Plains Ranch.
There were speakers from each company to educate diners on choosing humanely raised meats and the horrible effects of using commodity meats in confinement operations. Here are some pictures from the event!
Chef Phelps at Meat Matters
Steve with Sous Chef, Andrew
Meat Matters 2
Paul Willis, Tracy Freeman, Steve Phelps
Meat Matters 3
Paul Willis and Steve Phelps
Wednesday, 09 December 2015 17:40

Why You Should Eat Sustainable Foods

IMG 0658As people become more conscious of healthier food choices as well as protecting the environment, there are many reasons to learn more about sustainable foods. Essentially, sustainability means keeping an efficient level of food supply such as fish in the ocean without disrupting the ecosystem through over-consumption. Here are facts on how we can contribute to maintaining the supply of sustainable foods while making better choices on nutrition.

Diversity of Choices
The best way to stay healthy while protecting the environment is to diversify our food choices. By educating yourself about which foods are most available for each season, you can help reduce the carbon footprint involved with shipping foods from around the world. Instead of relying on importing food from other countries when it is not in season in your own area, it's better to focus on the food that is readily more available locally.

When it comes to fish, there are hundreds of commercial species, so there are plenty of choices during any given season. When public demand is more reflective of availability according to the season rather than personal appetite, it helps avoid higher shipping costs and keeps fisheries more consistent with natural sustainability.

Steps Toward Progress
Instead of waiting for others to change the world, if everyone takes an interest in learning about the environmental impact of food production, we won't have to guess or worry about the future as much. Cutting down on food waste is an important step toward this goal. One of the most efficient ways to cut down on water use in growing crops is with hydroponic farming, which produces more yield at a faster rate than conventional farming and doesn't require chemicals.

Factors That Threaten Sustainability

  • land degradation
  • drought
  • water extraction from irrigation
  • dependence on fossil fuels
  • greenhouse gas emissions
  • phosphorus depletion
  • impact of herbicides and pesticides
  • overfishing in fisheries

Share Information
Social media allows you to share your voice with the world like no other communications medium in history. Remind your friends how we're all on the same team and share the same home called Earth, so it's up to us to preserve our resources. Compromising the Earth's ability to supply sufficient amounts of food in the future through exploitation should be avoided. Try to encourage others to take an interest in topics such as agriculture and renewable energy. Spreading insights on sustainable foods works best in a positive tone.

If you'd like to get a taste of sustainable food locally, stop by Indigenous today!

Monday, 23 November 2015 16:22

Meat Matters Sarasota

Chef Phelps is proud to be a part of the Meat Matters Sarasota event, held on Monday, December 14th. Meat Matters is a celebration of sustainably-raised meat and an exploration of the issues surrounding producing and eating meat.

Chef Phelps will have a station at this event, and each station will be creating dishes featuring bison, lamb, beef, pork, chicken, vegetables, and grains. There will also be local spirits, wine, beer, and a silent auction.

Tickets are on sale now, and the event is expected to sell out early so buy them now
here! A portion of the proceeds benefit Chefs Collaborative scholarship and education programs.

Check out the full event details below!

 Meat Matters 4 x 7

Meat Matters 2

Friday, 13 November 2015 18:24

Where Does the Seafood You Eat Come From?

seafood111315While Americans love seafood, few know its sources. Unlike with produce and meat companies, there is often not a lot in the way of record-keeping that would allow consumers to find out where their seafood comes from. This information is crucial if you want to know the ecological implications of your consumption.

By making the right dining choices, you can help to support solutions for healthier oceans. Paying attention to the sources of fish sends a strong message to both government leaders and to leaders of the fishing industry that you support responsible stewardship of the planet’s oceans.

About Sustainable Seafood
This can be defined as fish that has been harvested in a way that allows populations to be maintained or increased over time. Seafood is only sustainable if it can be harvested without endangering the health or function of the oceanic ecosystem. If you want to buy only sustainable fish, you will have to find out where it is from.

Sustainable Sources
Ideally, your fish should be from sustainable capture fisheries. These fisheries are less vulnerable to fishing pressure and thus are less likely to be overfished. They use fishing techniques that minimize the potential for catching unwanted species. These techniques also maintain natural relationships between species in the ecosystem.

How to Tell if What You Buy is from a Sustainable Source
If you are eating out, ask the restaurant if their fish supply is from a sustainable source. Many chefs have purchasing policies to ensure that the product they buy comes from sustainable fisheries. Those purchasing policies may also cover the type of processing the fish undergoes before it gets to your plate. You should also ask how it was caught, whether by bottom trawling, driftnets or long lines. All of these methods are associated with catching large amounts of unwanted species. Opt for fish caught with more sustainable methods like handlines, pots or jigs.

Your menu choices as well as where you choose to eat can help with the replenishment of overfished waters. The key is to find out the source of the seafood that winds up on your plate.

For a menu full of fresh, sustainable seafood choices, come visit us at Indigenous!

Chef Phelps Cooking with KidsChef Phelps has joined First Lady Michelle Obama's movement "Chefs Move to Schools," a program that calls on chefs to join the fight against childhood obesity. Each chef adopts a school and works with teachers, parents, school nutrition professionals and administrators to help children make healthy food choices and show them that it can be fun and delicious! Here are some pictures from Chef Phelps visit as well as a little bit about his view on this program.    
How did you get involved & how can other chefs participate?
I was approached to get involved through the director of Food and Nutritional services for Sarasota County Schools, Beverly Girard and her team, as well as teachers and parents who were fans of ours.
Why do you think this organization is important?
This organization is an amazing movement. These schools only get a budget of just under $1 a day to put together healthy meals for the kids. Now it is up to us as chefs to be able to utilize the grants and funding that is available to them to teach better methods of cooking, better ingredients and more creative ideas.
What is your take on childhood obesity and what can/should be done about it?
Childhood obesity is the result of poor nutrition programs in school as well as poor nutrition education for parents. We need to teach the schools and the parents who feed these children. But, keep in mind that a lot of this stems from the affordability of healthy food which has to change very soon. Example: a McDonald's KIds Meal is $1.99, whereas an apple and yogurt is $4.00.
Chefs Move to School 2
Are there any cute or funny stories from your experience?
Working with fifth graders was actually a blast, and it was interesting to hear what they thought good food was. We discussed what they would like to eat at lunch and we talked about what they don't want for lunch. The funniest thing was that I taught them how to bake chickpeas in the oven and make them crispy to put on top of our fried rice dish or as a snack. Then they learned that peas sounded like "please" and all day all night that was the joke, yes "peas", pretty "peas" and so on until my head was gonna explode.
Chefs Move to Schools
You can read more about the "Chefs Move to Schools" program here
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