You'd be hard pressed these days to pick up an issue of your favorite food magazine and not find a couple of articles about how this restaurant or that chef is sourcing locally – providing seasonal ingredients and sustainable meat and fish.
This movement has become less of a novelty and more the exemplar of "new" American cuisine. As chefs and restaurants angle to solicit their targeted markets, the industry edict of sustainability has brought with it a pomp and pizzazz that has effectively gilded many restaurant concepts. As a marketing tool, however, it has begun to seem superfluous because, in many places, it has simply become the customer's expectation.
This is a good thing.
The popularity of books and movies that have unearthed the truth behind the food we eat has given the movement a full head of steam. Chefs (myself among them) are moving away from primary vendor relationships to other "mom and pop" distributors that enthusiastically specialize in just a few things and disclose all...
It may surprise you to know that many chefs go out for lunch. It's not that we don't want to eat our own food, but working an open-to-close shift often leaves some time in the middle of the day, and who doesn't like a change of scenery?
Once food orders are placed and lunch service is wrapped up, I might take a drive or a walk to any one of a number of local, not fast food, but let's say quick-food joints. I like the soft tacos at Chipotle Mexican Grill. I also enjoy the tuna and the cheesesteak at Cousin's Subs. Occasionally, after ordering my food, the high school girl at the cash register will glaringly survey my attire – a chef's coat emblazoned with the words "Justin Johnson, Executive Chef" – and with a screwy face, ask, "Why are you eating here?"
I usually chuckle and say something like, "A chef's gotta eat too."
But why do we eat at these places? Why do we buy the things we do at the grocery store? Relax, it's not an existential query. We already know why. It's fast. It's cheap. A...