Friday, February 16, 2018

Lovely's Fifty-Fifty Chef Nabs Beard Nomination

The James Beard awards are considered the Oscars of the food world. Yesterday one of Portland's most dedicated chefs—and one of my favorite people—Sarah Minnick of Lovely's Fifty-Fifty, was named a semi-finalist in the Best Chef NW category.

Sarah was featured in an article I wrote in 2015 about women chefs who "are turning the tables on business-as-usual by nixing the giant cans of sauces, bags of salad greens and feedlot meats that supply most restaurants, even in the foodie heaven known as Portland. You won’t find big trucks from industrial food distributors pulling up to their doors and burly guys with pallet jacks and hand trucks wheeling crates of supplies shipped in from out of state. Instead, following in the footsteps of chefs like Cathy Whims of Nostrana, these women are working to buy their supplies direct from local farmers, who deliver produce and meats in the backs of beat-up pickups and vans, unloading crates overflowing with fresh produce mere hours after they’ve been harvested from the fields."

From the article:

One look at owner Sarah Minnick’s pizzas will tell you instantly that this chef is serious about farm-fresh produce. Her pizzas are pictures of crave-worthy perfection—circular works of art brimming with local greens, cheeses and a sauce from tomatoes harvested at the peak of their flavor, preserved so her customers can taste summer even deep in a Northwest winter.

You’ll see unusual ingredients like summer squash, quinoa greens, potatoes and local cured meats adorning her pies, in addition to the occasional drizzle of honey from Bee Local, a Portland company whose hives are scattered around the state, taking their flavors from flowers wild and domesticated. Not unlike Sarah herself, who buzzes around local farms and farmers’ markets collecting ingredients like a honeybee collects pollen.

Dig a little deeper and you’ll find her handmade pizza dough is made from the whole grains and artisan flours of Camas Country Mill in the central Willamette Valley and organic flour from employee-owned Central Milling in Utah. And she sources the organic custard base for her extraordinary ice cream from Strauss Family Creamery, adding berries and fruit from area farms, along with more exotic flavorings from the leaves of peach, fig and bay.

Looking at her accounts from last year, Minnick said she was able to purchase nearly 90 percent of her ingredients from local sources [now more than 98 percent - KB]. While that may sound like a foolish way to run a small business, if you ask about the economics of buying direct from farmers versus large distributors, she said that the cost works out to be pretty much the same, since farmers are much more careful about the quality of their produce, meaning it’s less work to prep and less of it ends up in the compost.

She’s thrilled to be working directly with farmers, "actually knowing who is growing it and why and how," and finds the enthusiasm of some of Oregon’s younger farmers infectious. "They don’t have a lot of the weird old baggage," she said of their eagerness to try growing new crops.

And after three years of running the kitchen at Lovely’s? "I’m addicted to it," she said. "I love coming into work."

Photos from an event at Ayers Creek Farm.


Anonymous said...

This is so cool!

Kathleen Bauer said...

Sarah is so awesome…great to see her getting acknowledged for it!