Chef Tim Kilcoyne, owner of the Sidecar Restaurant in Ventura, Calif., was raised on a farm, where he learned the importance of the "farm to table" relationship. Sourcing his produce from local growers is central to his philosophy, but he takes the relationship a step further. Early every Saturday, Kilcoyne heads to the Ventura Farmer's Market, chooses the most intriguing selections of the day, and then goes to work in a makeshift on-site "kitchen," preparing inventive dishes for an eager audience.
"Farmers are like chefs," Kilcoyne says. "They love having new ingredients or seeds to play around with. (But) if the consumer doesn't know how to cook with it, it won't sell." If it doesn't sell, the farmers stop growing it and that means Kilcoyne has to do without some of his favorite ingredients like fava beans or even heirloom tomatoes. His improvisational market cooking sessions let him pass on his knowledge to customers, champion odd ingredients, and ensure that his kitchen staples continue to flourish. And, he adds, "It's nice to cook outdoors once in awhile with the shades on!"
By Lesley Jacobs, a food writer in Stevenson Ranch, Calif.