Wisconsin Foodie recently featured Burlington, WI Farmer Jonathan Stich as he personally delivered produce to the likes of Grant Achatz of Alinea, Dave Beran of Next and Anthony Martin of Tru. Our journey was documented for a Food Informants piece on huffingtonpost.com.
Jonathan Stich, Restaurant Delivery Farmer: A Week In The Life (Food Informants)
Food Informants is a week-in-the-life series profiling fascinating people in the food world. We hope it will give you a first-hand look at the many different corners of the food industry. Know someone who would make a great Food Informant? Tell us why.
Jonathan Stich, 29, is a third generation farmer from Burlington, Wisconsin. He grew weary of the corporate world, went traveling and decided to become a farmer. After reading about how heirloom tomato grower Tim Stark in Pennsylvania sells his products to New York restaurants, Stich made the decision to spend a night in restaurants in Milwaukee and Chicago asking if they’d be interesting in buying local produce.
In the summer of 2010, Anthony Martin, who had just taken over for Rick Tramonto at Chicago’s TRU, was his first customer. In 2011, after bugging Dave Beran (then of Alinea, now the chef of Next restaurant) through Facebook all winter, Beran invited Stich to bring him some samples of micro greens. Stich knew Alinea was important in the Chicago restaurant scene, but didn’t know who Grant Achatz was. Dave connected Stich to Matt Chasseur (sous chef at Alinea), who placed his first order for pea tendrils, and explained a centerpiece project he was working on. He asked Stich if there were any varieties of a cherry tomato plant that would fit on a table, so the diner could pluck the them as they ate. Stich decided to impress him the next week by bringing in grafted cherry tomato plants — three different fruit-bearing tomato plants that are cut and grafted together into one stem. It would give the diner the illusion that one plant could produce three different fruits. While Stich was standing at the pass in the Alinea kitchen examining his creations, someone tapped his elbow. When he looked up, Chasseur was standing there with Grant Achatz. He explained the concept and for his ace card he showed them a bucket filled with five pounds of large blonde morels. Between Alinea, Aviary and Next, they have placed an order every week since.
Along with those Chicago restaurants, Stich also supplies TRU, Le Reve, Cafe at the Plaza and Honeypie Cafe.
Read Jonathan Stich’s diary below to learn about the life of a farmer and find out how he satisfies the demands of some of the country’s top restaurants.
S08 E06 – In this episode, we join George Bregar at Company Brewing as he makes a pale ale with fresh, locally sourced hops. Then we celebrate Oktoberfest with Deb and Dan Carey of New Glarus Brewing.
Wisconsin Foodie is organizing Cheesemaker tours this Spring/Summer and we’d like you to join us.
S08 E05 – This week we tour the driftless region and visit Driftless Organics, Viroqua Food Co-Op, and Rooted Spoon.
S08 E04 – In this episode, we tour Henning’s and Widmer’s cheese with Gordon Edgar, and then we enjoy a dinner at L’Etoile to celebrate Hook’s 20 Year Cheddar.
S08 E02 – In this episode of Wisconsin Foodie, Dan O’ Leary shares his beekeeping knowledge at Honey Valley Beekeeping. Kyle Cherek tours Michael Fields Agricultural Institute and enjoys an on-site dinner.
S08 E01 – In this episode of Wisconsin Foodie, Kyle Cherek and Jessica Bell explores the fine culinary delicacies of the Wisconsin State Fair.
On the season finale of Wisconsin Foodie, we visit Schreiner’s Restaurant, Bay View Packing company, and close it out with Wolski’s.
It’s deer season this week on Wisconsin Foodie! Keith Warnke from the Department of Natural Resources guides us as well as Kyle through the Wisconsin tradition of hunting.
This week, we eat some of Roelli Cheese’s award winning cheese and make some incredible dishes with it at Driftless Café.
This week, we load on the carbs with Amaranth Bakery and Madison Sourdough Company.