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The perks of being a locavore

Auburn chef promotes farm-fresh and locally grown food
By: Amy Lobenberg, Journal Correspondent
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The Ridge Bar and Grill
Where:
2020 Golf Course Road, Auburn
Hours: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily

Auburn chef Bert Beattie includes local, farm-fresh ingredients on his menu at The Ridge Bar and Grill. Located at The Ridge Golf Course, the bar and grill overlooks the rolling hills of Placer County which, according to Beattie, provides an ideal growing environment for a wide variety of regional food.
 “We have one of the most diverse selections of crops available in the United States. From wine, to meat, to produce, and everything in between,” Beattie said.
According to Beattie, the farm to fork movement started with Alice Waters and her restaurant, Chez Panisse in Berkeley. Then it spread to Sacramento, where Mayor Kevin Johnson proclaimed his city and the surrounding region the farm to fork capital of the United States. Now, the movement is gaining popularity in the foothills where chefs like Beattie have been advocating on behalf of local farmers and ingredients.
Beattie was born and raised in San Jose. He graduated from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Scottsdale, Arizona and previously worked at Roxy Restaurant and Bar in Sacramento, which is known for including local ingredients on its menu. Beattie decided to carry on the trend of local farm to fork dining when he took over The Ridge Bar and Grill six months ago.
“The community here in Auburn is great,” Beattie said. “They’re really open, but kind of set in their ways. It’s a bit tougher to get people’s eyes open here, but several of my customer’s approve. Local food is healthier and invests more money into the community. Any time you can push money into a community, it helps. Here in Auburn, it’s so important.”
According to Placer County Agricultural Commissioner Joshua Huntsinger, Auburn benefits from investing in local farming and growing.
“There are a couple of benefits from eating locally,” Huntsinger said.” “One, the quality of food is excellent. Some of the best meals I have ever had have come from local food diners. Second, when you support local farmers you are keeping your dollars local. Third, is a term that I learned called ‘eat the view,’ which means when you support local farmers, you support open space preservation in Placer County.”
Huntsinger has ob-served an increase in the interest of farm to fork eating in the area.
“There are a core group of people who are aware of local food,” Huntsinger said. “Our goal is to expand that local view. Auburn is our strongest farmer’s market in the county.”
Although The Ridge Bar and Grill does not include a complete farm to fork list of ingredients, Beattie hopes that someday it will.
“I try to keep things seasonal and as fresh as possible, but it’s tough,” Beattie said. “Farms are struggling right now. Due to immigration issues, several have lost their usual workers. It’s also hard for them to expand, it gets very expensive. I would love to see more community organizations based on this kind of stuff. I would love to see something that is Placer County-centric.”
For now, Beattie hopes that The Ridge Bar and Grill, along with the local ingredients featured on its menu, can help spread the word about the benefits of being a localvore.
“I want people to care about it. That’s why I’m doing it,” Beattie said. “I learned early on in my career, when a chef told me: ‘You don’t cook for other people, you cook for yourself. If you are truly as good as you hope you are, then other people will come with you and follow.’”
The Ridge facilities can seat up to 500 guests and hosts the biggest Sunday brunch in Auburn. This year The Ridge Bar and Grill will have an Easter Sunday brunch on March 31 and a Mother’s Day brunch on May 12. Several menu selections will include local ingredients.
“We are busy enough to eventually be open for more brunches and select farm-fresh dinners,” Beattie said. “I’m trying to do this in a reasonable way with an affordable menu. I’m trying to show that you don’t have to spend a lot of money to eat seasonal, fresh, local ingredients.”