From Farm to Commercial Tables
It’s just the beginning of the summer market season, and the Carmel Farmers Market (CFM) has been busy launching its newest program—Farm2Table—aimed at building brands for local chefs and their restaurants, its vendors and for CFM as a whole.
CFM President Ron Carter informed us that the program has signed up Vivante at the Hotel Carmichael, Tucci’s, Matt the Millers and Mandele. An additional four Carmel restaurants will be added to the program in the near future.
“We see this as a means to advertise the presence of the chef and his or her restaurant at the market,” Carter said. “Look for these top chefs next time you’re at the market. You’ll recognize their presence by the custom logoed John Deere wagons filled with food from our vendors. And be sure to patronize their restaurants where you will be served with the finest and freshest locally grown foods from some of the best Indiana farmers and producers.”
What’s Cooking in the Local Kitchens?
We had the pleasure of shopping at the market on opening day alongside Chef Jason Crouch, director of food and beverage at Hotel Carmichael and Vivante French Eatery.
Chef Crouch is from Muncie, Indiana, and grew up in the farmers market environment working alongside his mother at their local farmers market.
“Supporting local is very important to me, as is building those partnerships,” Chef Crouch said. “I prefer not to work with ‘vendors’ but rather partners. We have to build a relationship that benefits them and us.”
We stopped at the Muncie Mushrooms booth where Chef Crouch selected a variety of beautiful and unique mushrooms for a wedding banquet he was to prepare later that afternoon that featured a braised short rib with sauteed local mushrooms.
Chef Crouch added, “Mushrooms are very versatile, and you can do a lot of different things with them as long as you treat them right. You don’t want to just chop away at them. You want to kind of leave them in their natural form, and you don’t want to salt them before you cook them. It’s going to pull the moisture out of the mushrooms—which are mostly water. When you do that, you’re just going to get this mushy product no matter how you cook it. So, treating them right from the get-go is very important. You just want to let the food shine through—you don’t have to do anything crazy to make it great if you start with great products.”
Asparagus TIPS (See what we did there?)
We walked over to Van Antwerp’s booth to take a look at their produce. The asparagus was calling to Chef Crouch.
“You want the asparagus to have a nice ‘pop’ when you break it,” Chef Crouch shared. “If it’s getting too old, it will be flimsy, and if it’s too mature, it will get really thick and ‘woody.’ The thinner the asparagus, the more tender it’s going to be. I lightly oil, salt and pepper it and bake it for 8 to 10 minutes in a 450-degree oven. I love to grill it, but in time constraints and banquet settings, it is necessary to bake, but what I will do sometimes is grill mark it, so we get that flavor from the grill and then finish it in the oven.”
Be sure to visit Vivante French Eatery at Hotel Carmichael to enjoy Chef Crouch’s creations as well as the beautiful ambiance and attentive staff! Visit vivantecarmel.com for more information.
From Booth to Brick-and-Mortar
Jacob and Amanda Baird are two ambitious and hardworking CFM vendors who have delighted countless popcorn fanatics with their popular brand Groomsville Popcorn. The young couple has recently expanded their enterprise and opened East Street Provisions in Tipton, Indiana.
The restaurant once housed the local fire department and bike shop. It features an amazing outdoor covered dining area at the front entrance and garage-style doors that roll up during good weather days. Inside, patrons will find additional seating and a variety of locally made and produced products for sale—including Groomsville popcorn. Some of these local products are featured in the Baird’s menu and coffee offerings.
East Street Provisions has provided its community with a comfortable gathering place where all are welcome, and the food and beverages are outstanding. Jacob and Amanda shared that they look forward to expanding their hours once they have hired on some additional employees.
“It’s really important for us to create a community spot that highlights our local vendors,” Amanda expressed. “Saturdays are a blast because we do our donuts and usually have anywhere from six to nine different flavors. We got this [donut-making] machine that allows us to make them in front of everyone.”
Both Jacob and Amanda expressed their gratitude for all the support that CFM have given them as they have continued to grow their business and noted that CFM was the first market that Jacob sold Groomsville Popcorn from.
Amanda concluded, “Carmel Farmers Market was the first [farmers] market that we ever did with Groomsville Popcorn, and they definitely helped launch us and helped Jacob and I become better business owners.”
Please follow East Street Provisions on Facebook and Instagram and make the short drive up to Tipton to see their new restaurant/storefront! You’ll be glad you did!
For more information on CFM and an entire list of vendors, visit carmelfarmersmarket.com.
East Street Provisions
Where: 115 North East Street, Tipton
Hours: 10 a.m.–2 p.m. Tuesday–Friday. 9 a.m.–2 p.m. Saturdays
Phone: (765) 551-7141