Chef Evan Mallett of Black Trumpet Bistro in Portsmouth, New Hampshire
With the advent of the Food Network, Chefs have become celebrities. Influencing tastes and markets with a single "bam", American cuisine has become very different than just a few decades ago with chefs leading the way.
Americans eat out 4 - 5 times per week, and the supposed preference is for "American Food." Other statistics place at least one of these meals at a fast food chain restaurant. I think it is more actually, but that is what CBS polls and the National Restaurant Association reports.
The world is currently going through it's sixth mass extinction, only this time we can't blame it on an asteroid hit. It is human behavior driven by the pollution and commodification of nature. In no where is this more apparent than in the realm of food. Just 50 years ago, there were hundreds of varieties of tomatoes and apples, corn and pumpkins. With the mass marketing of food, and the exponential rise of chain restaurants, serving the same menu items all over the nation, the demand for different varieties of foods has vanished. There are chefs that take their role in shaping food trends to mean more than a quick buck.
Chef Evan Mallett of Black Trumpet Bistro is one of them. He networks with several communities, Slow Food, The Chefs Collaborative and The Heirloom Harvest Project to educate his community on the benefits of eating soft shell lobster and long pie pumpkins. His menu items are all locally sourced and seasonally inspired, in what I would call locavore fusion ecstasy but that is just me. Check out his menu at http://www.blacktrumpetbistro.com/
By making what he calls a Soft Shell Lobster roll and what I would call New England Atlantic bounty on a bun, he manages to combine a little known local seafood that will help preserve century old fishing families livelihoods, help reduce the strain on typical hard shell lobsters populations that are being fished to extinction, and well, it just tasted fantastic. The description on his menu I call food haiku.
In Chinese Medicine, the element descriptor for digestion and nourishment is the Earth element. It's taste association is sweet. The imbalance of the Earth Element in this paradigm shows up as diabetes and obesity. I have always been struck at how separated from the Earth we are, specifically in our modern foods. Maybe the reason we over eat is we hunger for the Earth. Mallet provides foods grown locally and from heirloom traditions to show how delicious they are, worthy of interest and preservation. He is branching out to a second restaurant, Hopestill Garage that will also feature local heirloom foods but in a more casual atmosphere.
Through all that he and wife Denise do through their business and civic activities, they are working to reconnect their community with the bounty of the land we all share. In this small but profound way, these Chefs are helping to stem the tide of a human made extinction. It is so delightful for me, that eating Lobster Rolls and Spiced Stuffed Long Pie Pumpkin's really can help change the world.
Long Pie Pumpkin
Interesting map and information on Americas Vanishing Food Traditions
And Finally, this is the book that really talks about this issue and what we as consumers can do about it.
Listen to the interview with Evan