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Chef In Focus
Isaiah Billington is the award winning pastry chef
from Baltimore’s Woodberry Kitchen where farm-
to-table cuisine isn’t just a fad but a way of life.
42 Pastry & Baking North America
By David Martell
Farm Fresh
ood fads are as common as picking the slow line at the
toll plaza or the certainty your annoying neighbor will
chat you up every time you cut the lawn. But the farm-
to-table moment appears here to stay.
Having its roots in Europe where the chefs became
concerned their traditional dishes would be overshadowed by
fast-food restaurants, the farm-to-table moment has brought
chefs and their guests back to the basic roots of dining.
Championed in North America by Alice Waters at
her Berkeley institution Chez Panisse, the farm-to-table
movement is all about delivering locally-sourced meals
and connecting people to what they eat and to the people
who grow what they eat, in addition to supporting local
communities, and, very often, health.
Local food is fresh, making it nutrient-rich, and it is chosen
on the basis of being free of harmful chemicals. And, this
food movement is about more than just fruits and vegetables.
Locally, naturally raised cattle, lamb, pig and chicken, artisan
cheese, bread, and other foods such as mushrooms and eggs,
all join together to make a farm-to-table meal.
Before mega farms, international distribution chains,
chemical fertilizer, antibiotics, blast freezers and genetically
modified organisms, people bought their meat and produce
from a farmer at a local market. Life was simpler. Was it
better? Personally, I don’t know how they lived without 780
cable channels but today, the farm-to-table phenomenon
allows us to have our cake and eat (the best possible food) too.
On the subject of cake, and the sweeter side of the menu,
pastry chefs are becoming an increasingly important cog in
the wheel of the farm-to-table experience and are feeling
inspired to deliver the “wow” on the meal’s finale while staying
within the confines of local, sustainable, and seasonal.
Isaiah Billington