At Orchard Creek, clean ingredient culture starts with basics like butter
By Crystal Abbe Graham
If you aren’t a chef, you probably don’t put a lot of thought into the butter that you use on your bread or even what is served at a restaurant.
But as more and more consumers start to seek out food sources that follow ethical sustainable farming practices, they are being lead away from big-box groceries stores and landing instead at farmers’ markets, CSA pickup locations or even local bakeries working in tandem with the providers to deliver healthier food options to customers.
The Waynesboro-based Harvest Restaurant Group, which operates Orchard Creek and several ghost kitchens with food available exclusively on DoorDash, has turned to MainStreet Farmstead in Stuarts Draft to provide the group with their cornerstone ingredients: clean, nutrient-dense foods.
Culinary director Fred German said he relies on MainStreet Farmstead owner Gary Conner and his son to fuel the restaurants with butter, ghee (clarified butter), creams and the cheeses they use on their signature Cheese and Charcuterie Board.
“It’s a family operation. They are all-natural milk products,” said German. “There are no preservatives, no hormones and no artificial food coloring … it really checks all the boxes for us.”
German said the staff has developed a signature cheese sauce with the farmstead’s offerings. You’ll find it on the chili cheese hot dog, chili cheese fries, grits and their shells and cheese.
“What sets us apart from other restaurants is how we allow clean ingredients to express themselves … without covering them with too many heavy sauces,” German said.
The restaurant group uses unsalted sweet cream and ghee to take their dishes to new levels … from using high heat to pan sear steaks that allow for a nice hard char without burning impurities into the meat to providing the ultimate butter for their peel-and-eat shrimp.
“It’s the butter that you would normally have if you were to get a lobster tail,” said German. “It’s the drawn butter. But you take it a step further where it’s more than drawn, it’s completely clarified.”
They’ll also use MainStreet Farmstead’s whole butter to make brown butter for the restaurant’s brown butter breadcrumbs. And use sweet cream butter for dessert production and other compound butters like a black garlic or lemon parsley butters.
“For instance, I have a whipped smoked salt butter. I can take unsalted butter and whip it into what would be a traditional tableside butter. But then I have incorporated smoked salts,” said German.
“So we have more diversity, because I can use it all the way from sweet to savory, and then in that, create many different profiles,” said German.
Outside of the restaurant setting, clean ingredients are something a new brand of consumer is beginning to demand but finding it locally can be a challenge.
“When I went to look for products when I started being conscious of what I was consuming, it was hard if you didn’t know the right people or the right places to go to find these type of products,” said Teresa Gauldin, owner of Harvest Restaurant Group. “It’s important people learn why we should eat whole nutrient dense food and how much better for our health it is.”
You don’t have to be a restaurant owner to get the products that the Harvest Restaurant Group is using in their kitchen. MainStreet Farmstead offers their products for sale to the public, and German said, they offer their products through CSAs at places like Newtown Baking in Staunton and through their farm store and Facebook page.
German said it’s about changing the way we all shop – shifting the consumers focus from the macro supply chain to a micro supply chain.
“We all go to Walmart, Martins or Food Lion. Well, why not MainStreet Farmstead? Why not Newtown Bakery? Why not Farmers’ Markets? Why not direct farms? Yeah, why not Facebook?”
“You may not be interested in doing all these different things with butter,” German said. “At home, you may just want to have a cultured butter that you can go scoop and put on, you know, a loaf that you picked up at Newtown Baking, and that, with a bottle of wine would be great on the porch, right?”
AFP will continue to highlight some of the local providers to Harvest Restaurant Group: MainStreet Farmstead, Shenandoah Valley Organics/Farmer Focus, Autumn Olive Farms, and Seven Hills Farm. Next up, we’ll highlight their seafood provider.