East Coast Restaurant Takes Locavore Concept to New Extremes
31 Mar, 2014
by Igor Mange, Organic Connections’ restaurant critic
At his new Concord, Massachusetts–area restaurant, Locavicious, chef-owner Jaroslav Krumpf crafts the freshest foods possible—all of them are raised within one hundred yards of the kitchen. I had been hoping to taste Krumpf’s celebrated extreme-local cuisine since the restaurant opened last month but first had to procure an apartment in the neighborhood, as Krumpf only accepts reservations from diners within a six-block radius of his establishment.
“What’s the point of serving local food to nonlocal people?” Krumpf asks as he takes me on a tour of the restaurant, which features a fishpond at its center where diners can fish for trout and an herb garden grown entirely on waste from the restaurant’s composting toilet.
“Today’s waste produces tomorrow’s salad,” Krumpf says proudly, showing me around the fenced, heavily guarded ecosystem that provides all of the restaurant’s food. Locavicious’s backyard-to-table traceability initiative is the perfect solution for diners who want to know exactly where their food was grown, and when, and by whom. Patrons can watch the vegetables grow via the Garden Cam above the bar area while drinking blackberry wine fermented within six feet of their current location, and even reserve particular beets or carrots for future dinners.
“Do you want to know what freshness tastes like?” Krumpf asks rhetorically, serving me his restaurant’s most expensive—and polarizing—dish, the hundred-dollar Beyond Fresh Omelet, made with eggs laid less than an hour before. How do I know? Because each omelet is accompanied by time-stamped photographs of the eggs lovingly perched upon by their respective chickens, captured by motion-sensitive infrared cameras trained on the hens’ posteriors; and each photograph is marked with the claw print of the chicken that produced the egg. The omelet is flavorful and astonishingly light, though I find myself pushing the herb topping to the edge of the plate.
“If you will excuse me, I must now go massage the goat so that the milk for your flan will taste of love,” the chef announces. The care and attention that Krumpf lavishes on his ingredients, combined with his fanatical dedication to freshness, can cause dinners to drag on for many hours—one of the primary complaints about Locavicious.
Half an hour later I catch up with Chef Krumpf in the kitchen, where the goat bleats contentedly, its udders heavy. As he milks the creature directly into the mixing bowl, where the flan will be flavored with mint instead of vanilla (Tahiti is definitely not local), Krumpf shares his approach to animal husbandry. “We treat the chickens and goats exactly like family,” he says. “Except that eventually we kill them and eat them.”
The flan when it arrives is decadently rich, flecked with fresh mint and the occasional clump of what appears to be goat hair. I finish the flan and glance up at the clock on the wall; it is ten o’clock. Four hours have gone by since I arrived, and I find myself beginning to feel hungry again.
Chef Krumpf personally delivers the check to the table. In fact, throughout the evening, I have seen no other diners or staff—only Chef Krumpf. I reach for my wallet and pull out several crisp bills, but Krumpf waves them away with a look of horror. “These dollars come all the way from Philadelphia!” he says. “I cannot take them here.” He suggests a work-trade to pay for the meal, and I agree with some hesitation.
It is nearly midnight when I finish polishing the chickens’ claws with a cloth made from local flax. As the moon shines high in the clear Concord sky, the chef pokes his head into the chicken coop. “Come,” he says, “let us sing to the arugula.” I dash past him and scale the fence, the goat bleating softly behind me.
Sometimes it’s the issues closest to our hearts that need a dash of comic levity. Organic Connections salutes all the green chefs out there working around the clock to make our world, and our food, better. Happy April Fools’ Day!