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I don't want to hijack your thread but continuing on with the the quality of the ingredients available, I'm finding that locally the quality of the stuff I'm able to get at our local farmers' market has been better than pre-pandemic. Are the items at the farmers market better because they aren't enough restaurants to sell the best things to them? 

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OK, Greenmarket.  I get up very early (for me) on Saturdays to get to my local once-a-week Greenmarket as soon as it opens.  And back in the days when lots of restaurants were open, I saw lots of local chefs there, too.

But I STILL got the feeling that the real action was elsewhere, somewhere I didn't have access to.  And, sure enough, in the First Summer of the Pandemic, when my local restaurant Olmsted set up a Trading Post to sell directly the produce of the suppliers it was no longer purchasing from for its own use, I saw it:  the produce they were selling was much better than what I'd gotten at the Greenmarket.

It seems to me that vendors have always reserved their best produce for restaurants.  Except now, they can't (cuz restaurants aren't buying enough).  So it stands to reason (if these vendors participate in Greenmarkets) that more of their really good stuff is going to become available there for us home-cook plebs.

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Actually, as a Pathetic Single Person, cooking for one, what bothers me now is that a lot of Greenmarket vendors seem to now be reserving their best stuff for their CSAs, which just don't work for Pathetic Single People cooking for one.

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Lemme ask this hypothetical (said my Uncle Nancy):  if you're a greenmarket farmer/vendor, and one of your clients is, let's just say for this example Gramercy Tavern, and GT is gonna be coming over to Union Square with their cart 3 or 4 times a week to buy a shitload of stuff from you, who are you gonna save your best stuff for? It's not like you're gonna let whomever GT sends over to buy stuff fight with you or me over the finest tomatoes...no...you're gonna set them aside for GT. It only makes sense.

I think it's gonna be the same with other purveyors too...the people we're buying shit from and having delivered. These purveyors who were only selling to restaurants (some were already also selling  retail); their restaurant business could be off 75 - 100%, so we're seeing the finest of the fine. If restaurants ever come back, some of that finest of the fine is gonna go back to the restaurants is my guess. I think many of these places will continue with their retail op (as you suggested, they've now got the infrastructure somewhat set up, and the profit margin is probably greater), so I expect the quality may drop a bit (i.e. we may not get the perfect steak; Collichio might). But whatever we still procure from these types of places will be light years beyond what a grocery-shopping consumer will ever encounter.

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Also, when and if we ever get to go back to a restaurant, we're gonna say (to ourselves) holy shit! They're charging $150 for this fucking rib-eye!!! I could buy it and cook it at home for 1//3 of that price!!

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You're probably just seeing more produce from hot houses or from "family" owned farms down south because there's less available from storage than in a normal year. (Late start to the season + labor shortage + obviously people planted less)

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2 hours ago, joethefoodie said:

Lemme ask this hypothetical (said my Uncle Nancy):  if you're a greenmarket farmer/vendor, and one of your clients is, let's just say for this example Gramercy Tavern, and GT is gonna be coming over to Union Square with their cart 3 or 4 times a week to buy a shitload of stuff from you, who are you gonna save your best stuff for? It's not like you're gonna let whomever GT sends over to buy stuff fight with you or me over the finest tomatoes...no...you're gonna set them aside for GT. It only makes sense.

I think it's gonna be the same with other purveyors too...the people we're buying shit from and having delivered. These purveyors who were only selling to restaurants (some were already also selling  retail); their restaurant business could be off 75 - 100%, so we're seeing the finest of the fine. If restaurants ever come back, some of that finest of the fine is gonna go back to the restaurants is my guess. I think many of these places will continue with their retail op (as you suggested, they've now got the infrastructure somewhat set up, and the profit margin is probably greater), so I expect the quality may drop a bit (i.e. we may not get the perfect steak; Collichio might). But whatever we still procure from these types of places will be light years beyond what a grocery-shopping consumer will ever encounter.

So this will indeed be interesting with respect to Baldor.  As I've said before, I've been really pleased with the quality of produce we've gotten from them over the past 10 months or so. Even name brand items (Driscoll's, eg) look and taste far superior than any Driscoll's product at our local grocery stores. So will they continue to send those same berries to me when their restaurant clients come back? 

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"Way back when", Waters developed a stable of foragers and farmers who collected and grew for her, in fact an impetus for California's thriving farmer's markets today.    To me, it's a no-brainer that restaurants, as regular and reliable consumers, get the pick of the harvest or butchery.    This is simply the market, just as in the antique trade, pickers find gems and save them for regular professional and collector buyers.    I never have thought that I have access to the best of the best as a "civilian".     And of course we have all had access to top quality product since pandemic closed restaurants.    It has to go somewhere and we get our chance.   A parallel is the 2008 recession/bust that sent foie gras down-market when top restaurants lost their clientele base.

 

 

4 minutes ago, mitchells said:

So this will indeed be interesting with respect to Baldor.  As I've said before, I've been really pleased with the quality of produce we've gotten from them over the past 10 months or so. Even name brand items (Driscoll's, eg) look and taste far superior than any Driscoll's product at our local grocery stores. So will they continue to send those same berries to me when their restaurant clients come back? 

I would certainly doubt it.   

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1 hour ago, small h said:

This is exactly the argument I was making here:

 

My point then (as now) was not that product quality didn't matter but that it took a better cook to create a great plate of out lesser quality product.   With fine product, all you have to do is not screw it up.

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And my point then (as now), is that restaurants get better quality products than I do, so even if I and a chef had the exact same skills, the chef would make a better plate of food 'cause s/he would have better raw materials.

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