Up-close-and-personal sourcing

Many chefs take the time to get to know the farmers and other producers in their local area, but Mark Weber, executive chef and managing partner at Mason Street Grill in the Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, is going out of his way to understand and appreciate his seafood suppliers.

I first mentioned Weber in a post about sustainable seafood a few months ago. Earlier this year, he went on a stone crab fishing expedition, and he says it helped Mason Street Grill sell twice the amount of stone crabs in just one month than it did during last year’s entire season.

More recently, Weber traveled to Maine to learn more about lobster fishing and use that expertise to inform his purchasing decisions as well as educate his guests. 

“Understanding the source is the most important thing,” Weber says. “The more you understand how it’s done and what you’re looking for and what the professionals know about it, you can tighten up your specs, and you can ensure you’re asking for something that truly is the highest-quality product.”

Guests are getting smarter and more demanding about their food all the time, which is why I imagine firsthand knowledge like Weber’s will become not only nice to have, but necessary for success. What do you think? I’d love to hear more stories about chefs going out and getting their hands dirty in the pursuit of top-quality product.