If you’re a private chef or passionate home cook, you need to know about To-Table. This company is the solution for those who struggle with the time-consuming and difficult task of sourcing the best, and sometimes obscure, ingredients. In the interview below, Charles Duke, founder of To-Table, gives us an inside look at this super cool company.
When was To-Table founded? What gave you the idea to do something like this?
I started To-Table in January of 2015 as a Public Benefit Corporation. I have been a passionate home cook who is just good enough to crave interesting and completely different food ingredients than those from the current bland industrial food system output. Understanding more about and using more diverse and unique products with their outstanding improvements in taste furthers the movement away from the mass production food model towards a more healthy and environmentally sound model. To-Table wants to educate on these issues and provide a vibrant market to push more of these foods into the mainstream.
Who are some of the chefs who make product recommendations for To-Table?
Alex Seidel of Mercantile and Fruition; Hugo Matheson of The Kitchen; Daniel Asher of Linger; and Frank Bonanno of Bonanno Concepts Restaurants have all helped select the interesting items on To-Table and the best possible sources. Linda Hampsten, Lee Clayton Roper, Paul Reilly of Beast and Bottle and Kyle Mendenhall, formerly of the Kitchen, have also provided great input.
What criteria do they use to select your participating producers?
Our chefs, and all professionals involved in the new movement towards good food, use and recommend sources known for their important artisanal approach in production, sustainable techniques if feasible, and a mission to incorporate diversity in to the food system. High quality resulting in unmatched taste is an underlying criteria.
What does it mean to say that your products are “responsibly sourced”?
Fortunately there is an unequivocal link between responsibly sourced foods and great taste. To be responsibly sourced, foods should be part of a system of produce, crops, fish, fowl, and meats production that promotes diverse species, the sustainability of the environment in which they are sourced, sound animal husbandry and species conservation, the health of the consumer, and depend on a higher mission and an artisanal approach.
Give us some examples of the types of ingredients that can be found through To-Table.
To-Table offers the variety of fresh foods typically found on the perimeter of the grocery store – with the exception that the high quality and unique items cannot be easily found in any local stores. Many of the items are the kinds of unique items not carried by stores from game birds and meats, baby vegetables, wild foraged products and unique charcuterie, cheeses, goose, heritage turkeys, capons, caviars, fruits and seafood (like geoduck, octopus and sepia). Other items include more traditional foods with artisanal and quality differences or unusual cuts such as dry aged beef, grass fed beef and buffalo, porchetta roasts, Berkshire pork, Jowl bacon, iberico ham, or spring lamb.
So far, what has been the most popular item offered through To-Table?
The most popular items have been those main items for Thanksgiving and Holiday feasts with friends and family. Heritage turkeys, a species nearly extinct just a few years ago, and 20 day aged prime rib were popular favorites for those festivities.
We love your blog. What inspires the recipes that you share there?
One of the most difficult challenges for any aspiring home cook is the confidence to move from the usual ingredient suspects we have all cooked for years to more exciting and unusual foods. But the delight both of the cook and his or her guests is beyond compare. And, it turns out that, the Incredible tastes encourage a healthier food system for all of us. Helping our customers finds some of the possible menus that they fell comfortable with is a mission of To-Table.
What is the process for joining To-Table?
If you simply sign up for our newsletter, a 30 second or less process of providing your email, we will send a newsletter, usually once a week, that points you to our blogs and ideas for the seasonal foods currently available. If you like (or follow) our Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest pages, you can see, at your leisure, additional ideas and recipes.
How or where can people learn more?
Find us easily at our website.