GEORGIA GROWN KEY INGREDIENT IN RESTAURANT MENUS, SUPERMARKET SHELVES
Georgia Grown produce helps keep retail supermarket shelves full of fresh produce, but the state’s produce is also an important ingredient in restaurant menus, and Georgia’s restaurants possess big appetites for Georgia Grown produce.
“In my opinion, Savannah and Atlanta are the two most important dining cities in the state,” says Chris Hathcock, executive chef of Husk, a Savannah restaurant.
Husk serves diners southern cuisine in the heart of Savannah’s Landmark Historic District, and Hathcock reinterprets the bounty of unique coastal Georgia and South Carolina ingredients. Husk’s menu includes items sourced from Georgia and promotes a cuisine featuring heirloom products, which changes the way diners think about cooking and eating in the South. The restaurant is part of the Neighborhood Dining Group, which also operates restaurants in Atlanta, Nashville, TN, and Charleston.
“While the ingredients are from the South, we draw inspiration for dishes from different cuisines while still paying homage to our Lowcountry origins,” says Hathcock, a Georgia native.
Fresh produce, particularly produce from Southeast Georgia and South Carolina, plays a critical role in Husk’s menu. “Georgia’s produce is extremely important to our restaurant as an individual, but it should also be of utmost importance to other restaurants within the state,” says Hathcock. “Whether the goal is to reduce carbon footprint or to support local agriculture, implementing Georgia’s bounty of produce should be on the forefront of restaurants’ minds.”
Almost all produce Husks serves is sourced from within two hours of the restaurant’s doorstep, with most of it originating in the Savannah/Richmond Hill, GA, area. Husk changes its menu often, adapting to what area growers provide fresh daily.
The restaurant works with dozens of local growers in the Lowcountry (the coastal areas of Georgia and South Carolina), sourcing items including culinary herbs, assorted greens, baby vegetables and flowers. Local growers supplying Husk include smaller operations such as Vince Baker Culinary Herbs and Gannon Organics as well as larger produce suppliers like Grow Foods Carolina, which supplies numerous specialty items from throughout farms in Georgia and the Carolinas. In the summer, Husk sources peaches and pecans from Pearson Farms in Fort Valley, GA, a part of the Genuine Georgia Group.
“Local produce is a cornerstone to our menu development,” says Hathcock. “We write each of our seasonal menus based around what produce is available closest to our doorstep and what is most delicious.”
Hathcock likens full produce utilization to utilizing other foods. “Just like respecting animals by utilizing the entirety of the product, we use almost every bit of each fresh vegetable in our dishes,’ he says. “Whether we are researching newer, modern techniques or practicing age-old techniques such as fermenting and preserving, the whole vegetable is taken into consideration in our menu development.”