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Ingredient Source Branding.... What Is Your ACTUAL Experiences?


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General Discussion

Ingredient Source Branding.... What Is Your ACTUAL Experiences?

Eat_Nopal | | May 1, 2007 11:56 AM

A lot of places seem to be advertising where they source their ingredients... i.e., we proudly serve Niman Ranch meats, South Central L.A. grown Corn etc., and many people seem to really appreciate it, and even use it as a barometer to compare restaurants.

But my question to you.... has it really made a positive impact in your dining experiences. In other words do you find the actual food to be better at a place that brands their ingredient sources versus those that don't?

In my experience:

> Most places that have made a big fuss about where they source things, haven't been particularly good. Its almost like they hide behind the highly reputable supplier to mask their sub-par execution while typically charging higher prices.

> The vast majority of the best dishes I've ever eaten out, have not gone out of their way to highlight their source.

Now, I do appreciate a good marketing strategy, differentiation and restaurants that have a story, a gist... and there are times when a special ingredient sure makes a huge difference. But in my experience the current restaurant trend has gone way overboard with what I think is fake artisanry. I have seen a lot of MBAs, Lawyers, Marketing Execs etc., make alot of money in their professions than go out & use their business savvy to successfully create "Artisan" food businesses that provide more hype than substance. And I have also seen highly professionalized restaurant venture capitalists that own dozens of "independent", unique restaurants that use successfully branded, relatively high volume, "Artisan" products to standardize their operations across many concepts i.e., delivering the same lack of soul as McDonald's on a smaller scale, but with high-end images.

I have two recent experiences to contrast:

> At Sassafras in Santa Rosa I had a braised lamb shank PROUDLY sourced from the local, fancy famous lamb processor that was probably on the same plane as eating cow pie (not that I've ever had the honor).

> At Nick San in Cabo San Lucas I had Nigiri from local, unbranded, unfluffed, never frozen fishes that was significantly better than anything I've had since my last meal at Matsuhisa in L.A. about 5 years ago.

In the first case the corporate run, "Locatarian" restaurant hid behind an "Artisinal" brand... while in the 2nd case... the highly successful Exec Chef (who now runs 3 sushi places in Cabo) probably used his talent to find a particular relatively low paid fisherman or fish monger that could deliver the goods etc.,

What do other people think of the recent Artisinal trends... am I the only one that has been underwhelmed?