Butcher Block Grill's Josh Hedquist, "Our Food System Represents What's Wrong With America"
In fact, this year Bon Appetit placed two Minneapolis eateries on its list of the "50 Best New Restaurant Nominees for 2013" -- the entire state of Florida only had one on the list.
As executive chef at Boca's new Butcher Block Grill, Hedquist has the freedom to use sustainably sourced products to in an attempt to bring the slow food philosophy that is found all over the place in his home state. He hopes "Be a small part of the change that needs to take place."
The steakhouse uses humane farms like Creekstone Beef and FreeBird out of Pennsylvania, as well as local farms -- when possible -- such as Farmer Jay's Organics, Swank Specialty Produce, Heritage Hen Farms, Green Cay, Farmhouse Tomatoes, Piero Farms, and Palmetto Creek.
While the owners wanted to go for a bit of a farm-to-table steakhouse concept from the beginning, Hedquist took the idea and rolled with it.
"I always wanted to use these sorts of products in other restaurants, but haven't really had the opportunity in the past," he said. "I try to educate our customers as much as possible. I like to let them know it's not just that I bring in Creekstone beef, because the product is delicious, but that we need to support those sorts of people."
Aside from all of his research into food production, Hedquist credits his love of Italian cuisine for his fascination on sustainable, quality products. Aside from working for Dennis Max and Big Time Restaurant Group, he spent time working for Todd English at da Campo Osteria in Fort Lauderdale.
"Italians and Italian cuisine is all about making things the best way you possibly can," said Hedquist. "Here, in many cases, it seems like it's about squeezing more out of less to make as much money as possible. In Italy, it's a philosophy of caring about the product not commercialism; I really appreciate that."
Aside from sourcing as locally and sustainably as he can, Hedquist emphasizes making everything from scratch, including the mozzarella and cured pork products, such as the guanciale (basically, an unsmoked bacon made from pig cheeks) and pancetta.
For now, Hedquist is doing what he can to educate and show off his slow food ethos in Boca Raton.
Butcher Block Grill is located at 7000 W. Camino Real in Boca Raton. Call 561-409-3035, or visit butcherblockgrill.com.
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