New Cafe Celebrates Local Communities and the Ingredients They Offer

GAITHERSBURG, Md.June 27, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — Artisan Restaurant Collection, Quality of Daily Life Solutions provider, is bringing together communities and the people who work in them with its new farm-to-table, chef-driven dining concept, Local Artisan. Recently launched at the renowned National Geographic headquarters building located in downtown Washington, D.C., Local Artisan transforms corporate cafes by providing a delicious and locally-grown menu full of food that travels a simple and responsible path from the farm to the customer. Carefully orchestrating the symphony of flavors is the Chief Artisan, a specially selected chef whose primary focus is ensuring that hand-picked, fresh ingredients are at the heart of each menu.

The centerpiece of Local Artisan is the community table. Here, the Chief Artisan highlights local and seasonal ingredients that are used in daily menu planning. Customers can come together at the community table where they are greeted by the Chief Artisan, enjoy the day’s offering, learn more about the ingredients featured, or participate in healthy-cooking demonstrations.

Further expanding on their commitment to the communities in which it operates, Local Artisan creates a farm-to-table experience for guests as they meet with local growers who come directly to the cafe. Gregg Keckler, owner/farmer of Orchard County Produce, Cumberland County, Pa., hosted a farm stand at National Geographic and diners were so enthusiastic about the heirloom apples and winter crop root vegetables that this spring he started bringing fresh produce weekly. Keckler collaborates with National Geographic’s Chief Artisan Matt Crudder on ways to incorporate peak-season produce into the menu. Using a recent crop of rhubarb and lemon balm, Crudder created a wildly popular lemon balm scented pound cake with a blackberry-rhubarb compote. He dried the excess lemon balm to use as a marinade for local, line-caught, grilled Wreckfish, also known as Stone Bass.

“The Chief Artisan at each location is the bridge between the food and the local community — it’s all about the stories that the food provides at the table,” said Local Artisan Culinary Director Robert Maluso. “Providing people a way to get engaged in their dining experience is creating excitement at our locations, and customers enjoy taking the time to stop and talk with our chefs about what they are eating and how it’s prepared.”

They plans to open 10 Local Artisan locations in the coming year. Local Artisan is aligned with the commitments in the Better Tomorrow Plan, the company’s sustainability journey which includes sourcing local, seasonal, sustainable ingredients; providing varied and balanced food options; and supporting the local communities that we serve. Locations can make progress on these commitments using technology-driven solutions such as the LeanPath tool to reduce food waste and the SMART tool prioritize initiatives and track continuous improve in four key best practice areas — energy planning and  efficiency, water and waste reduction, healthy/sustainable food, and the environment.