Episode 246: Chef Todd Fisher

1/11/2023

By Lori Taylor

 

“How many people in the industry have you actually entertained and educated throughout the years? I mean, tens of thousands of people that are involved with moving fruits and vegetables around the globe– you have been a huge impact for us all.” Lori Taylor (38:24-38:39)

The Produce Moms Podcast is kicking off 2023 with one of the biggest personalities in food and beverage! With 30 years in the business, Chef Todd Fisher has been at the helm of some great restaurants throughout his journey.

While looking to buy a steakhouse of his own, Chef Todd scouted a local butcher shop to supply it; when that restaurant deal didn’t work out, he bought the butcher shop instead.  Now a full time, artisan butcher, Chef Todd provides sustainably raised proteins of exceptional quality– offered with a side of chef’s expertise, and the service of an old school, family-owned butcher shop– at The Meatery in Seaside California. After establishing The Meatery, he opened Bear + Flag Roadside, a throwback to California roadside eateries located in Carmel-By-The-Sea. 

All this since his departure from the Michelin Plate award winning Seventh & Dolores– in 2021!

In addition to being an incredible chef and butcher, Todd is one of the most notable foodservice ambassadors within the fresh produce industry. He has served as culinary brand ambassador for Duda Farm Fresh Foods for the last nine years; an array of recipes on the Duda website featuring Dandy Brands produce are Chef Todd creations.

It was in this capacity that he and The Produce Moms CEO and Founder Lori Taylor first met. Under the sponsorship of Duda Farm Fresh Foods, Lori and Todd led hands-on culinary training for school foodservice professionals in the state of Indiana with the aim of making fresh produce more accessible and exciting for students. It was an enlightening opportunity for the type of feedback that drives innovation: learning firsthand, for instance, the frustration involved when typical serving sizes are measured by net weight (ounces), while federal USDA school meal program measurements are based on the half cup.

The USDA Team Nutrition program had a particular focus on the under-consumed vegetable subcategories– dark green, red/orange and legume– a perfect fit for Duda’s Dandy Brands. Lori and Chef Todd remember his lemon broccoli and plant-based Sloppy Joe using lentils as well-received recipes that emerge from the Team Nutrition training, but Todd took time to detail another memorable aspect:

“It was just an incredible experience that changed my life, gave me an entirely different outlook on that world and that experience. I just was thrilled to be a part of it, and the food was delicious… with having five kids on my own and really still a 12-year-old at heart myself, it was really nice to see them come through the line and kind of be a little enthusiastic about lunch. Because it was different, it was fresher.” Todd Fisher (14:29-16:23)

No stranger to culinary innovation– his celery Caesar salad at one of his first restaurants was revolutionary for the time– Chef Todd continues to be passionate about using foods in new and different ways. He feels that “white tablecloth chefs,” as orchestrators of higher end dining experiences, really set the stage for food trends. These initial dishes may be more esoteric or over the top, but the adventurous use of ingredients trickles down and sparks inspiration for more approachable recipes to try at home.

Along those lines, The Meatery features a Kansas City cut as their signature steak– generally not something that springs to mind when ordering at a steakhouse. Dry aged and cooked on the bone, it serves up a memorable umami experience with a flavor profile of hazelnuts and mild blue cheese. Another unique menu offering- beef from Bakersfield California, carrot-finished courtesy of local Grimmway Farms carrots.  For home chefs aspiring to elevate their game in 2023, Chef Todd suggests seeking out a good butcher and marketplace to source the highest quality meat and produce that your budget allows. Cutting back on meat and incorporating more fruits and vegetables into your diet is much easier, and more pleasurable, when you begin with top notch ingredients! These items also tend to be healthier and more flavorful, so there’s no need to smother them with less healthy, calorie-laden cheeses and condiments.

Chef Todd paints a vivid picture around creating a rollercoaster of flavor at mealtime, activating all the taste buds and exciting endorphins. He points to a Greek salad as one of the best expressions of all the flavor profiles: tart and luscious feta cheese, hydrating and refreshing cucumbers, bitter and astringent Kalamata olives, the acidity of tomatoes or red wine vinegar, the herbaceousness of oregano and olive oil, and the nuttiness quinoa or brown rice, all on one perfectly composed plate. For a magnificent umami flavor, he’s particularly excited about black, fermented garlic.

For even more culinary inspiration, Chef Todd offers an entertaining newsletter at https://themeatery.us/ (that hopefully will soon include ways to prepare and use that black garlic). His parting advice: “Cook like you mean it!”  

How to get involved

  • Join The Produce Moms Group on Facebook and continue the discussion every week! 
  • Reach out to us – we’d love to hear more about where you are in life and business! Find out more here

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Lori Taylor

Author: Lori Taylor

Lori Taylor is the Founder & CEO of The Produce Moms. For ten years she sold fresh produce to over 300 grocery stores throughout the United States, and today she is fully focused on working with the produce supply chain, media, and government to increase fresh produce access & consumption in the US and around the globe. Connect with Lori on LinkedIn.

View all posts by Lori Taylor

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