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Stark Restaurants Partners with New Urban Farm

Sonoma County is known for their "Farm-to-Table" Restaurants with Local Produce

With many Sonoma County restaurateurs offering farm-to-table cuisine, it is quite common that local eateries actually operate their own farms, to ensure the best and freshest produce. Many other Sonoma County restaurants decide to still stay local and partner with farms for fresh produce, which is what Stark Restaurants has just decided to do.

A few farm-to-table favorites that come to mind are Peter Lowell’s, the new Handline, the new Single Thread, Zazu Kitchen + Farm in Sebastopol, Farmhouse Restaurant in Forestville, SHED in Healdsburg, and Barndiva in Healdsburg, to name just a few.

Now, we can add restaurateurs Mark and Terri Stark, with their six Sonoma County restaurants and their catering business. The Starks have just formed a partnership with Cloche Farm of Windsor to feed Willi’s Wine Bar, Monti’s, Stark’s Steak & Seafood, Bird & The Bottle in Santa Rosa, Willi’s Seafood & Raw Bar and Bravas Bar de Tapas in Healdsburg.

This is the first time Cloche has planted specialty crops specifically for restaurants, and their choice makes good sense: The farm comes from two Stark Reality Restaurants employees, JC Hansen and Ryan Muir. It operates as a custom farm where produce is grown to the specifications of the restaurant group.

While restaurants typically are somewhat constrained based on what produce is available from vendors, this new model allows chefs to enjoy grown-to-order gardens. Besides greater degree of control over the quality, freshness, and costs of many of the ingredients used on menus, the idea lets chefs request boutique specialties such as designer lettuces and herbs.

“JC and Ryan saw an opportunity to expand their own farming side business by custom growing for our restaurants.  It’s a win-win for both of us,” said Mark Stark. “We work together to select the varieties of produce that will best suit our needs and deliver the flavor profiles we’re looking for in our dishes.”

The farm itself is unique, as an urban operation on a busy corner in Windsor. The first crops include restaurant staples like cherry and heirloom tomatoes, padron peppers, shishito peppers, cantaloupe, watermelon, corn, cucumbers, pole beans, Romano beans and giant pumpkins. Next up will be lettuces and kale, followed by berries and fruit trees.

Details: Stark Reality Restaurants

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