Jamie Moore is Eat'n Park's 'Farmer Guy' with a Plan
The company's director of sourcing and sustainability works to obtain high-quality, local ingredients for its numerous concepts.
PHOTOS BY LAURA PETRILLA
Jamie Moore, director of sourcing and sustainability at Eat’n Park Hospitality Group, shot six commercials this year touting the company’s commitment to supporting local farmers. Though he might not spend every sunrise personally picking dewy tomatoes, he is quite serious about his desire to connect those farmers with his Eat’n Park customers.
“I’ve been to every operation that we buy from. I want to know who you are. I want to shake your hand,” he says.
For Eat’n Park, “local” is defined as 150 miles from the point of distribution. Meat can come from up to 400 miles away because there aren’t enough processing facilities nearby to keep up with demand.
Moore rolled out the company’s FarmSource program in 2002.
“From that point, I was the ‘farmer guy.’ I was the one [who] people would go to when they wanted to buy from a local farm,” he says.
He was responsible for buying more than $23 million of locally sourced goods in 2013, which represents 19.1 percent of the company’s annual spending. His goal this year is to break 20 percent. In addition to the 70-plus Eat’n Park restaurants, Moore also sources for the company’s restaurant division, which includes Six Penn Kitchen, The Porch at Schenley and Hello Bistro.
Moore says his primary role is assuring the safety of the food that he purchases from producers. After that, he looks for farmers who can supply flavorful produce with the consistency, quantity and quality he needs for such a massive operation. He has go-to farms, including seven primary growers he uses for Eat’n Park, but he says he’s always interested in meeting new farmers via the chefs with whom he works.
Moore also is the vice chairman of the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture. By working with growers of all kinds, he has noticed that labels sometimes mean more to consumers and farmers than best practices — and that’s something he’d like to change.
“The conventional grower can learn from the organic and the organic from the conventional. We need to break these barriers. We need to figure out how to bring everyone together. It doesn’t work when they fight each other, and they do fight each other now,” he says.
To that end, Moore is using his position as a buyer of such a large amount of produce to help nudge conventional growers into a more sustainable direction by pointing out the critical control procedures when it comes to food safety.
Moore, whose father-in-law is a dairy farmer, says he’s ever curious about the way we source our food and always is looking ahead to what’s next. On his mind right now: “How are we working to develop a regional food system? What does that food system really look like?”
With Jamie Moore buying more than $20 million dollars of local food a year, that system looks increasingly healthy.
This is my favorite recipe to use up those ripe garden tomatoes. My wife, Michelle, doesn’t even like tomatoes, but she has no problem eating this dish.
- 1 (9-inch) frozen pie shell, thawed (I make my own crust; see recipe that follows)
- 3 large tomatoes, about 1½ pounds, cut into ½-inch-thick slices
- Kosher salt, for sprinkling
- ¼ cup Dijon mustard
- 1 cup coarsely grated Gruyere
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley leaves
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil leaves
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Line the shell with foil and fill with pie weights, dried beans or rice. Bake in the lower third of the oven for 20 minutes. Carefully remove the weights and foil. Return to the oven and bake for 10 minutes more or until light-golden. Cool in the pan on a wire rack.
- Turn up the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Sprinkle the tomatoes with salt and drain in a colander for 10 to 15 minutes. Spread mustard over the bottom of the shell and sprinkle the cheese over it. Arrange tomatoes (I dab the tomatoes with a paper towel) over the cheese in one overlapping layer. Bake until pastry is golden brown and tomatoes are very soft, 35 to 40 minutes.
- In a small bowl, stir together the parsley, basil, garlic, olive oil and pepper. Sprinkle the pie with this mixture while hot and spread out gently with the back of a spoon. Serve the pie hot or at room temperature.
(I use 10-inch tart pans instead of pie pans)
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and chilled
- 4 to 6 tablespoons ice cold water
- Combine flour and salt in a food processor and pulse once or twice to blend.
- Add the butter and process until blended; slowly add water until dough is formed.
- Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least one hour.