Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Stir Food Group Goes Local

Dan Mesches, CEO of Stir Food Group, has been committed to sourcing only the highest quality ingredients at his restaurants since founding his company in 1999. Over the past few months, Mesches along with Ralph Rosenberg, Vice President of Operations for Stir, Bryan Moscatello, Executive Chef/Partner of Stir, and Ryland Johnson, Executive General Manager of Stir, have taken this direction one step further by working with the Virginia Department of Agriculture to introduce local products from Shenandoah Valley and Southwest Virginia farms into Zola. Furthermore, by the end of 2009, Stir Food Group is pledging to source 50% of all products served from local farms, which will be raised specifically for Stir Food Group including beef, lamb, pork, veal and eggs. Plans are also in the works to compost over 400 tons annually. The commitment is a large one as Zola on average serves over 150,000 patrons per year, within its dining room, popular bar and expansive private event venues.

Chef Moscatello also has the perfect new location to test the new Virginia products and ingredients: Stir Food Group’s new exhibition test kitchen, Zola Wine & Kitchen, which opened December 1, 2008 at 505 9th Street, NW. The recipes developed here will be featured on the menu at Zola and also at the new 10,000-square-foot Italian concept, Potenza, which Mesches opened in downtown DC at 1430 H Street, NW (corner of 15th and H) in March 2009.

Animals currently raised each year for Stir Food Group and Zola specifically include: over 300 lamb from Green Hill Farms; 200 veal from Shenandoah Valley Family Farms and Valentine Miller Farms; 75 cows from Valentine Miller Farms; 300 hogs from Valentine Miller and Papa Weaver Farms, as well as countless eggs from Piney River Organics. Each is a free-range, grass fed, drug free, an all-natural product. Stir Food Group is also working alongside the Virginia Department of Agriculture to locate additional offerings that meet the company’s high criteria to include rabbit, chicken, game birds, venison, and farmed-raised shrimp, trout and salmon.

For processing of the meats, Stir Food Group has been working with T&E Meats of Harrisonburg, Virginia. This affords Stir the opportunity to specify both the desired cut and aging of the meats for the menu at Zola. This new program is at its very beginning stages but Mesches and Moscatello anticipate rapid growth due to their purchasing power commitments with the farmers, as well as the increased sourcing demands for more farm-raised items. Stir Food Group has already expanded its commitment to include Cannon Hill Farms for two beef a month and Misty Meadows for eight lambs a month (November through March only) as well as Grayson Natural Foods for two beef a month. In addition, Stir Food Group is increasing production with Papa Weavers Pork for one additional hog a week; Green Hill Farms for an additional eight lambs a month, as well as Shenandoah Valley Farms for two veals a month. Stir is also working on procuring products from Buffalo Ridge Farm; Rich Valley Grazers; Garden Mountain Farm; Virginia Cobia Farms and Mountain Memories Farm.

Local vegetable and fruit production is also in the works. Stir Food Group is currently in talks with Shenandoah Family Farms to supply Roma and heirloom tomatoes for Potenza, the new Italian concept which opened within the Woodward Building at 15th and H Streets in March 2009.

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