Best of Mid-Ohio Award

Chef Joey at Farm to Plate 2013

The Hazel Grove Farm Bureau Community Council is pleased to announce our third guest chef demonstration in the series of six. The Richland County Farm to Plate Project on August 24 at 10 a.m. will be conducted by Joe Motter of the Malabar Farm Restaurant. Joe says, “he just calls himself a cook”. The Malabar Farm Restaurant is located at 3645 Pleasant Valley Road, Perrysville (Phone 419-938-5205). Their services are a restaurant, box lunches for meetings and such, and on and off grounds catering. When Joe was asked what type of restaurant Malabar is, he responded that it is a “meat and potatoes” restaurant.

Starter kits, which will be available after the session, will contain apples from Springhill Fruit Farm. Owned and Operated by Jeff and Laura Burrer and Family at 5646 Ganges Five Points Road (in Ganges) Shiloh, Ohio. They sell homegrown apples, peaches, pears, plums, nectarines and fresh, sweet cider as well as local pumpkins, squash and seasonal items. Springhill Fruit Farm began in the spring of 1968 when Ken Sr. and Mary Jane bought the acreage and started replacing aging full-size trees with semi-dwarf trees. Jeff and Laura began ownership in 1998. There are now over 3500 trees and 28 varieties of apples and a new store and shop for sales. There are now 4 generations involved in the orchard. Laura says, “Continuing the farm was very important for us to keep the orchard family owned and operated. It is an excellent place to raise a family; teaching them the importance of working hard for a great product. We also get to spend a lot of time together and have enjoyed mentoring other young workers along the way. Our love for farming is watching the trees grow then produce a quality end product that families can enjoy. By buying fruit locally, you will have a fresh, tree ripened, better quality fruit.”

“Chef Joey” started cooking when he was about 16 years old at the Pump House Restaurant in Ashland. He applied to be a dishwasher but later that day, the cook quit, so he became a cook. Joe earned his way through Ashland University and graduated with a degree in English. During these early stages of his life, he met Chef Dan Bailey. Joe decided to work and study with Dan Bailey at the Malabar Farm Restaurant in 2006.

Dan had purchased the business and was reworking the design and menu of the restaurant. The actual building is a 200 year old farmhouse which has its own story.The restaurant building like the rest of Malabar Farms is part of the Ohio State Park Systems. When Dan decided to move back to his home in California a little over 3 years ago, Joe and a co-worker at the restaurant, Kim Williams, bought the business. Joe says that it is easy to daydream while looking out across the Pleasant Valley and Malabar Farm.

When asked what his philosophy for cooking, he reported “SIMPLE and FRESH. The raw food is what provides the basic flavor. It is brought out in the cooking and needs to be featured not hidden. A tomato would basically taste like a tomato and not be hidden. The best tomato soup is fresh tomatoes, garlic, and then puree.” This shows the importance of using local growers, like Jeff Wilkinson in Lexington, because “the fresher the produce, the better the taste.” Joe also feels this is important for the meats used in the restaurant so he buys locally at Luke’s Country Meats.

Joe reports that it takes a lot of hard work to cook and manage a restaurant, but it can only be done with the help of a “good team”. He reports that he is thankful for that team including business partner, Kim Williams.

Joe is planning to make an apple cobbler, butternut squash soup, and ratatouille all using fresh, local produce with a simple preparation and an excellent fresh flavor.

Richland County Farm to Plate is a program that will occur as part of the Farmers’ Market in Shelby. A host of partners, supporters and volunteers have joined together to provide this exciting program to link the growers of our local foods with local chefs and with us, the consumer. Cooking demonstrations, featuring items that can be found at the Farmers’ Market or through local sources, will occur on six occasions this summer. Taste testing, recipes and starter kits will be available. There will be healthy activities for the kids too. Special thanks to the Richland Community Development Group Local foods/Ag sector, the Shelby Foundation and Our Ohio for funding this experience! This is a great opportunity to learn about and support our local food economy, and to be newly inspired to eat healthy and to eat fresh.

Stay tuned for farm and chef information on our Facebook page! or contact: Fred Cooke, Richland County Farm to Plate, (419) 295-6583



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