As interest in local sourcing accelerates, chefs augment time-consuming trips to the farmers market with online platforms that provide greater visibility to local vendors and consolidate orders.
When executive chef David Baeli wanted to purchase meat, dairy, and produce from local farmers for his San Francisco–based eatery Hops & Hominy, he had to call multiple vendors to inquire about stock, availability, and prices, or trek to the local farmers market to search for goods.
In early 2013, Baeli was thrilled to learn about Sourcery—a San Francisco-based startup that provides access to local products from multiple farms, ranchers, and vendors on a single platform.
“In San Francisco, there are hundreds—if not thousands—of vendors for different products and, as a chef, I don’t have time to investigate all of them,” Baeli says. Using Sourcery, Baeli easily acquires high-quality local goods.
“Now I have a deep list of local products in one place, in an organized way,” Baeli says.
For many restaurants, the process of securing local products is just too complicated and cumbersome—filled with paper catalogues, kitchen clipboards, and relationships with numerous vendors, each maintaining its own ordering, documentation, and delivery system.
But as the farm-to-table movement accelerates, innovative companies—such as Sourcery in California or Source Local Foods in Colorado—have emerged to provide chefs a more direct, simplified path to local goods.
Sourcery CEO and co-founder Na’ama Moran says the company, which works with customers in California’s Bay Area as well as with customers in New York City, allows chefs to order local products in a “frictionless way.” Sourcery publishes products available from local farms, and the restaurants simply search for products, compare offerings, and place orders.
In Colorado, Source Local Foods similarly posts hundreds of products from local farmers and ranchers, but adds delivery service to its business model. The two-year-old company has more than 200 Colorado-based customers, who place orders via email, phone, or text, and enjoy consolidated delivery.
“This saves restaurants time and hassle,” Source Local Foods CEO Aaron Perry says. It’s particularly valuable to new restaurant operations, because “now, a new restaurant doesn’t have to build relationships with a dozen farmers; we’ve done that work for them.”
Chef Baeli agrees: “If you can take out some of the administrative hassle and legwork, and allow farmers to be farmers and chefs to be chefs, we’re going to see better food all over the place.”