What Comes After the Farm-to-Table Movement?
Farmer and Chef Team Up
Story by Brian P.J. Cronin
Photo: Courtesy of Aaron Lacan
When John Lekic was growing up in Montenegro, his father used to drive three hours to the top of a mountain to buy a particular cheese that was made there. “He did that because the cheese was special for him,” he said. “That’s the kind of pride in ingredients that I want to focus on.”
Lekic has turned that focus into a career as a chef, and it has taken him all over the world. He currently runs Le’ Express Bistro in Poughkeepsie as well as the Farmers & Chefs Hudson Valley Food Trucks. With both his restaurant and his food trucks, Lekic is one of the many Hudson Valley chefs helping to define what comes after the farm-to-table movement. He calls it “farmer-to-chef,” with the emphasis on a true collaboration between the person who grows the food and the person who cooks it.
One of the many farmers Lekic works with is Fishkill Farms’s Josh Morgenthau, who in 2007 began turning his family’s 100-year-old apple orchard into a sustainable, diversified farm complete with chickens, a CSA and extensive U-pick options for anyone who wants to make an idyllic day out of picking their own fruit.
We spoke with John and Josh about what happens when farmers and chefs work together, instead of simply doing business with each other.