Brian Doyle, a well-known personal chef and Cleveland caterer, has always been ahead of the curve. He was the driving force behind the Gypsy Gourmet dinners, one-night only dining experiences, in 2007, preceding the current local craze for pop-ups by a few years. Now he’s got another innovative project going, expanding on the idea of a CSA- essentially an agricultural buying club- to include meals prepared from the harvest.
The operation, in its second year, is called Sōwfood, and Doyle is equal parts farmer and cook. He raises vegetables on an urban plot at W. 47th and Lorain, adds local sustainable meats and cheeses, plus seasonal produce from other area growers, and turns it all into restaurant style heat and eat dishes. It’s the perfect solution for those who want creative, healthy, high quality food but don’t have the timeto spend in the kitchen, the skill or the motivation to make it.
This works much like a traditional CSA model. Participants purchase shares that entitle them to three main courses with sides for two adults every week, plus surprise “extras” like a desert, homemade bread, an appetizer or salad. The season is 16 weeks, from the beginning of June to the end of September. Menus are created weekly and it’s a one size fits all package. Anyone with special dietary requests or a desire for 100 percent vegetarian or vegan fare has to pay extra for the personalized service.
Some examples from last year's entrée menus:
-Eggplant Parmesan, pasta with chunky style sauce and a side of Roman green beans
-Lime and garlic marinated grilled chicken with fresh corn, carrot and pepper succotash
-Bison Meat loaf, mashed potatoes, Brussels sprouts
-Duck confit, Sweet potato hash, collard greens
Roast Pork loin, whipped rutabaga-sweet potatoes and broiled radicchio with blue cheese and balsamic
- Ramp chimichurri marinated grilled grass fed steaks, potato-collard stew
-Roast Chicken, mac and cheese, bacon-greens and beets and pumpkin puree
-Veggie Stir fry, eggplant, broccoli, carrots, red cabbage, onion and peppers with a side of rice
Pricing beats dinning out. The total may seem high at first glance- $1520. But if you the pay upfront for the full season it breaks down to a mere $15.84 per meal. Paying month to month is slightly more- $16.67 per meal. There is the option to try out the service for a month and the cost for that would be $17.50 per meal. Those who sign up as full subscription members by Earthday, April 22, will get a fourth meal each week at no extra charge, an incredible perk.
If you already belong to a CSA, Doyle will use the ingredients from it and reduce your meal charge accordingly.
Right now, pick-ups will be on Tuesdays 4 pm to 6 pm at the farm. He’ll consider a second eastside location if there’s sufficient subscriber demand. You can get more details on how the whole thing works on the Sōwfood website. Sign-up (and ask questions) via email at email@example.com with Interested in CSA in the subject line. The acronym usually stands for Community Supported Agriculture, but Doyle's reinvented the concept as Chef Supported Agriculture. I think it's a really cool idea that can benefit many in this community.