Napa Valley Grille's Got Farm Fresh Groceries, Whole Foods Beware

By
NVG's Winter Basket

Napa Valley Grille exec chef Joseph Gillard, a former country boy raised on a Michigan homestead with goats, cows, pigs, and a large vegetable garden, is bringing local farms to home tables with a new non-profit CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program at the Westwood restaurant. If the chef's plan for affordable, organic-heavy groceries spreads to other city chefs, Whole Foods everywhere can start trembling in their fur-lined boots.

Considering the climbing costs of chemically treated food, not only at toney Gelson's, but Ralph's, Von's, and their ilk, this offer is a steal. Packages are available by 13-week season from $455-520 or year for $1900 (depending on how many people sign up). Basically $36-40 a week. Subscribers to what Gillard's calling a co-op will get a weekly box of fresh vegetables, fruit, and occasional other products from local family growers like Kathy and Michael Feig at Country Fresh Herbs, in addition to vendors from Santa Monica and Studio City farmer's markets. Gillard is topping it off with weekly recipes and tips, plus an annual dinner for members, and is giving all profits back the farmers.

If you wonder why Gillard is being such a benevolent leader of our local food revolution, the restaurant explains that his own family made money from selling their harvests at a market stand in Fremont, MI when he was growing up. Respect for the people behind the food aside, Gillard says getting products from the source is about honoring them, and preparing them in a simple, honest fashion.

The weekly packages depend on what's busting out of the ground of course, but a current sample winter basket might include butter lettuce, acorn Squash, organic Baby Greens, pomegranate, watermelon radish, purple carrots, blood oranges, Meyer lemons, apple pears, sour oranges, baby zucchini, and baby lettuce heads. To join, call the restaurant at 310-824-3322. 1100 Glendon Ave.