An award-winning chef and a keen proponent of hyper-local cooking and ingredients, Sam Cover offers a closer, professional insight into the concept.
A leading chef from the Pacific Northwest corner of the United States, Spokane Valley native Sam Cover is a keen advocate for both the existing farm-to-table movement and the newer and now-rapidly-growing trend specifically for hyper-local ingredients. A celebrated professional with more than 20 years of experience working in some of America’s best restaurants and hotels, Cover provides an expert insight into the burgeoning trend for hyper-local food and drink.
“As an already outspoken proponent of the farm-to-table movement, often I’m asked, ‘What’s the difference between farm-to-table, organic, local, and hyper-local?'” reveals Cover.
Surprisingly, ingredients labeled ‘local’ may come from as far as 400 miles away, according to the chef. Organic ingredients, meanwhile, he also reveals, may originate anywhere, but must adhere to a strict set of rules in order to achieve and maintain organic status. “These include, for example,” says Cover, “only utilizing agricultural practices which are free of chemical fertilizers and synthetic pesticides.”
It’s the farm-to-table ethos, though, and, in particular, a move toward sourcing chiefly hyper-local ingredients that interest the chef the most. “While farm-to-table simply promotes sourcing meat, vegetables, and other produce from as locally as possible, the hyper-local movement takes things one step further,” Cover explains.
The award-winning chef says that while farm-to-table ingredients may come from a farm in a neighboring town or even state, the hyper-local trend promotes sourcing items from as close to your home, restaurant, or grocery business, for example, as physically possible. This can include anything from herbs grown in a kitchen garden and eggs or poultry produced within the local community to beers created by neighborhood breweries, according to the expert. “Hyper-local is typically considered to be anything under three miles,” says Cover, “which, in our major towns and cities, is quite an achievement.”
In more rural areas, however, hyper-local often hinges on food grown or raised in the immediate vicinity, such as on or in a business or individual’s own plot or garden, or a neighboring property. “One major benefit of hyper-local is that ingredients can be enjoyed the very same day, sometimes within just minutes,” points out Spokane-based chef Sam Cover, “when they’re as fresh as absolutely possible.”
Hyper-local ingredients also have extremely low or zero food miles associated with their production and transportation, in stark contrast, he says, with even certified ‘local’ ingredients which can travel hundreds of miles before they’re consumed.
“Hyper-local food, therefore,” adds Cover, wrapping up, “is not only an excellent means of enjoying the very freshest ingredients on offer, but it’s also a fantastic way to reduce environmental impact and your own environmental footprint at the same time.”
Chef Sam Cover focuses on the Pacific Northwest as he takes a closer look at the latest gastronomic food trends wowing the nation.
Across America, as a nation of food lovers, 2019 has seen a rise in demand for luxury cuisine, fine dining, and previously unexplored gastronomic experiences. An established chef who’s made his name on the Pacific Northwest’s thriving and increasingly trendy food scene, Sam Cover delves into the latest dishes and new ideas making waves in the region’s restaurants and across much of the United States.
“From local catering companies to five-star restaurants in cities like Seattle, New York, and Los Angeles, adored by the rich and famous, 2019 has seen more of us than ever before embracing the growing trend toward luxury food and drink,” explains Cover.
Spokane Valley native and celebrated chef Sam Cover has worked across the U.S. and throughout Spokane County, managing restaurants and luxury catering operations from Airway Heights and Cheney to Millwood and Spangle. The fourth most populous county in the state of Washington, Spokane County is named after the Spokane tribe. The county’s largest city, Spokane, is the second-largest in the state following Seattle.
According to Cover, Spokane and Spokane County enjoy a wealth of delicious local cuisines, many of which have their roots firmly in the food and drink of the broader Northwest and Pacific Northwest corner of the United States.
“Further to embracing the recent and still-burgeoning farm-to-table movement in food and drink, Spokane County and the wider Pacific Northwest have also embraced many of the newest gastronomic, luxury, and gourmet food trends well-ahead of the rest of the nation,” suggests the expert.
Food and drink trends to emerge or gather pace this year across the board have included experiential dining, alternative proteins, new cuts of meat, marine vegetables, hyper-local ingredients, and artisan-produced spirits, among various others, according to Cover.
Portland, Oregon, and Seattle, Washington, in particular, Sam Cover believes, have been central to the Pacific Northwest’s growing love of both fine dining and responsibly and locally sourced ingredients. “The region is famed for its fresh fish and seafood,” explains the chef, “and, as with much of the Pacific Northwest, the growing farm-to-table movement continues to make waves, particularly in Spokane County.”
A huge emphasis, he says, is placed on fresh ingredients in the area. “Many of us in Spokane County, chefs especially, love to source everything as locally as we possibly can,” adds Cover. Putting an added, luxurious twist on local dishes, inspired by both traditional and more contemporary fine dining, has, he believes, given the region’s cuisine a further edge.
Accordingly, chef Cover goes on to touch briefly on what he likes to call ‘upscale comfort.’
While gourmet cuisine continues to make headlines both locally and across the country, the Pacific Northwest, and, in particular, Spokane, are, he says, a great place to enjoy the mix of indulgent but thoroughly local ingredients and beautiful, elegant plating which embody his ‘upscale comfort’ ethos. It’s an ethos which, according to Cover, couples local food and a level of luxury with a professionally executed taste of home, where each and every dish is cooked to perfection.
“It’s the perfect mix,” he adds, wrapping up, “of fine dining and the farm-to-table spirit which much of the Pacific Northwest has come to love.”