In the Green Room: Farm to table at The Hil
See farm to table dining in action at The Hil restaurant and hear from executive chef Hillary White at the Serenbe community in central Georgia. (Video by Hibbotte)
Hi, my name is Hillary White. I’m the Executive Chef/Owner of the Hill Restaurant in the wonderful community of Serenbe. Our restaurant opened on August 1st of 2007. It’s a venture, a joint venture, of my husband and myself, along with my mother. So it is a family-run organization. It’s a farm to table concept. Being farm to table that we’ve actually relocated in a rural community to be at the farm. We’ve looked beyond trend and understand that behind it is sustainability and there’s too many words used today that are probably, you know, have taken on a bit of trend. But I think that here at the Hill Restaurant, our family, our staff, our guests look at it as it’s a decision, it’s a choice and it’s something that really has to move forward in its movement.
We opened a restaurant in conjunction with a farm that was about two and half to three years old. And by utilizing the produce and applying good proper cooking techniques, we share it with people who understand that this is really a way that… a way of the future; a way that, you know, farming is going to happen. It really all starts on Monday and we continue through the week. They harvest on Tuesday and it’s delivered Wednesday morning. So essentially, what you're eating Wednesday night was either harvested Tuesday or Wednesday morning at the farm.
When I worked in the city, all these farms were bringing things to you – produce to you – but because of the disconnect from the farm, you really didn’t know what the timeframe was. Being so close to the farm, we know that it is certainly fresh. In the past, broccoli is a good example, I myself have never tasted broccoli, you know, fresh from the farm. I’m sure the broccoli I’ve always had has, you know, traveled 3,000 miles and is how old. But certainly, when you understand the chemical composition of most vegetables, you have a starch to sugar conversion that immediately happens once harvest takes place. So for us to be able to get broccoli on the table within 24 hours of the harvest time, that’s pretty amazing.
We take all of our vegetable trim here at the Hill Restaurant and we actually have compost containers. And we produce about three to four hundred pounds of compost a week that goes directly back out to the farm. The farm delivers the produce; they pick up the compost from the other day. So it’s a very hand in hand… that is sustainability at its finest. As far as I’m concerned, it’s the best gift we can give to the farm. It’s gold to the farm. When you get two people like that connected, you know, all of a sudden words like “sustainability” and “compost,” they’re not trendy, you know, it’s real life. It’s what we do. And it’s what we’re here to do.