Where does the food in your favorite restaurant come from? Farmer D talks to chef Matthew Roher about his restaurant, Cha Bella, where everyone on staff works on a local farm to bring the freshest ingredients from the farm to table. (Nick Scott, MNN)


Farmer D:  I’m Farmer D.  I’m here at Cha Bella Restaurant in Savannah, Georgia hanging out with my boy Matthew Roher, chef of great esteem in this area and soon to be nationally.  Matthew, I wanted to get a first-hand perspective on why you're doing all these amazing things to make your restaurant so sustainable and organic and –

Matthew:  Sure.

Farmer D:  What’s driving that for you?

Matthew:  Well, I mean, for me, you know, I mean, there’s a little bit of a selfish nature to it, just because of the quality of the food, being able to pick fresh and serve to the customers is always key.  And it makes me look a heck of a lot better as a chef to be able to pick and have that out there, and just the flavor profile is just through the roof.  For us, I mean, we took a big significant part of our patio here at the restaurant, ripped it out, and used your biodynamic blend of compost in here and, you know, we pick all of our herbs and, you know, right straight from here right onto the table.  It’s just absolutely incredible.  We also have, you know, just, just recently had an incredible relationship, an exclusive relationship with a farm.  I mean, we’re downtown Savannah.  Our farm is about two,three minutes from here, literally, and we’re growing and all of our staff here at the restaurant – it doesn’t matter who you are or, you know, what you do, if you're a dishwasher or executive chef or front of the house – you're gonna work on that farm when you get hired here.  That’s part of the deal.  You know, we have a farm rate.  You know, it’s – you get out there and get dirty right off the bat.  And you get to learn, you know, who we are as a company and what our philosophy is.  And that whole “earth to table” philosophy for us is very important.

Farmer D:   Man, that’s great.  I applaud you for doing that.  I think it’s a real – you’re setting the bar, you know, for restaurateurs to look at taking ownership of their food –

Matthew:  That’s right.

Farmer D:   - from the seed to the plate.

Matthew:  You have to know where it comes from.

Farmer D:   That’s amazing.

Matthew:  That’s it, yeah.  Well, we’ve already had experiences, you know, where you have a server who is explaining the salad and the salad comes and hits the table and they’re absolutely loving it, and you see that little twinkle in their eye when they say, “Well, you know, I helped pick that arugula out at the farm.”  And the –

Farmer D:   That is so cool.

Matthew: - customer just looks up and says, “You did what?”  You know, and it’s just that, it’s that connection and that knowledge.


In the Field: Farm to table at Cha Bella
Video: Visit a restaurant where every staffer spends time on the restaurant farm.