Chef Ian Knauer shares Thanksgiving recipes and why you should buy local this holiday season

Thanksgiving is a day away and I wanted to share a few recipes with you before the big day.  Yesterday, I had the pleasure of speaking with Chef Ian Knauer and had to share his thoughts about using local ingredients in your recipes this year.  I believe the more we know about our food the more we can make better choices for our bodies.

Chef Knauer, author of cookbook The Farm: Rustic Recipes for a Year of Incredible Food (not to mention contributor to Men's HealthThe Wall Street Journal & Bon Appetit to name a few), joined TakePart in their journey around the country to find the best shops that are local, sustainable, organic, unprocessed and humane.  The journey became Tastemakers, a 10 city guide featuring the 10 best places to shop that value the quality standards mentioned.  You better believe Chicago made the list, and it's definitely worth checking out.  (Side note: After five years of living in the city, I'm still amazed by all of the places I haven't been or never knew about.  This list was fantastic and I can't wait to go check some of them out).  Chef Knauer graciously explained to me the benefits of using local artisan food producers.


The first thing Chef said was that the food tastes better.  He brought up the fact that when food has to travel half way across the country stored in boxes it probably isn't going to have it's optimum flavor.  Therefore, buying locally can allow you to really flavor food the way it was intended.  Secondly, Chef mentioned that when you buy local you're helping put money back into your own community.  Buy helping those in your community you're allowing those to serve your community.  Thereby benefitting everyone.  Last, by choosing local you'll be helping save natural resources such as gas used to transport ingredients/food across the country.  You may possibly be saving money if your local producer is closer than the large supermarket.  These points Chef Knauer made really had me thinking about the positive changes that could be made by shopping at our local shops.

A topic that I always hear is that people believe buying healthier food or organic food costs more than buying the "non" versions.  I asked Chef Knauer his thoughts and he felt that you would most likely be saving money buying direct from a farmer, for example, because you're cutting out the middleman.  He highly recommended getting to know your local farmers.

With Thanksgiving being tomorrow I had to ask Chef Knauer what his favorite Thanksgiving dish was.  He said it would have to be stuffing.  I have to say stuffing is pretty amazing.  A tradition in Chef's family was that his mother would put sausage in the stuffing (my mother does this as well and it's amazing).  While in L.A. chef took the time to visit a local butcher and bakery to get fresh sausage and bread respectively.  Tastemakers features videos demonstrating how you can take traditional holiday recipes, such as stuffing, and use local shops to help enhance the flavor of your dish.  I have a few recipes from Chef Knauer below you may want to try.

I was thrilled to have such a great interview with Chef Ian Knauer.  It didn't matter that I had never met him in person because I could sense his energy and passion for his craft over the phone.  It made me excited to share this information with you.  The interview also reminded of how grateful I am to be working at something that I love.  If you want to learn more about Chef Ian Knauer he has a new show coming out in the Spring of 2013.  The show is called The Farm and will take you back to the basics of teaching you how to cook.  The show will feature how specific ingredients are made or where they come from and will then teach you how to use those ingredients in your cooking.


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